Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's Been a Year

Today - July 28, 2013 - it's been a year since we returned home with Lyric from China.

These two pics will always be my favorites of that time:

But recently, I found THESE two photos of the boys, which I had missed in the initial emotions of the moment. In each, they are grabbing first peeks of their new sister  <sigh> : 

 (How did I miss these amazing pictures?)

There's this thing that I've done with the boys through the years, I've gone back through their baby pictures after the first year and picked out all the ones that I've loved the best, made a Shutterfly book and then I've framed 8-10 pics of my most most most favorite moments, looks, phases etc of the first year. I've been going through the pictures to do this for Lyric and have gotten all weepy - after the initial cull, I still had a little over 80 pics to cull down, because you know there is not a picture of her that I DON'T love.

And I realized that a year update was needed, if not for anybody else than for me.

I've spent the year sorta waffling on whether or not I was going to do this but so many people requested it a year ago and I have never been able to order the hard copy version of this blog, so I guess I've known for a long time that I would. 

This year update is an overwhelming thing, so much has happened. Really, if I wanted to do this I should have kept the blog going. It's a big thing and there's no way I can cover all the stuff that's happened so I'm just gonna hit the highlights and then let it go.

As I've gotten to know Lyric I've been able to look back over the pictures and the time right after the adoption and I've realized just what a mess she was.  All those time when I'd thought Oh, she's doing great, I can now see the worry and the fear and the grief. She's better, now. :) Then, there are the much more obvious things that have changed- she's got hair now! And, glasses! She's grown about three inches and blossomed and just become a normal little girl. She had surgery October 1, 2012 and the catheter is gone, thank god. Actually, her urologist expects her to be totally normal, all that will remain of her congenital bladder issues will be some not-so-bad scarring right around where her belly button should be. This year has been one of changes, big and small. 

And, it wasn't just her. We've all come a long way and had to deal with some big issues.  My biological sons, Middle Child and Wild Child, brought up the whole concept of Q-Boo's adoption very recently. At 7 and 5 they are just now being able to really process the events of the last year. They LOVE her. For them, this whole experience, after the initial adjustment to a new family dynamic (and once Wild Child and Q- Boo realized that I could love BOTH of them simultaneously) has been very positive.  So, I just didn't see this coming. Maybe, I should have. Honestly, now it's a forehead slapper for me, "Well, yeah, duh!" 

They've both experienced a loss of innocence and it's been an anxiety filled issue to realize that their much loved sister's birth parents chose not to keep her. They had all the questions -why and how and why not - which I did my best to answer in honest but age appropriate ways. But then, they laid me out with the question that I should have seen coming, but for some reason didn't - they also wanted to know if we would ever give them up for adoption.

"What if daddy sends me away and decides that he doesn't want me anymore?" 

I struggled with answering their questions in such a way that the boys KNEW that we'd never do that while still maintaining some respect and kindness toward Q-Boo's birth parents, who did do it. These are heartbreaking questions from any child. I believe that the best thing I can do is to lay a groundwork with all of our children that says we are open to the tough questions and will do our best to answer them. Life is hard, I want my kids to see me as an honest ally as they attempt to navigate it.

So, on that note, let me attempt to fill you in - here we go! (As usual the entries that are dated come from my notes that day...)

One of the first things that I did was to call Carla Blakenship and have professional pictures made. These were made Sept 26, 2012:

Oct 1, 2012
Today, Lyric had her surgery to correct her bladder issues.  I had to carry her back to the surgery area and hand her to a nurse and when I did, she fell apart. Completely and totally apart,  I suspected that she really thought that I was leaving her for good. That was a looong walk back to the waiting area. Over three hours later, post surgery, they wheeled her back to me. She was lying VERY still on the bed and I heard the nurses discussing what to do with her -whether to leave her where she was or to transfer her to the crib in the room.  "She's sorta subdued right now, " one of them said. I know my baby and so I offered, " I'd leave her alone."  As soon as Lyric heard my voice she began to wail and, desperate to get to me, she thrashed on the bed. My suspicions were confirmed, she'd had no idea that I was still there, in her mind, her life had fallen apart, again. She was on her own, again. I reached over and picked her up, she clung to me and then she became very angry. She threw a fit - pushing against me, and fussing at me- and then finally, worn out, she just slumped into me and cried. I would have cried too, had I not been too tired to process the emotions.  I never put her into a bed.  I got her dressed and strapped her to myself in her Ergo, to await the doctor's instructions.

Oct 3, 2012
Just like promised, her language is beginning to explode. Last night at dinner she handed me her plate and said, "Mom...all...done." It's been very interesting to watch (or hear, :) ) her babbling baby talk transform from "Chinese" into "English" -the twisted vowels went away and she sounded much more "English" and then bam! English words.

She now, pats herself on the chest, and says, "Shun-Shun."

Oct 9, 2012
For the first time in the vast majority of her short life my precious baby girl is catheter free! Yes, I had "a moment" in the car on the way home. I also learned today, during our long post-op visit at UAB, that "Stow!" means "Let's go!" and that she can VERY CLEARLY say (um, yell) "All done!"

She hasn't really noticed that the catheter is gone, I'm waiting on that moment. She won't look at her stomach at all and she jerks her shirt down when we try to see the stitches/developing scar so she knows something is up.

Oct 10, 2012
So, it was explained to me this morning by one of Lyric's many admirers (who happens also to be Vietnamese) at the boys' school, that in Asian cultures if a little girl has a cowlick on the back of her head then it's believed that she's gonna have a feisty personality. Apparently, Lyric has two. "She's spicy," he said. hahahahahaha (Oh, lord.)


Oct 19, 2012

 Oct 22, 2012
 It's official. Two weeks after the removal of the last catheter and three weeks after her surgery, Lyric is a much happier girl. She giggles more, she whines less, she eats more, she plays harder, she's just more carefree. So, apparently I'd been lying to myself when I'd said, "She's had it her whole life, she's fine." Dumb catheter. Happy baby and happy mommy!

Oct 31, 2012
Oct 31, 2012

Oct 31, 2012
Wait, let me get this straight. You threw that huge, traumatic, awful, fit simply because you didn't have on shoes? You're perfectly fine to run around the house in nothing but a nasty diaper just as long as you also have on shoes and a hairband? Really? <sigh> Okay.

Folks, I think I may be out of my league with this kid. ;p

Nov 5, 2012
This is Q-Boo's new stuffed puppy, "Apple." 

 Nov 5, 2012
I gave Apple her name because that's all I've heard all day, "apple." "Apple" is the new word that Q-Boo is working on, today. I bought Apple for her because, after her last post-op visit, we went to eat at Crackerbarrel and as soon as she saw the stuffed dog, she picked it up and she hugged it. All the way home she sat and talked to it in the truck, "Apple, blah blah blah, baby talk," rub it on the nose,  HUG IT and HUG IT. She's NURTURING! This IS cause for a happy dance. Huge big deal, really huge.

Nov 17, 2012
"What's dis?" And, pop! She's figured out how to find out what to call stuff. She's brilliant. She takes after her momma!;p

Nov 21, 2012
"I am (Middle Child), I am thankful for my sister."
"I am thankful for...bed and stuffed animals, food,

mom and dad, birthday presents." - Wild Child
If she could, Q-Boo would say,

"I am thankful for jackie (jacket), bah-pac (backpack) and Apple."

Nov 29, 2012
Q-Boo has been singing her version of "Jingle Bells," all day. ("dinga beh, dinga beh, de way" - seriously, I recognized the TUNE) Since I am fairly sure that she did NOT learn this in China, :) she must of picked it up from the 3 or, at the most, 4 times that she's heard it this holiday season. <shakes head> She never ceases to amaze me.

<mutters to self, "lord god, I'm not smart enough to keep up with her" >

The boys told me today that they've been teaching her to sing it and promptly started to sing, she quickly joined in. <sigh>

Lately, I keep thinking about this time of year, last year, how it'd been nearly 5 months since we'd accepted Lyric's referral and it would be more than 7 months before we'd hold her in our arms. I was afraid to hang her stocking for fear that she wouldn't really be "here" this Christmas. And yet, here she is.

Nov 30, 2012
Three little boys run across my backyard and through the house - one carries a Clone Wars gun, one carries a shield and one carries a sword. Lyric runs behind, wherever they may go...she carries a shopping bag.

Dec 3, 2012
Lyric seemed unable to call me "momma" at first. She just didn't have a name for me, even when the boys would call me "momma," but "ma" came out of her mouth A LOT. I couldn't figure it out. It was like she was saying "ma" but not meaning "momma." In fact, I remember now, being really excited fairly early on (and it's still "early," no doubt) that she'd walked up to me and said, "momma." I just found out tonight, that "ma" in a certain tone is Cantonese (she spoke a dialect of Cantonese, not Mandarin) for "no." Baby Girl was telling me, "No!" hahahahahaha Go Baby Girl, go!

In fact, it is fairly possible, based on what I was told, that she was saying, "Not mommy." She could have been telling me, "You're not mommy." Or, "Not the mommy, I want." Ouch. But this is the reality of older child adoption, she remembered another mother (her foster mom) and it wasn't me.

Lyric HATES a black and white picture of the Great Wall that I bought from Carla Blakenship (her link is above.)   It's a beautiful picture and I love it, it would be easy to think that she's not really responding to it but she is. She had two total meltdowns over it (her reaction was of terror and insecurity, she just wanted AWAY from it. She nearly climbed my legs to get into my arms and then demanded to get in the truck. She kept screaming "Sto!" which means "GO!" until I took her outside the house and strapped her into the truck) and one fuss-fit where she fussed so much that the lady at the frame shop put it behind the counter!

I told her, "This is going in the house, you're going to have to learn to deal. You are from China, it wasn't all bad, good things happened too. People loved you, there." Not that she understood me at all.

Oh my. I would love to know what goes on in her little mind.

Dec 5, 2012
<sigh> Feeling a bit overwhelmed. Lyric is doing so well in so many ways but in some ways, she's struggling a bit. She's had numerous "fall aparts" the past few days - a dog that we saw set her off for about an hour, the pigeons at Jason's Deli rocked her world and there was the Great Wall picture a couple of days ago. I'm wrestling a bit with the knowledge that there are just no answers to my questions. I've got some good guesses but they are just guesses. My daughter hurts and I can't really begin to understand why. <sigh> This ain't easy. So worth it, but not always so easy.

Dec 6, 2012

 Dec 10, 2012
I got the Great Wall picture back, framed, it is gorgeous. Lyric took one look at it and hid her face, "No!" Wow.

She IS really doing so well. There was a "cat incident" a few days ago but she recovered quickly and spent the rest of the day giggly and happy. She asked for a bite of my cereal by leaning toward me and saying "peeeeese," NOT her past Lyric-a-saurus scream. She's got a few stuffed animals and dolls that she truly nurtures, she's doing so well with her grandmothers that we're considering leaving her there with the boys soon, she's started choosing to go to my girl friends -the ones that she sees a lot of- she keeps me in sight but she trusts enough to really play with them. It's a process. I know from my own work with my traumatic past that triggers are powerful things. She's been mine for almost 5 MONTHS, I still struggle with triggers after YEARS of being in a "safe spot." I know I'm in a safe spot, it hasn't really been long enough for her to trust that this new spot is "safe" or permanent.

Dec 25, 2012
She loves Pocoyo, it is a Pocoyo Christmas.

Jan 23, 2013
Got great news at Lyric's 6 month check-up at the International Adoption Clinic today. "She's happy and attached," so says the family therapist. We knew it, but it's nice to hear the "pros" say it. :)

Jan 29, 2013
Q-Boo went to her first day of Mother's Day Out today and did great. She was playing quietly when I got there and when she saw me she ran to me, arms up and big smiles, "Monee!!!!"

Feb 5, 2013 
Shew, Mother's Day Out is exhausting for a little girl. 
(<grin> She plays SO hard!)

Feb 10, 2013
This morning, I heard myself whispering to my baby girl, "Lyric has arrived." She has. Finally, after nearly 7 months, the real girl, the real Lyric "Shun-Shun," is here. She has arrived. From the withdrawn, fit throwing, terrified, grief-stricken, angry, panicked, little girl has emerged a sweet, giggly, confident, little girl. <sob> We've always seen bits and pieces of her but lately, I see it everyday, in the way that she acts around us and other people. Carefree. Care free. We're finally there. Lyric has arrived. <happy tears fall>

(see July 24 for the origin of "Lyric has arrived.")


Feb 10, 2013
Here she is, with her snotty nose and her dirty PJ's
 and her half-eaten banana, she's just a NORMAL little girl.

One thing that I realized on this day was that I had such a sense of peace. Her angst was gone, I could feel it, the same way that I could feel her anger and her sorrow and her grief, I could, now, feel her happy and her giggle and her freedom. It was a good feeling.  But there was more, and I realized that there was a peace about me...this is not just her story, it's mine too...always, before there was this constant unease, this constant searching, this constant listening going on in the back of my brain.  Where is she?  Is she out there?  Will I ever be well enough, myself, to be a good mom to her?   Now, I know...yes.  We've come such a long way, both of us. 

March 8, 2013
Today we went to the Social Security office to fill out her paper work for her card. It is a very formal building, much like the ones that we went to in China. A very dressed up Chinese couple and their interpreter, I think (he was the only one I heard speak English) got in line directly behind us. Of course, she got their attention and she freaked out - she didn't cry so much as she did her "shutter-step, if you don't pick me up, I am going to climb you" run at my legs and then she made her panicked/stress noises. How much this mirrored her other experiences - Chinese people speaking Mandarin, (I don't think that she could understand them but she knew, I've spent only a total of 2 1/2 weeks immersed in the language and I knew) official formal feeling buildings, and wham her life changes against her will- I don't know, but I can guess. They sat near us. She kept an eye on them and would not let me get up with out her in my arms.  It didn't last all day, she was giggly again when we got in the truck but going to the park, later, was a disaster, it was like she'd used up all her "brave."  I realized how VERY far we've come but that she is and always will be a child with trauma in her past.   This whole thing hurts my heart, as I told my hubby, "Chinese people speaking Chinese should NOT send her into despair, she IS Chinese."  But this is the reality of what she's been through.

March 27, 2013
New glasses!

March 27, 2013
Today, we picked up Lyric’s new “gass-es.” She was so excited, she loves them. Right after she got them, she alternated between pointing out things that she could see and telling me “Look, Mommy!” and pointing to the bridge of them, giggling, and saying, “Nose!” I think that she can finally see. Sweet girl.

Lately, she’s also begun saying her name, “eeerc,” which is totally new. At one point today, she pointed at me, “Mommy’s gass-es,” and then to herself, “Eeeerc’s gass-es.”

She’s stopped wearing her headbands and moved to the clip-in, barrette-type, ones. The purple owl clip-on is her very most favorite and she loves her pink tennis shoes. Her favorite outfit are the jeans, sweater, and t-shirt outfit with owls. This is so crazy to me as owls were the unofficial mascot of the adoption and I SWEAR that I did not knowingly teach her to love them. But she does. ;p My days of playing dolls are over, she’s become very opinionated and points to what she wants to wear, if she doesn’t want to wear it she shakes her head, “no.” Most things are “no.”


April 19, 2013

April 26, 2013
At last, after 9 months, she can vocalize it. I went outside without her and she appeared from the kitchen table, at the glass front door, screaming. She still has her break downs periodically when I get too far away. I opened the door and picked her up. She sobbed into my shoulder, "Mommy, leave!" Finally, she expressed it. I assured her over and over "No, Mommy didn't leave. Mommy just went outside. Mommy didn't leave. Mommy will never leave. Lyric, I will NEVER leave you."
Thank God -when you can say it, you can heal it. We're on our way.

May 4, 2013
So, we FINALLY took the kids to the shoe store, the boys picked out the same pair of Clone Wars shoes that they've had for three out of four years. <giggle>  Q- Boo literally gasped when she looked around and realized that she was in a WHOLE store full of shoes. <giggle>  We let her pick out her very own pair ("Hello Kitty! Hello Kitty!") "Go show Daddy your new shoes," I told her and she stomped over and flopped out a shoe for him to see. Suddenly, I was reminded of the day, in the Civil Affairs building, that we adopted her and her "Pretty Shoe" stomp. She got to pick out her very own pair of "Pretty Shoes" today. <sniffle, giggle>

May 9, 2013
"...owls on it!" dress

May 9, 2013
Well, they told me but I don't think I really believed it until it happened. Explosion. She recognizes numbers, letters, colors and shapes, she counts, she giggles, she's confident, walks by herself and loves the playground, her favorite sentences are "I do it," "Watch this!" and "What's that?" She now owns a dress because a couple of days ago she walked up to it in a store and said, " <tiny gasp> ...owls on it!" Today, she looked at the check-out girl and asked, "Sticker?" I didn't even know that Target gave out stickers. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I officially have a "for real" two year old! ;p

May 23, 2013
Yay, she still does the China-squat!
(She's trying to figure out an Egg Drop at the boys' school.)

May 29, 2013
She loves all things "dress up"
-hats and necklaces and bracelets and shoes.

June 8, 2013
Three loves.

June 20, 2013
"Mom, how do you say 'peanut butter jelly sandwich' in Chinese?"
 "Hmmm, I don't know. Do you want me to plug it into the translator and see what it says?"
<To myself, "This should be interesting." >
 The boys gather around the computer.
 Out of the computer comes this long mishmash of Mandarin.
 I look down to find Lyric staring intently at the computer screen.
 On impulse I plug in her Chinese name and out it comes.
 I look down at her, she looks up at me, smiling.
 "Is that you?"
 She grabs her dress, jumps up in the air, and laughs, "YES!"

June 26, 2013

July 3, 2013

July 7, 2013
Lyric got wheels at her third birthday party.

July 8, 2013
Today, she turns 3!

July 16, 2013
Today is the one year anniversary of Gotcha Day which is to say the day that we first met Lyric in a hotel room in Nanning, China.  We'd adopt her the next morning at the Civil Affairs building.  But this day was the day that she became "ours."

July 27, 2013
We went to an amusement park. Lyric did not have one fall-apart, all day. Not one. Not when we all climbed onto the train, not when we momentarily lost her in the crowd, not when we strapped her onto rides, not when we stepped back into the crowd and left her to enjoy it on her own. Not one. She, and her entire family, had a wonderful time.

July 28, 2013
I wrote this June 25, 2013: "Today, I'm weepy with thoughts of Lyric. I'm reflective, I'm wondering what the hell is wrong with me.  It's not that I don't LOVE my three boys but I can't stop thinking of her, today. And, then I realize that a year ago, I was preparing to go to China to meet her.  My heart was breaking with its fullness, I had a daughter but I didn't have a daughter. The magnitude of what we'd done and still had to do was HUGE in its hugeness." (I just figured out that date is the one year anniversary of receiving Travel Approval - the brain knows, huh?)

And, now it's been a year.  And, the pre-China huge is still HUGE but we've been through a year of HUGE and I'm still wrapping my mind around all of it. Truth be told, I'll be wrapping my head around it for the rest of my life.

The other day I was watching her and wishing so much that I could tell her birth mom how very loved she is, how cool she is, and that she's happy.  Every mom wants that.  "Happy" for their kids.  I want happy for her birth mom, too. On my side of the ocean all I can see is Lyric's birth mom's loss because she doesn't have this amazing, amazing, amazing, little girl that I get to raise, and kiss on, every single day. My heart aches with it.

It aches with the whole tangled, complicated, heart-breaking, heart-healing, thing that adoption is.  It aches because it has grown so much.  I am not the same person I was a year ago.  I am a person with a heart that is much, much, much bigger.

Lyric's laughter-
the sound of a little girl supremely confident in her family's love for her.
It is sweet music to my ears.

Okay, that really is IT.  I mean it, I'm ordering the hard copy of this blog as soon as I get done here.  It's been an awesome adventure and there is more to come, a whole lifetime in fact, but this part is done. 

   再见        Goodbye!