Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eight months in...

I think 6 mos. is the mark. It's the mark I'd tell other adoptive parents to put on their calendar and plan on for the big reveal. That reveal would be the "new normal". I've spent the last 2 mos. looking back on it and I'd say, yes, that is when I realized we had hit our stride and life was set on autopilot and it was working just fine.
She loves the Mosaic Shop

I can't explain what exactly made me realize that we were there. It was Elli's doing. It might have been her vocabulary boost. She'd have one every 2 or 3 weeks but this was different. She was speaking in a more nonchalant way, more casual. She seemed more comfortable with her English although it's far from excellent, it's really pretty good. Most anyone who speaks to her can understand her. That is pretty impressive. But it was more than that. She just seemed more... American.

She's picked up on cliches that are truly American, almost Southern. She completely understands when people are being sarcastic, cynical, and just plain joking around with her. It's quite fascinating to spend more than a few minutes with her and just talk. She loves to just talk and most nights, that is what we do as I put her to bed.

Just after her visit with Judge Brewer.
She was granted her MS Birth Cert.

Her prayers have changed. They aren't as bullet-ed as they used to be. Still, they lack complete sentence quality but they are more like she is actually talking to Jesus. She asks a lot... A LOT... of questions about God and Jesus and people. They are all excellent questions and they make me realize how much incredible teaching goes on in Treasure Land at Colonial Heights.

She wants to know more about everyone. She wants to be able to tell others about everyone that is related to her. She wants to know HOW everyone is related to her and to each other. Sometimes she seems to care about the most insignificant things and yet dismiss some of the most significant. That is, until I try to view life from her perspective and then so much becomes more clear to me.

She allows herself to get upset, angry, disappointed, frustrated. She allows herself to say "no". She allows herself to suck her thumb. That was something that she'd done all along and yet for the first couple of months with us she didn't. Then, one day, I walked into her room to wake her up one morning and there it was... her thumb, in her mouth. It was something she was afraid to let us know about. After all, they hated that she did that in China. Little did she know, right now, I couldn't care less.

I wish I could explain exactly what I "felt" that day when I realized something was different. Different in a good way. I could almost feel it physically it was so clear. It just WAS. It didn't take long to realize that we were settled.

Then, out of the blue, not even a week ago, Elli mentioned her Chinese "parents". UGH! I seriously HATE it when she talks about them. She wasn't treated well by them and she has very little to say. But that night she referred to them as her "real parents"!


I could no longer hold back. "They aren't your real parents" I said.

Laughing at my shear idiocy "Yes they are"

"No Elli," I said in the most selfishly frustrated tone I could muster, "They are just two people who helped you grow up."

She looked at me like I'd lost all mental faculties right there in front of her.

"Elli, you don't have a mommy and a daddy. None of the children that live where you lived have mommies or daddies." I said, feeling like I'd just begun to dig my own grave.

She laid on her bed sucking on her thumb like it was a pacifier. She sucked on that thing so hard that I thought it might detach from her palm. She looked at me intently and I wondered at what moment I was going to see a silent tear fall from the corner of her eye.

"Elli, you lived in a place called an orphanage. That is where children without parents go to live because they cannot live alone. Someone has to help the children grow up and that is the job of all those people that you lived with." I had to say something else. Something that helped her to believe that I was sharing this with her purely for selfless reasons and not just because I didn't want her to mention those Chinese parents EVER again.

"Elli, do you think that if they were your REAL parents they would have let us just come to China and take you away?" More than anything, I didn't want her to have any ideas of future "parents" coming for her.

"I would never let someone come to take you away. Do you know what Daddy would do if someone came and tried to take you away from us?"

She looked deep into my eyes, took her thumb from her mouth just enough to speak clearly and said. "Daddy shoot them." and in popped her thumb and her eyes got heavy.

"Yes he would. REAL mommies and daddies - REAL GOOD mommies and daddies don't let ANYONE come and take their children. Elli, no one will ever come and take you away from us. WE are your REAL mommy and daddy. OK?"

"OK.... I love you mommy."

"I love you too princess. Get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning"

I have no idea what she was thinking as I walked out of her room. I don't think she cried. Maybe she was glad to know those two weren't her REAL parents. Maybe she was confused because she didn't understand how little children could not have a mommy and daddy. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and waited for her to be a little older.

There are a lot of "maybes" with being an adoptive parent. There are a lot of victories and failures and guesses and hopes. There are also a whole lot of joyous moments that come every day that I'd not trade for anything. Some days I cannot count the number of times my heart leaps into my throat just because she says some particular word or because she allows herself a freedom that indicates her confidence in her place in our family forever.

We are just a little more than 3 mos from celebrating one year together as a family. It seems like only yesterday we brought her home and  yet it's as if she was with us forever.

The Farhart family... complete.