Thursday, September 14, 2006

Answers to a Momma awaiting her toddler, from three months' perspective

What were the greatest challenges?
She didn't want anything to do with dh when he first arrived. She's known in her travel group as having been trouble.

Sleep. She woke every hour for a long time, and screamed (like I've never heard screaming before) before falling asleep. I wish I had been prepared (emotionally) for such sleep troubles. She didn't have any in ET, so I thought we'd skipped over midnight wakings by skipping over infancy.

Fifty minute (literally) tantrums during which she positively could not be consoled. This was most difficult because her usual personality is sunny (see joys).

I (also literally) got dehydrated, because every time I had a glass of water, she begged for it and cried if I didn't give it to her. And then I'd forget to take care of Momma (one thing to do differently!) She would also scream when other people ate -- she was convinced at first that there would not be enough. We started right away leaving sippies of water and cups of cereal around at her reach and that helped. But oh that screaming . . .

Now, a bit of communication difficulty. She went from speaking kembatinga and amharic to not speaking but biting to babbling English sounds to speaking a bit of English. One morning she said a whole string of what I believe is Kembatinga and then laughed. I wish I knew what was so funny! Perhaps that I didn't understand.

Our ongoing (losing) battle with ringworm.

What were unexpected joys?
Oh my. For dh, the day she finally laughed with him was one of the proudest moments of his life. Milestones are very different with toddler adoption, but there are so many to celebrate!!!!

When she's happy, she is the happiest person I've ever known. She can light up a room just by being in it. She is incredibly smart and funny, and remarkably healthy -- she's two sizes bigger than when she came home three months ago. She sings to herself, and has fabulous pitch (thank goodness).

Did you co-sleep? Do you still?
We did at first. One night she just couldn't settle, so we put her in her room and she fell right asleep and slept soundly. I had enjoyed cosleeping with my son, had expected to cosleep for attachment, and advocated for it for others. Now I advocate flexibility!

Did you stick to Ethiopian food?

No. We have an injera basket, though, so for the first month or so she'd look in there and seem a little disappointed. Now she just looks for sweets.

Have they branched out in their tastes?

She loves pizza and "Doduts" unfortunately, yogurt and crackers with peanut butter or cream cheese. First month she ate anything, now she's practicing being picky (right on schedule, really).

As an aside, had I known she'd already had peanut butter (thanks, dh) I wouldn't have enforced that waiting to avoid a potential allergy thing, and served peanut butter (which I now know she loves) to her brother in front of her (see fifty minute tantrums, above).

What really surprised you?

How much she remembers that she can't communicate. Her "happy" memories -- we framed paintings on false banana leaves and when we first got them back she happily chattered away about them. But just last week I tried on one of the embroidered shirts dh brought back for me and she screamed and cried and tried to tear it off of me. Very strong happy and sad responses.

How much this girl loves shoes and shoe shopping!

How pressured I felt to hide the difficulties in order to advocate for toddler adoption. How I hated being a poster family in those first months.

How I already can't imagine my life without her.

Has the attachment gone well?

Very. At first it was a lot of work, and quite stressful for me. I couldn't leave her sight without her breaking into a sweat of panic and breaking down. Then it became hard to separate out "I really need you, Momma" from "I just _want_ to be held" behavior. I'm still not so good at discriminating that, or she's still really good and conflating them, or she just has me wrapped.

How have they bonded with other siblings?
She bonded with her big brother immediately. Her acceptance of me followed from her trust for him. She adores him, and he adores her. She still tries to shove him off my lap, though, and insists that I'm "Me-me Momma" and that he's _her_ beebee. Hoping that she will start to see that there's enough love to go around.

What would you differently?
I need more time with this one. I thought maybe answering these questions would make me realize what I wish I had known. Only if we ever knew how hard things were going to be, we probably wouldn't ever do them. So thank heaven for our lack of foresight.


Michelle said...

I know this wasn't directed at me, and we're not in the process of an international adoption, but I really enjoyed reading your responses and getting an "inside" view into what it was like. I appreicate your honest with the difficult times as well as the happy times. I'm sure it's a period of adjustment for all involved and it sounds like she has been through so much in short life over there. Wow I can't believe she grew 2 sizes since she's been with you!

Overwhelmed! said...

Excellent post. It's refreshing to hear the struggles along with the joys because the reality is, it's not all a bed of roses.

I really do enjoy your blog so much. Thank you for sharing!