We have built our family through adoption. It’s definitely been an interesting process… We went from zero to three children in just under a year.
The feisty, funny, dramatic, little social butterfly we are so lucky to call our youngest daughter.
Our youngest daughter joined our family officially, just ten months after her brother. Biologically, they are half siblings. In our family however, they are simply brother and sister.
Our first meeting with our daughter was filled with anxiety. We had known about her since our first meeting regarding her brother, but there were a number of challenges in actually moving forward with the adoption. We met her when she was two-and-a-half. She was full of “piss and vinegar” (I hope it’s okay I say that here!) even then. She was also meeting her brother again after having been separated for 11 months. At this time, we were simply facilitating the relationship between siblings. There were still many battles to come regarding adoption, though that was always the long-term plan.
My first memory of meeting our littlest girl was watching her walk into the coffee shop, stop, check everyone and everything out around her and then the biggest smile came over her face…she had found the cookies! She was a little girl that knew exactly what she wanted and proceeded to charm and visit with everyone in her path to the cookies. She then moved on to creating a clear, itemized list of all that she would like to have purchased for her, flying through the shop on her tiny little legs. It was quite the visit…and it was the first of many, though I did learn quickly to avoid shops and stores for a while.
We visited with this little social butterfly regularly for the next 7-8 months, but I clearly remember driving to pick her up from her foster home for the last time. We filled the van with her many clothes and toys and then finally it was just the two of us in the van for the trip to the house that would be OUR home. She was buckled in her car seat and I turned to look at her before I pulled out of the foster home’s driveway. She looked up and made this determined little face and said “I will call you Mommy.” She took a deep breath, and asked “Did you bring my coat? Did you bring my blanket? Did you bring a snack? Did you bring my toy? When I get home I will play with my stroller. I will play with my doll. I will go to the bathroom. Then we will go to the zoo. Did you bring my stuffie? Did you bring my pink shirt?” and it went on and on for the 45 minute drive home.
Our sweet, funny little girl loves life. She is full of enthusiasm and looks forward to every new adventure. She will spend hours hunting for ladybugs or just cuddled up on top of me. She will lean down and talk to her younger 3 year old cousin and try to carry him around even though he towers over her, being twice her size. She is basically talking to his hip, but she doesn’t notice as she’s so busy “taking care of him”. Even though she is five years old now, when she’s sick, tired or scared she will come running and will leap onto me and wrap her little arms around me as tightly as she can. It is one of my favorite things about her. It’s one of the ways that I can see that she needs me. She can be so fiercely independent sometimes, proving to the world that she is her own person and doesn’t need anyone. It’s nice to know that she lets down her guard enough to need me sometimes. We love her so much and are so proud of her. She makes us laugh every day, and we are lucky to be sharing each day with her as she’s figuring out this world around her. It’s such a gift to look at things through her eyes and it makes me smile. We argue about whether the ramp turning off the road is called a “turnip” or a “turnoff”, and the genuine moments that we get to share with her are ones that we will treasure forever. She’s an amazing, bright little girl who grows so much every day, it makes it easier that she credits her aunt with teaching her letters (because they talked about them once) or my uncle with teaching her how to build a puzzle (because they built a puzzle together once). She has told me that she will still let me play with letters, numbers and puzzles with her, even though I didn’t teach her about them…(for those of you that don’t know us, these are activities that we do together every day!) Our little girl. All of that feisty attitude wrapped up into this tiny little package. I’m excited to see the young lady that she’s going to become!
We are still working on attachment, everyday. Our little girl is one of the most stubborn individuals that I have ever met (and I am frustratingly stubborn myself!). We have days that she will refuse to do a “time – in” and the screaming will go on for twelve hours, just to resume again the next day. These days will often remind me of the battles with her brother that we used to deal with regularly. There are so many similarities, but so many differences in how her anger and rage come out compared to her brother. Though there can occasionally be an element of physical aggression, typically it will look more like complete defiance. If asked to take a seat beside you, she will create a path through the entire house to lead her to a seat just in front of you, if asked to use an “inside” voice she will loudly repeat “What?” at the top of her lungs. While waiting for a special snack or lunch, I would often let her know how proud of her good choices I was, so she would reach down onto the floor, scoop up some garbage and eat it and ask me to repeat myself. She will ask me for a different “mom” regularly when she’s angry with me. She will spit on any surface, herself included and smear it around simply because she was asked to clean something up. Though we still have many of these days, they are becoming less and less. We spend a lot of time talking about choices and consequences, good ones and crummy ones. We work really hard so that she gets to make her own choices and learn how to cope with the consequences with our support. Sometimes this strategy works really well, other times it takes us down a long and rocky path.
Our little girl is full of personality. She has introduced me to so many new people that we come across on a routine shopping trip, a walk to the park, stopping at the gas station or even waiting at a doctor’s office for a check-up. It usually starts with her batting her eyelashes at her “target”. Then she’ll giggle and look away. She will tell the people waiting behind us in a line up what she ate for breakfast that morning, the name of our cat, if Mom is feeling tired, what she would like for her birthday and it goes on and on… Sales staff offer her free toys, little bags and purses and stickers in almost every place we venture into! I am not a social person, so she is certainly helping me step outside my comfort zone every time we leave the house together. Occasionally she will also tell these random folks that “Mommy hits me.” “I’m so sad today because Mommy yells at me all the time”, “Mommy doesn’t let me play. Only sit on my bed” or “Mommy only gives me yucky oatmeal to eat”. On these trips, she will look at me for a reaction as she announces these stories (they are stories, they are NOT true) to the folks in the store. She will have her lips pursed in a pout and her eyes are welling up with tears. It truly must be heartbreaking to see this sweet little girl with this terrible ogre of a mother in the stores some days. Once we have left the line-up and the store full of glares to see if the police or children’s services are waiting for us in the parking lot, she will grin and look up at me and exclaim how she LOVES shopping and maybe we should go have lunch in a restaurant…nope.
Though we have some challenging days with our daughter, every time she comes down the stairs from her bedroom and announces at the top of her lungs, “There’s a beautiful girl coming down the stairs right now!!” starts our day off with a smile. When she reminds me that I forgot to thank her for offering to help eat the rest of my lunch or for noticing that she chose not to throw the toy at the cat, I have to grin. That’s our daughter. Our littlest girl. One day she is going to make heads spin, just like she does for us each day. We love her so much and are so proud of her. She’s an original and we love her for that!
Posted by: Cara