I have written before about how it can take a while for real love, the happy rainbows and happy trees love, to develop when adopting an older child. It's not surprising, really. You are bringing a stranger into your family who you don't really know and who really doesn't know you. Often there is not a shared language or culture or experiences. Plus, since adoptions can take so long, there is the imaginary child who grows in the adoptive parents' minds and who usually doesn't have any basis in reality. The process of falling in love with you new child involves burying the imaginary child and getting to know the real one. It can take a while.
I can remember the first time I felt that "I'm in love with this child" feeling about K. It was at least a year (maybe even two) after he came home and he came running into my bedroom one morning in his usually exuberant way. I watched him run through and I can remember the thought of, "Oh, isn't he just so cute" run through my mind while my heart did that little flip-flop that happens when you think about how much you love your child. And I remember stopping and being surprised at the feeling and then very, very happy. I never doubted that I loved K., but those intangible feelings of love had yet to make their appearance... until that moment.
With TM, there was never one moment where I had the realization of that type of love. The process was too gradual to mark an exact moment. Because the process of learning to love my boys was so different for each of them, I had no idea when and if I would have a single moment of knowing I had fallen in love with H. Yet, last week, in the midst of my own little emotional temper tantrum, God gave me a great gift. I had that realization that I had fallen in love with my daughter.
I was tucking her into bed and singing to her and stroking her forehead as I do every night, when I felt that moment of my heart doing flip-flops over her sweetness. There was nothing else I wanted to do more than stroke her head and love her at that moment. It was a true gift. And for those of you who struggle in this area, it was a long time coming. One year and nine months, to be exact. You can't rush love, but more and more I am reminded that being able to love others is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.
In other H. news, I thought I'd give you a brief update. First, she has two more surgeries scheduled for next year. The first will be in February when the skin expanders will be inserted, then she spends 11 weeks with us slowly filling the expanders to stretch the skin, and in late April, she will have the expanders removed and the plastic surgery done to replace with sebaceous skin/nevi with the good skin. Oh, and I have a class scheduled for me to learn how to fill the expanders. Fun stuff, huh? For the record, being a nurse never, at any point in my life, made my top 10 career choices.
Also, I think I mentioned about my little experiment of having H. tell me what happened the previous day, with the purpose to improving her memory and making her a more active participant in her own life. Well, it seems to be working. In the past two months we have seen yet another jump in language ability and general awareness. And here's the most interesting thing. The few times I have felt as though we should just skip the recitation of the previous day's events and jump right into schoolwork, it has been a bust. She struggles and it's as though she's never seen the work before, but then if I go back and have her tell me about yesterday, when we open the books again, she can do the work easily. As a good friend said when I told her, "Well, that says something. I don't know what, but it says something."