Some things I was prepared for, some things I wasn't. There are always so many unknowns in adoption, there is no way to prepared for it all. I knew H. would be delayed, I wasn't prepared for quite how delayed. I knew it would take me a while to attach to her, but each time I am surprised by the length of time this process takes. I knew she would have health issues, but had no idea what they would be exactly. And that pretty much sums it up. You know some things, but aren't even sure if what you know is really what is going on. Adoption is a huge leap of faith. Every time.
But this morning I was struck with just how far this girl has come in the past year. A year ago H. was happy to have a mommy and a daddy and a a sister. (She wasn't really sure she was happy to have a brother and the idea of an even bigger brother in the US, where ever that was, filled her with anxiety.) While she was happy to have those things, she had absolutely no idea what it meant. For a looooong time, unknown to us, she didn't realize that this new group of people was permanent, that she was now a part of a family forever. She is still working this out, but is thinking about it at a much deeper level and it is with a sense of satisfaction that she talks about it now.
A year ago, H. was a very hungry girl. Hungry for food and hungry for love and there was no end to her hunger. We just couldn't give her enough of either of those commodities. I knew we were turning a corner the day that she was willing to say she didn't care for a certain food, or the day she left some food on her plate. Somewhere deep inside she is becoming comfortable with the idea that there might just be enough of something for her. The love part, well, we may never be able to fill that well, it is so deep and empty, but we have a God who can and she is getting to know Him as well.
A year ago, she had many questions about the world around her and not many answers. Her vocabulary and her language development indicated a child who had only been talked at and directed to do things. It did not cover the ideas and facts she wanted to know. I will never forget the day when we were at a doctor's appointment with a translator and she was finally able to ask someone why there were clouds in the sky. She is curious and wants to know things. She is finally getting enough English language that we can begin to answer these questions for her.
A year ago, H. was illiterate. She loved stories, but could not read them for herself and had very few read to her. Today, she is reading more and more words and beginning to understand that each word has a meaning. I can see a new world opening up before her. And numbers are also beginning to have meaning rather than being something you write by rote. Those squiggles on the paper stand for something. I can see her brain storing information in more orderly ways. Numbers that she came to us knowing (at least in their specific order in the line-up 1-9), are still difficult for her to retrieve by themselves. But 10 and 0 were new numbers for her that we just recently arrived at in her math book. They are easily retrieved and understood. I am thrilled to see higher brain functioning evidencing itself.
A year ago, H. desperately wanted long hair, but had to put up with her short hair and also begin the task of learning enough self-care to take care of it. Today, I no longer have to help her in the shower or brush her hair for her every morning, she can do it herself. And she is very proud of the fact.
So many gains. So much road yet to travel. The next year will also be eventful as we begin the surgeries that H. is so excited for. At least she is excited for the first one... we'll see what happens after the first.
We recently received yet another picture from when H. first came into care. I thought a bit before putting it up here, because on some level it is a bit shocking. But there are so many children out there who don't look 'normal'. But what they look like really doesn't have a whole lot to do with who they are. H. is a prime example of this. In two or three (I'm still not really clear) surgeries she has gone from this:
Happy family day, H.! We are so glad you are part of our family.