Monday, June 3, 2013

Hard Work

The day I married P, I had one gray hair.  It was a strange hair, it never grew longer than an inch.  But it was stark white.  As crazy as he has driven me (ha ha), and as hard as E's adoption was, I never got another one for over 10 years.  Two weeks home with R, and I have 4.  Coincidence?  I think not.

OK, the fun's good!  It really is.  There are lots of fun times, and seeing my adorable daughters laughing together makes me so I happy I feel like I could explode.  Or die.  Or cry.  Either way, it's amazing.

But, this is tough.  Different tough than with E.  E had a horrible time in China.  Everyone and their uncle knows that by now.  But when we got home, things changed.  E cheered up, and we started to act like a typical family pretty quickly.  Her only real struggle was confined to bedtime.  But even then, when she was afraid and upset and grieving, she wanted me near her to help her through it.  E needed me, wanted to be comforted by me, wanted me near.  I could tell that E had a foster mama who loved her very much and took wonderful care of her.   I know E loved her back.  I read so much before adopting E that didn't quite apply. The lack of eye contact, the self-soothing, the disinterest in parents.  That just wasn't E.

R is different.  As we expected, she exhibits many more "orphanage behaviors."  She refuses to look me in the eye.  She doesn't look to us or for us nearly as much as E did.  When she's sad at bedtime or falls and hurts herself, she shoos us away and prefers to suffer alone, or soothe her own boo boo.  She's happy entertaining herself.  She eats and eats and eats and eats long after she must be stuffed.

Don't get me wrong...she's plenty happy and full of laughter a lot of the time, but she's put up a bit of a wall that makes it hard to show her how much we love her and care for her.  Right now, it's mostly just meeting her basic needs.  With E, I felt like I was her mother right away.  Or, more accurately, I could mother her right away.  With R, I feel like I am her mother in that I love her with all of my heart and I'd do anything for her, but I can't mother her.  She won't let me act like her mother yet.  And, I know it's still so soon, but compared to our experience with E, it's just hard.  I don't want to be pushed away when I try to hug her.  I don't want her to wriggle her tiny hand from mine when I try to hold it.  I want her to care that I'm trying to soothe her when she gets her transfusion.  It's OK...that's all what I want and not what she wants right now, and it's all about her.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't feel crummy.

So now, we are working to get R to understand what a family is, what a mother is, what a father is, and what a sister is.  We are showing her that it's nice to be hugged when you fall, coddled when you feel sick, kissed when you go to sleep at night.  These are things that E came to us already knowing.  R is starting from a different place--perhaps a more difficult place--and we will work as hard as we can to show her how wonderful a family's love can be.

Last weekend 5/26 (when it was so cold out).
R's first trip to the North End...she LOVED her hot cocoa at Caffe Vittoria!


Christine said...

Interesting contrast between the 2 of your girls. Hopefully, over time, your little one will see how much the older one relies on you and will follow suit. Loved your article in Adoptive Families, by the way!

AnnaJ said...

Hard when you are full of love and excitement and have so much to give to have your giving tempered by a tiny person for whom it is too much too soon.
Nothing that I can say will comfort you, but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this new and scary and magical and difficult time.

Paige said...

I promise it will get better. Just keep on doing what you are doing, you will see baby steps, a few back and then more forward. Madeline is 6 now and I my heart still stops when she holds my eyes and tells me she loves me, I will always appreciate how far she has come!!!!

likeschocolate said...

Hang in there! It will get better and just so you know even bio children different levels of need. I have one child who is supper cuddly and my 4th who hates to be held. She even prefers other people to me! I try not to take it too personally.

Pattie and Joe said...

T, P, and E - If there ever was a family that can reach R with love and patience, it is you! R may always have an independent streak, which in life will be valuable, but we are certain that she WILL open up like her name - a rose - when time and loving conditions help her blossom. Love You All.

Troy and Diane Sturgeon said...

Interestingly, our little guy adopted from an orphanage came to us craving affection and undivided attention (while also displaying some very definite orphanage behavior). Our son, adopted in August last year, was from a foster care situation, and he displayed the self-soothing, disinterested, detached behavior (but we feel he was not in a good foster situation). You're right. It is SO hard. It's disheartening. On the bright side -- I think, he is kinda clingy! -- DS#2 is now VERY much attached, looks to Mom and Dad for love and comfort, and no longer "parent shops." This too shall pass, but wow, is it hard in the interim. Best wishes!!