Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A picture is just...a picture

P and I are at the point during our trip where we are wearing out.  China is not a vacation, and it's even less so with a child who is profoundly sad.  Other families start turning some imaginary corner, and we sit here and wait for our turn.  We skip meals, cancel outings with our guide, walk for 8 hours at a time, do anything for our sweet, sweet daughter.  We are at the point where we look at each other and say:  "She can't stand us." 

We went into adoption knowing all of this.  We did not expect unicorns and rainbows, in fact I am a pessimist by nature, and always expect the worst.  Still, it is so very different--so very painful--to live the worst.  We love little E so much, and we just want to soothe her, to make her pain go away.  But it is hard--no, impossible--to do so when she really wants nothing to do with us.  Especially P.  She has completely shut him out, cowering away when he comes near her.  No soothing voice, no gentle touch, nothing will comfort her.  Even attempts at playful times are met with complete disinterest.  Singing, dancing, bouncing a ball, putting on a Chinese children's video, acting silly, going to a park...none of it works.  At a park surrounding by children laughing and playing, E slid down the slide a couple of times and wanted to leave.

This is adoption.  This is real.  This is not the storybook version, and this is what we were ready for.  But, can you ever really be ready for this?  I think not.  Reading it and trying to prepare yourself is very different than the real thing. 

What hurts the most is that we have SO MUCH LOVE in our hearts for E.  We look at her and melt.  We just want to erase her pain, and bring her closer to us.  Small moments where we catch a smile over some noodles are what is powering us through the final leg of our trip.

So, here are the pictures.  But, remember, they do not tell the entire story.

Our love to everyone back home.  We miss you terribly.  T + P + E


Kate said...


I have been following your blog your entire trip. I found you on RQ. I recently traveled (with my husband and daughter) to adopt our second daughter, age 3. We came home on Thanksgiving. I have not posted before...but wanted to give you a little shout out. You ARE doing it. You WILL get through this and things will turn around rapidly once you get home, get some rest and some help. I was VERY determined to do it all myself when we got home with our first daughter (14 months old at the time). I was exhausted and not my best looking back. I was overwhelmed with new motherhood...despite how I had studied and tried to prepare myself (and I have a degree in ECE...had spent years happily caring for children!). This time, our IA doctor just bluntly said to get all the help we could in the early days...plenty of days to bond once you get back on your feet. It was the best piece of advice I got. It took a good two weeks to fully get over the jetlag and sheer exhaustion of the trip...but after that...we all started to settle in and grow into our new normal. It IS going to be okay. Just hang in there and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know your pictures don't tell the whole tale...but the fact that she IS smiling some if a great step with all the adjustments she has undegone. Have some grace with yourselves and know you are being great parents. Continue to stand by your daughter and you will all come out stronger in the end. It is not a pleasure cruise for sure...but I can tell you...well worth it in the end. These are some the hardest days you will ever have...and you are doing it! You CAN do it.

Best wishes,

Kate (www.andsowewait.blogspot.com)

April Z said...

I'm another adoptive mom who found your blog through Rumor Queen. I've loved following your journey and also wanted to leave a note of encouragement. When we adopted our daughter last year (19 mo. at the time) she was also very sad. Probably not as sad as your sweetie, but still not happy and very withdrawn and quiet. She really didn't want any affection from us. It was especially hard on me because I was so ready to just pick her up and hug and kiss her all day long. It definitely took awhile for her to realize we were her "mommy" and "daddy" and not just another set of caregivers, but I'm so happy to say that a little over a year later she is a completely different child. It wasn't always easy, but it's been wonderful! It's clear that you love E so much and you are doing a wonderful job with her. Things will get better after you get home and get into a normal routine. It will take time, but she will bond with you and one day you'll look back and be amazed at how much the situation has changed. I hope the rest of your trip goes well and that E feels better and better each day. She is beautiful, by the way!!!

Karen said...


I just wanted to let you know that things WILL get better. I'm speaking from a BTDT experience! Like Kate said, make sure you take care of yourselves and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. E has an amazing smile and I bet you will start seeing more and more of it once you get home.

Anonymous said...

I also have been following your blog through RQ and don't know you personally, but your words tell me that you are a very strong and loving couple. I echo everything Kate says above. You are doing wonderfully with your daughter. Take some time, even now in China, to relieve each other. One day at a time--you will make it through.

We are sending thoughts and prayers your way.
traveled to Guangxi in 2008 to meet our daughter

Pattie And Joe said...

Tracey & Patrick - We cannot begin to give you the hope that these wonderful bloggers have given from experience. All we know is that a loving, caring, and ready to do anything for you and E family is waiting for you here at home. Hold on - it's just another couple of days. It is sometimes hard to see the light when you are exhausted, hungry, and away from home. Take comfort in what the others are saying. Love You all, Pattie and Joe

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the photos of your beautiful daughter and for being so honest. Sorry to hear that things are so tough - praying for your family - looking forward to when things do start to turn around!

Suzanne said...

I think that the fact she is grieving so hard is a good sign. She obviously had a close bond with her foster mother and she is grieving for her. But that means she can and will form a healthy attachment to you in her own time. It will happen. Do not lose faith in the process. Yes it is tough, but so worth it in the end. Take care of each other and make sure that you give yourself whatever you need (I hear m&ms are medicinal) to get through this.

Christy said...

You are doing exactly what you should and I know it hurts like crazy when you expereince rejection from somone you love so dearly but this is normal. Its actually good-- it means she was profoundly attached and she WILL attach to you-- I promise-- she will. Im not sure if you remember my comment before you got E-- a warning about being rejected. I was horribly rejected from our Finley exactly 1 year ago this week. She was just barly 3 at the time and it was shattering. I kept telling myself that this was normal but it did not make it easier. The whole China trip she rejected me. I was not even high enough in her mind to wipe her bum. It was heartbreaking. I actually started resenting her and once home-- around my kids who did like me-- I found myself ignoring her becuase I was so hurt. Eventually, probably a few weeks after being home, she opened up to me and I was not that bad and now, a year home, Im momma and there is no two ways about it. E will open up. I have seen this over and over. The hard part for you guys is that she has not really attached to either of you yet. Our Finley did attach to my hubby so at least she did not have the same sadness E seems to have but I have seen so many families who have expereinced the exact same situation you are going through now and once home, things start changing. Just remember how rocked her world has been and your first defence mechanism is to close down and that is where she is. She is closed to everyone and will not let anyone in right now beucase this is her ONLY way to cope with what she has gone though over the last week plus. This defence mechanism will go away once she feels safe. Once she is in her own bed at her own house with her own toys and things start to normalize, the sense of safty will sink in and she will open up.

STay strong and if you are starting to get resentful or flat out not like her much (as hard as it is to type that-- that is how I felt with Finley-- I did not like her)just remember this is normal and change will come. Ride out the hard time and stay strong and lean on eachother for support. Lots of prayers being sent your way!!

Christy :)

Bonnie, Jim and Ainsley said...

Hang in there. Thank you for your honesty in telling your story. It is important to hear for those of us who have yet to travel. Glad that you reached out to everyone and just know that we are all thinking of you and it will get better. Sending lots of hugs and encouragement your way. Soon you will be home :) Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

Another RQ member here (and 3 x adopter). I have been following your blog while you have been in China and really feel for the tough time you are all having. You seem to have such a great understanding of where your little one is coming from, amazing patience and to be doing all you possibly can to help her. I hope things get easier soon. Sorry, no practical advice but just wanted you to feel supported.


The Payne Family Blog said...

My heart is breaking for you. I KNOW how terribly hard it is. There were (and still are) times I feel like a by stander in my daughter's grieving. Know that you are doing it right. You are there. You are loving her. You are comforting her. She WILL come around. It takes time and lots of love and prayer. One thing we found very helpful was carrying Kate in the Ergo carrier. There is something about the closeness of it. I still use it often.

My other thought was how is she feeling physically? Kate was just plain worn out with her Thalassemia. She would not walk for long distances etc. If she is not feeling 100% that could be adding to the whole experience. There is not much you can do about it right now, but it might be something to keep in the back of your mind.

My heart aches for E as she grieves and you and Pat as you bear witness to such raw emotion. Hang in there. The bonding WILL come. The fact she was so attached to her caregivers is truly a blessing that will pay dividends with you when she is ready. Continuing to lift you up. Hang on... you are almost HOME!!!!


Anonymous said...

love what Suzanne said--its a good sign little E deeply loves her foster mother---she is able to love. Someday she will love you back as much as you love her. it may take some time it may come before you know it... take care of yourself, her beaming smiles shoule give you plenty of hope!

Deb said...

T- thank you for being open and sharing what is going on. It helps us wait with a clear focus on what is ahead. The pictures show a little progress. I hope you turn the corner soon!

BlessedMom said...

Tracy~My heart is aching for you, your husband and your Little E. I can't say that I know what you are feeling or have experienced this. Madison attached so quickly. It frightened me that she didn't know how to attach. So far, so good with Madison. I can only pray for the best when we travel to China to meet our MaeLeigh (my 2nd thal girl).
Please know that you are in my prayers. I have no doubt that the day will come when Little E won't let go of her Mama. I pray that is soon.

Ladyblog said...

Hang in there! It truly takes 6 months - a year to see the true child emerge....
You two are doing a fabulous job letting your daughter bond in her own time. She was
obviously very bonded to her foster family, so as you know that is great, but difficult @ the same time!
Take care,

Emmie's Favorite Auntie said...

What’s up blog world? I’m Tracy’s little sister, Sue. I’m Patrick’s sister-in-law and would be the President of his fan club if he had one. I’m Emmilene’s aunt who is counting the moments until I meet her.

I get why people blog; you feel part of a larger community and can hear about the experiences of others who have traveled a similar road before. It’s comforting, soothing and even helpful. I’m not a blogger. My life isn’t one that would play out well on a blog; no one cares that I eat a lot of cheese or that I am obsessed with lipstick. My comments on here are limited. I choose to mostly communicate privately with my dear sister—that way I don’t have to censor my musings and can use whatever foul language I want.

I work in a field where literally hundreds of people come in and out of my life every year. It’s made me a tough judge of character and a harsh critic. It means I know a lot about people; I know what people are made of. And I know, I KNOW, that Tracy and Patrick are made of the stuff that it will take to get Emmie through her transition. It’s going to be tough, but no one is tougher. I’ve watched my sister as she walks her daughter through the streets of China day after day for hours without once saying, “Ah hello? I have thal too, you know. I’m freaking exhausted.” I watched her on Skype as little Em, bless her heart, wiggled around as Tracy showered her with kisses. And Tracy will keep doing it, because no one is more fiercely loyal. Emmie will be brave, because no one knows how to stare down adversity (with perfectly lined and smoky-shadowed eyes) like my sister and she will show her daughter how to do so. And Emmie’s beautiful smile that lights up her eyes will become more and more frequent because Tracy will create a home full of love and laughter because her family is her world.

Emmie will learn to adore her Daddy. How can you not adore Patrick? He’s funny and wacky and has made tea come out of my nose more than once because he’s sent me into gales of laughter. He worships my sister and she is the center of his universe. And now Emmie will join those ranks. Patrick is, simply, the best of men. And this is coming from a woman who thinks after her Daddy, Grampys and other men related by blood, men are mostly idiots (oh look, I can censor myself!).

My dear sister, there is no one better in the world to take care of this child. From our parents you know the meaning of love, the importance of family and the value of a warm home. Emmie will know immense joy and love. She is now, and always will be, a very lucky girl to have you and Patrick as parents.

Hurry home.

Anonymous said...

Keeping you 3 in prayer!! It WILL HAPPEN--our daughter ,14 years ago, adopted from China ,grieved terribly-- it hurt me so ,but she broke slowly out of her shell and the world got so much better--she is the love of our lives,IT WILL BE WORTH IT take care of one another!! Cathy in Illinois

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog since you announced your referral. You are all in my thoughts and prayers! Our son was two when we adopted him , and he bonded well with my husband, but wanted nothing to do with me. Even though, you try to prepare your heart for your experience-I don't think it is possible. I don't know how I would have survived the experience if our daughter had not traveled with us. My heart goes out to you! It sounds like you are awesome, incredibly wonderful parents! Persevere-my son decided I was pretty cool once we returned from China, and he has at times even been a mommy's boy!
Audrey in Florida

Cindy said...

Oh Tracy, I know first hand how *hard* it is to watch your child grieve. After adopting three times, I have learned that this process is unique for each child and despite all of the best preparation, there is nothing like living it. My oldest who is now 10 and one of the most amazing girls I know, was a lot like E when we were in China. It took time before she really trusted that I was in it for good. I can look back on those photos of her 9 years ago and SEE the anguish in her eyes. But slowly and surely her security came with exactly the type of love and hard work you are giving E. You are doing it! You are giving her what she needs. And her sweet self will start to blossom!!
I agree with Kelly about the Ergo. I bought a sling in China for my girls, and they all loved it, especially my least secure kiddo.
Adoption trips are labor. Not only labor for the parents, but labor for our sweet children. And just like at birth, the hard work will be so worth it!
Praying for you!
Lucky mama to 3 Guangxi girls

Our Journey to Jace said...

Fellow RQ member too! We just got home last weekend and although our son didnt experience all the emotions your daughter is I can tell you 100% it is so much easier when you get home! I didn't even realize until we were home with family how much I needed them for support. You will get rested and will be able to feel yourself again. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Our eldest was 20 months at adoption and extremely traumatized and sad. Also
Wanted nothing todo with DH in China and for a very long time. You will get through this and time, love and security will have its results. Our eldest is now nine and very happy, confident and secure. It took a long time but it happened. It is so hard to watch the sadness and grief but it is better that she is experiencing this. I would be extremely worried if she showed no reaction to the momentous change in her life. We also have a two year old adopted at six months with her own unique issues. Your daughter is beautiful
Just wait until you see the light of happiness and pure joy shining in her eyes:-)

Anonymous said...

PS I used a carrier for a long time with both our children our eldest remembers that especially in China and tells me that iit made her feel safe - No one could take me, we're her word when we talked about it when she was older.

Amiee said...

First of all thank you so much for your honesty in your writing. As we progress along our adoption journey to our little Ellie, your blogs have given me a REAL insight! As I have been following your blog, I have been lifting the three of you in prayer. You are wonderful parents and E will know it soon. One of our favorite passages in the Bible comes from 1 Corinthians 13:8 "...Love endures all things". Your love WILL endure this!

Erin said...

I found your blog through RQ. I wanted to tell you how much I completely understand what you are going through. We adopted our daughter last year from Korea and she was 14 mths at Gotcha. She had been with a foster family since she was 2 mths old and taking her away from them was the hardest, most heart-breaking thing that I have ever been through. It was like we basically kidnapped a child from her parents. Our girl had an extremely hard transition and to say that our attachment was difficult is putting it lightly. She was SO sad and untrusting of us. And you are right, you read and prepare yourself for how hard it's going to be but NOTHING can truly prepare you for a child's grief. Those first few months were not the blissful, happy times that I envisioned. And she would not let DH even look at her for the first 4 mths. I was beaten-down, sleep-deprived and sad. It was just SO hard. I even had thoughts of, did we do the right thing?? I have actually blocked a lot of that time out. But. BUT! She will be home a year tomorrow (!!!) and though we are not completely there yet in terms of some of her anxious attachment issues, we are in a place that I NEVER thought we would get. She completely knows that we are mommy and daddy (although she still has a fierce preference for me) and is the happiest when it is just the three of us, playing at home. She is now telling us that she loves us without prompting and will hug and kiss us freely. You WILL get through this. It will be SO hard and it might get even harder once you are home, but please know that the only thing that can truly heal her heart is your unforgiving love, flexibility and time. Lots and lots of time. ONe thing I didnt' have that I wished I did was someone to talk to that had been through the same thing. If you EVER want to talk, please do. Also, here is my blog; I haven't updated in a long time ( a little busy, you know!) but you can read about our journey and read how hard it was for all three of us. I also want to say that your daughter is just gorgeous and you and your husband and doing everything right. You WILL come out on the other side. Just take one day, one moment, at a time.

Joy said...

Hugs from Florida! Tracy, I know this is so so very hard. We've walked this road, and know it is heartbreaking, hurtful, exhausting. It WILL get better, just as we are all different, these children all have different timelines for healing. But keep loving her, be gentle with yourself too, and it will come. Vivian rejected my husband for a full month and then, we pushed the issue. It has slowly grown, and finally nine months later is good, really good. It was so hard for him though. He felt rejected over and over. Now she is a happy loving little girl. Praying for you all.