Thursday, April 11, 2013

we hit another biggie

big milestone today.

the year has been full of them.

but this one is a big first for our entire family.

S started school today. this marks her first day in an american school system and my first day having any of my children in a traditional school system ever. we have homeschooled since the beginning. i have never wanted school for my girls, but things change. life changes course and so must we.  

not sure that she knew what was happening as her English is still quite limited. i am sure E has explained to her in Chinese what school means, but i really don't know. S seemed unfazed by all the preparations. even picking out her outfit for her first day, she was devoid of any different demeanor than her usual. we walked into school, hand in hand, and she didn't seem nervous at all. 

at least this is not real school, i told myself. the program she is entering is special education geared towards disabled students. there is a successful work program in which the students are taught skills that will help them have a job in their adult years. many local businesses work with the school to provide an intern-like position in their company and the student may stay on in that position after "graduation." for example, there are a few grocery baggers and stock employees at our local supermarket.

it gives me peace to know that S might grow up to be semi independent.

right after we entered the classroom, a boy named david (adorable and lovable), invited her to join speech therapy in which they use iPads. i sat at a table on the other side of the room for moral support. the teacher came over a few minutes later and said, "well, she is comfortable. she just kicked off her shoes."

after speech, a girl named rae, took S by the hand and brought her to a large table. the three started working on a word puzzle. S seems to be higher functioning than the other two, but later some more kids came in and they seemed about her speed.

i had been there about thirty minutes, when the teacher invited me to hang out in the cafe the special ed students run for the staff and seniors with privileges. it is a cool program. the kids work with money, hone social skills, and learn basic cooking and baking. i think S will love it.

we headed back to see if she was ready to go home. nope. she wanted to stay. i told her i was leaving and she barely looked up from her puzzle and said, "bye bye." well then, this little birdie is ready for flying lessons i guess.

when i picked her up two hours later, she was playing on an iPad and had done some reading worksheets and worked in the cafe making egg and tuna salad for Friday teacher/staff lunch. her favorite part was drying dishes. we asked if she wanted to go back tomorrow and she said, "yes! i like-a schooolll." ok, we'll try again tomorrow. no fuss. no trauma. just peace. who knew?

while adopting back in 2011, shortly after we'd received her referral file, i spoke to the waiting child coordinator. she suggested  i speak to the doctor, who had traveled to China to interview and write an adoption file on S, to inquire if she would ever be independent. i told him that i didn't care if she'd be a doctor or lawyer, but wanted to know if she would be independent. he replied, "oh, that one will surprise you. she will be a doctor or lawyer. i don't know why i thought she was more delayed when i wrote her file."

we didn't put much stock in his opinion. only God knows what our true potential is. although, shortly after we got home from China, i knew we were dealing with severe delays and i suspected a genetic issue.

we searched high and low for a doctor who could do a psych exam in Mandarin. after eight months, we found one. nearby too. well, after a comprehensive neuro-psych evaluation, we have some answers.

we also searched for a genetic issue and lo and behold, we found a micro deletion on chromosome 6. it explains a lot. her depressed nasal bridge, the wide set eyes, her low muscle tone, tailbone shape, postnatal growth retardation, and most importantly-her intellect disorder.

yes, the neuropsychologist said her formal diagnosis is moderate mental retardation. we knew it, but it was harder to hear that we were right, than its all in your head.

the search is over. being right sucks, but it reminds me that what a friend once said was true. i am the premiere authority on my children. i know them better than anyone. why don't doctors take mothers' opinions and concerns seriously??

so that is what led us to school enrollment. we found that the same school that denied us special ed. last year, because we couldn't prove any real disability, has a wonderful program. we are starting slow, half days at first maybe working up to full days soon. hopefully S will thrive in that sort of environment. i know it will free us up to bond more. all i will have to do is love her. trying unsuccessfully to teach her was an issue for both of us.

now it looks like we won't have to worry. she will gain some sort of skill set and her potential is still yet to be reached. i Praise Him all day for allowing her a new life where she can be more than her circumstance.


Friday, April 5, 2013

redemption is bittersweet

Gotcha has come and gone. we had been waiting for the moment, planning since the beginning to take the family to NYC every anniversary of Gotcha Day(day the adopted child is brought to the adoptive parents).

every year on our bio-daughters' birthdays, we would wake them up at midnight and carry them to our room. there my husband, the birthday girl, and i would curl up and listen as i recounted their birth story. after telling them and enjoying some snuggles, we would send that year-older-child back to bed with a sleepy grin upon their sweet face.

i placed emphasis on knowing how loved you are at the moment of your birth. no matter what happens in their lives, the last decade + has been the foundation of their being. i pray it carries them through those lonely times in life. that they understand that my love mirrors the Father's Love for us. if nothing else in life, they are loved.

when i started this tradition on their first birthdays, i never dreamed we would adopt two more daughters. i never stopped to consider how it would change our family. i just knew this was God's Will for us. we had more than enough love to give to more children. 

since coming home, we have had many struggles, growth, and joy.

i guess that is why i was surprised to hear B did not want to celebrate Gotcha Day in the way we had envisioned. Gotcha is the story of how she came to be in our family. how God had moved us all. how we all became who we are today.  

she stated so quietly that the day back in march, last year, was a sad one for her.

oof. mom takes one in the gut. how could i have been so blind? how could i have not thought about her feelings?

yes, they are happy to have us, but have been stripped of everything that made them them. names and friends, foods and culture. i'd be sad too. they do not understand their future if they hadn't come to us. they have this fantasy that their aged out friends went to japan. B has lots of friends living in japan. i think that might be "the old dog went to go live on a farm where it could run and play all day" thing.

i get it. she lost so much that day. although she was redeemed, delivered, rescued, and claimed by God that day, there is so much loss. it must be bittersweet.

i immediately asked her what she'd like to do that day instead. we could pretend it is not the anniversary or whatever she wanted. i just didn't want to be the cause of her pain. i love her so much.

she hugged me and asked if we could just have a normal family day? maybe do something fun as it was also S's Gotcha day too. just not too big of fuss.

we started off with normal OT appointments, lunch at a Chinese buffet that had REAL Chinese food, and then surprised everyone with a 3D movie. we did not talk much about that day one year ago. we just celebrated our family.

whew! we passed that milestone.

then last night happened.

B follows me around like a shadow. last night was no different. she was speaking of her teacher back in China as E came in and said, "is that the same teacher who had an abortion?" i almost fell over. danger. danger. volatile conversation approaching...
 i stepped in and asked what that was about. B explained her teacher in China had had an abortion.
i asked if the teacher was married.
i asked if she had a child already.
well then, there you have it. i explained to them that in some provinces some are not allowed more than one child. i explained that the teacher could be fired from her job and her husband too if they did not abort. or they might face heavy fines. you either abort or the alternative is to send the baby to an orphanage.
B then said with a huge smile while holding up the "ah ha!" finger, satisfied detective style, (and this broke my heart), "oh! maybe that is what happened to me."
oh my sweet girl. she could not begin to imagine that she was not sent to an orphanage. she was one of those "not meant to be found."
i will let her have this new discovery for now. i cannot tell her the truth. her self esteem is already so low. how could i ever hurt such an already hurt little girl?
there is a piece of me that feels guilty for not correcting her. her story is her own. someday she will want to fill in those pieces. it is important to know your history.
i know this all to be true. remember? the birthday story tradition?
i'm doing the best i can. my therapist, who works for an adoption agency, said to me today, that i did ok. we give children appropriate information for their ages.  
my soul weeps for this beautiful girl. she is so pretty and smart and funny. i am proud to call her my daughter. someday she will find out the truth and be broken. i cannot protect her forever.
after she realized that might be the reason she was an orphan. E and her went on and on about maybe finding the birth mother and what if the birth mother and i each held one of B's arms and tugged her back and forth shouting "she's mine!" they laughed and laughed, while i inwardly cringed. they thought it was all so silly. a game even. how innocent they still are. cringe.
i ended this fantasy factory by stating, "well, she is an American citizen now, her birth mom cannot have her back." and also tossing over my shoulder, "sorry kiddo. you are stuck with me as your mom from here on out."
E walked off still giggling over the image of the two moms battling, leaving B behind with me. i was hoping she'd follow her sister and let me have a good cry. and oh please child, please don't start asking questions that will further reduce me to a puddle on the floor. 
but then that sweet kid leaned over my back(during the whole conversation, i was installing a new toilet seat of all things) and hugged me hard and said, "mom, you are the best mom i have ever had. i love you."
i couldn't even speak over the lump in my throat.
yes, redemption is bittersweet.