I'm happy to report that J. and TM made it back from Iowa yesterday and we are all together again. A very good friend offered to do the driving so J. didn't have to in his exhausted state. The jet lag has been rotten this time around. Even after waking up in the morning I feel tired, my brain is pretty darn fuzzy, and I'm not even hungry at the right times. About the only thing I've been able to focus on (besides children) is working on the laundry. The last two days have pretty much gone like this. Take some time waking up, get children fed, put in a load of laundry, sit down and stair vacantly into space for a while, read a story to a child, move laundry, stare vacantly, play a game with a child, move laundry, fall completely sound asleep, struggle to wake up, move laundry, etc., etc. Good times.
For the most part, the girls are both doing well. They seem to love their new brothers and sisters and the feeling is mutual. This is especially true of H. and R. I had hoped that they would hit it off and understand each other as no one else could, and I think that is going to be the case. When they first met at the airport, they stared at each other a moment, smiled, said hi, and joined hands. It was sweet.
This is picture that J. took tonight after dinner. Interestingly, we all have a new and profound appreciation for the huge (enormous... gigantic... ) gains that H. has made in the past four years. When you live with someone day in and day out, it is easy to forget how things were, and even if that person is making slow but steady progress, you don't always notice it right away. Enter R. In many ways, though she is very much her own person, she shares many of the same traits and behaviors that H. did when she first arrived home. I am more aware than ever now at how very present and participatory H. is in life. She has an awareness of things around her, opinions of her own, appropriate and real emotions that she shares. It was all there before we left, but I see it so much more clearly now. I've spent a lot of the past couple of days just smiling and hugging her because I am so excited for her. She has already proved to be extremely helpful in being able to figure out what R. is telling us. I'm pretty sure she does not remember a lot of Mandarin, but she seems to 'get' R. like no one else does. It makes me so happy that these two girls will have each other from now on.
We haven't seen a lot of typical grieving on R.'s part, but I wasn't really expecting it. What we have seen, though, is her version of it, which I take just as seriously. She has spent a lot of time asking where her foster mother is. She knew she was getting a new Mama, but I'm not sure she really caught the part where she wouldn't be with the old one anymore. I'm thrilled that we are in contact with her foster family so I can show her photos and we can send messages back and forth.
Y. has had a slightly more difficult transition. Yesterday was tough on her to begin with because J. was (inexplicably to her) gone all day and still wasn't home at bedtime. To top it off, she fell down some stairs yesterday and really banged up her face. She will be fine, but it hurt and she has some bruised and raw places on her nose and cheek. Plus, she really, really doesn't like the way her injuries look. Bedtime for the past three weeks had been a little tough on her, but the past two nights have been really hard. There is no easy road around the grieving and it is gut wrenching to listen to your child cry for her foster mother (to her, her real mother) for over an hour while you rock her. It is necessary and appropriate and hard. Just hard.
And for me, there is still the unfinished grieving on my part for my father. Being in China, it was easy to compartmentalize my life a bit. Everything was different, there were a lot of demands on my time and attention, there was nothing there to remind me. That's not the case here. I have my own grieving work to go through. And I appreciate the hard road I'm asking my daughters to walk in a very tangible way.
Having arrived home from a major trip, we are now beginning to work out the details to get everyone to Arizona for the memorial service. (For my friends out there, it's April 9. Contact me if you want more details.) It's no small feat to get this circus on the road for a 2000 mile trip. And once again, we will be driving cross-country with our newly adopted children. I don't think we've had an adoption yet that didn't require a major road trip after we arrived home.