The first week we were basically in survival mode. Thankfully Ben, was able to be off of work for the first 4 days. Ben, Lucee and I were still dealing with jet lag. The first night Lucee slept through the night was Friday night (8 days after coming to America). We were so thankful for our church family providing meals for most of that first week and the care packages that were sent from friends afar, especially in that first week. Lucee loved playing with the toys and going through multiple outfits a day along with her sister (it about drove me crazy, I told Ben I needed a lock on their closet ;) Thankfully the excitement of changing clothes throughout the day has subsided.)
The weather was pretty nice that first week back, so we were able to play in the yard and we took her to a nearby park one day. She LOVED the swings- But what kid of mine doesn't? She learned to ride a tricycle in 5 minutes on our front sidewalk, even though her feet couldn't quite reach the pedals like they should. she learned to use momentum by pushing backwards first and then pushing forwards after it had rocked for her. We continue to be amazed at how smart this little girl is. The first couple days we catered to her meals, but after that we served her what the rest of the family ate. Thankfully, she watched the other kids and peer pressure seemed to work positively in the eating department. We have introduced 2-3 Chinese style meals a week to our menu and even started a tradition of once a week we, as a family, can only use chopsticks. Noah and Lilee picked up on it fairly quickly. Gavin reverts to stabbing his food with one chopstick or using them like a post-hole digger (if you know what one of those are ;) ) to grab his food. Either way, it's good for Lucee to see us including her heritage in the home. There have been times that it seems like she doesn't want to do things because she thinks they are bad in America. For example, at a Doctor visit in Cincinnati, the Occupational therapist wanted her to answer what color blocks were or what a picture of an animal was (in English or Mandarin as she had an interpreter) and Lucee seemed to only want to answer if she knew the answer in English. We had to remind her that it was okay to answer in Mandarin.
Speaking of keeping her heritage fresh in our family, the first Saturday we were back, we were invited to a Chinese family's home (who we met at Apex -our church a few months back) for their Chinese New Year celebration. We were hesitant to go, but figured it would be a good way to let her talk with and hear people who speak her language and grow in relationship with this family. We got to their house and there were about 35 other Chinese people there. We were the only Americans. We were shocked and thankful at the same time that Lucee was extremely clingy to us! In her poor little mind, she probably thought we had brought her back to China to take her back. We felt awful at first until she started warming up to them and gradually began to realize we weren't leaving her there. We love it how God provided this family and group of people who love Him and are willing to come along side us so that Lucee will have positive role models of her ethnicity in her life.
After that first week, we began to feel like life was becoming more normal and not just survival. Lucee's meltdowns had lessened tremendously and she seems to be able to understand and communicate more and more each day. Thankfully, I figured out how to get the google translate to work on my phone and I can communicate issues that she doesn't seem to understand that way. Unfortunately, it doesn't recognize her Mandarin yet, but she has been picking up basic sign language quickly and nonverbal communication works wonders, so we are managing.
Three more things before I go that I want to share...
1) This little girl has a personality that is beyond adorable. Her giggles and smiles are super contagious! Her biggest struggle is learning to share with her sister and vice versa. Her rough and tough brother, Gavin, becomes the most sweet little boy when around her and would do anything for her. Noah loves introducing her to all of his friends. Lucee loves her daddy and has a great bond with him and I'm so thankful that she seems to be bonding with me more and more each day.
2) If you think all of this adoption and bonding and thankfulness, and joy is because Ben and I are such wonderful people, you are completely wrong. We have never relied on God more than during this whole process!! He has changed our idea of what we thought was best and has given us what He knew was best all along. He has provided more than what we needed- emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, relation-ally, etc. For us to think we know what we are doing and we've got this under control is foolish and false. He has heard our cries, seen our failures, and given us grace. So, if you find yourself wanting to say that we are such good people, please take that praise and give it to God who first adopted us and first loved us and who is the only One that deserves it. :)
3) What's on the horizon? We have decided to cocoon for about another month (Cocooning refers to the time you keep your schedule as clear as possible and keep the contact of people with the adopted child to a minimum in order to establish what a "family" is.) We will gradually expand the contact with people over the next month or so as long as she seems to be attaching as well as she has thus far. I'm thankful for this period of time for many reasons, but one of the main ones is all of the appointments that she has had already with doctors and will continue to have. For starters, she will have an MRI in a month to see how much of her brain is affected by the Cerebral Palsy. She has already visited our dentist but has been referred out to a specialist to help with all of her major cavity repair. She will visit an Ophthalmologist to discuss her vision issues (more than likely a surgery involved). She will begin physical therapy to help with her muscle tightness in her ankle/calf area to help her walk with more stability (hopefully surgery won't be necessary and wearing braces at night and during the day will be all that is necessary? We shall see.) Oh, and we also have more paperwork to do with her social security, insurance, post adoption paperwork, and post adoption home study's ... So, as you can see with a "cleared" up schedule, this allows all of these other required things to not feel as hectic as they would if we had a lot of stuff going on.
Thanks for coming alongside our adoption journey! If you have ANY questions or comments feel free to email or message Ben or me. Brandeez@gmail.com (believe me, there's no dumb or offensive question to us)
|Happy Chinese New Year 2016 Year of the Monkey :)|
|Eating traditional Chinese meals at the party|
|Mr. Yu and the Chen Family|
|I'm pretty sure this picture was taken in the wee hours of the morning during that first week ;)|
|Gavin and Lucee sword fighting|
|Dance parties happen often in this family!!!|
|Beautiful Lucee in a Cinderella costume and rain boots :)|
|They were playing a hand game that they made up :)|
|We may be in survival mode, but at least we're surviving together...|