There are times it’s hard to believe it’s been 6 months since we met Meghan and finalized her adoption, and other times when – looking back – I wonder how on earth we have done SO MUCH in the last 6 months. We’ve made the rounds through ALL the specialists. Types of doctors I didn’t even know existed. There was a time where every single day new words and medical terms and body systems were thrown at us faster than I could process them, and therapy terminology and goals – and instructions – were moving toward us at warp-speed. We would sit in a stupor at night, unsure whether to just let everything process, or whether to spend hours on Google educating ourselves in this new language and vocabulary. The first few weeks, the stupor won out. Aside from getting her fit for ankle braces, and having a neck X-ray done, and aside from follow-ups on every specialist we’ve already seen (just about), we’re pretty much in a groove of stability.
Our 6 month post-placement visit was last week, and I took a few moments to reflect on our expectations of Meghan, our expectations of what I thought life would look like – within our family, personally, publicly. And where things are, related to those expectations.
This little girl was tagged at being developmentally 6-9 months of age in August 2013. Now 6 months later the estimate is 15-18 months, developmentally. Phenomenal, really. She’s nearly walking – oh. so. close. She can hold tightly to a single hand, and take fairly confident steps, one after another. Let go and uncertainty wins out, she wavers and topples. She loves toys that make noise, she loves pushing buttons, rolling balls, turning pages in books. She loves taking off her shoes and socks, which is an important skill to master in wintertime. (Or not). She’s still pretty resistant to chewing her food. She’s got BITING down (with the front teeth), but the CHEWING (with her back teeth), she just isn’t keen on. We’ve been in therapy specifically for that, once a week. Hoping to bump it to 2x/week soon. She is signing well, she’s saying a few words – mama, dada, eat, night-night, and a phrase we swear is “I love you” (“ahhhhh luh-ya!”). She’s learning signs for eat, more, all done, please, help, ball, and probably others too. Some days are better than others – some days she’s very “tuned in” and eager to learn and go and do. Other days, she’d rather just cuddle or even lay down by herself with some toys (and people) nearby, without truly interacting with them. We now do physical therapy every other week, occupational therapy weekly, speech therapy twice a week, and feeding therapy once a week. (Add in PE for the other kids, piano lessons, AWANA, scouts, etc., and it feels like we’re going non-stop!)
Meghan loves my husband. She adores her siblings. She’s hot and cold with me. Some days, I’m really awesome as far as she’s concerned. Other days – usually the weekends, when the FAVORITE parent is home – I’m just some creature she has to tolerate. She’s been known to hit, kick, scratch, and push me away. Even now, 6 months later. But hurts don’t heal completely in 6 months. They may not heal completely in 6 years. Or 6 dozen years. She not only experienced a lot of loss in her life, she was fighting for her life at times. While she’s physically healthy now, those are scars that may impact her for much of the time to come. But for now, I’m grateful for the times her whole face lights up when she sees me walk in the room, the times she’ll pat-pat-pat me on the back when I hold her, the slobbery wet kisses and accompanying hugs she’ll give me at bedtime. In time, hopefully, the rejection will diminish and love will win. 🙂
In many respects, our lives outside of Meghan are amazingly the same and altogether different. One thing we never saw coming was being moved to a new church home. The week we returned from China, we reminded our former minister that we would be taking some time off from church responsibilities to focus on Meghan, something we had stated at several points prior to our trip. This was a time in our lives when we were spending sometimes 8 hours in the Children’s Hospital in a single day, with multiple appointments flanking that in a single week. It was a tremendously wearying and stressful time. We had nothing left to give, with every ounce of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy being directed elsewhere. He then informed us we were only to speak with him through the church elders. We tried to do this, and tried to speak with him directly, too. In the end though, after many tears and hurt and a deep, deep feeling of loss, we felt we had no choice but to move on. God placed our family in an amazing new community of faith, where we’ve felt a wonderful connection with so many like-minded families and individuals. It was incredible to walk in that first Sunday and hear “Oh! You need to meet so-and-so, she has a 3 year old that she adopted from China!” It’s not a mega-church by any means, but there have already been many people we’ve been able to form connections and friendships with. It’s been so renewing and refreshing to us to be able to go on a Sunday morning and simply be fed and leave with a rejuvenated spirit. I look forward to a time when our involvement can be more than just ‘seat warmers’ but I don’t know when that time will be. 3 months? 6 months? 24 months? I know the time isn’t now, but we’re prayerfully focused on the future. This church is in the process of starting up a special needs ministry, and while I have NO intentions of taking on any kind of leadership role (we are still very much laying low!) I’m excited about being a part of it’s inception.
Kids’ activities have evolved these last few months; we are continuing to streamline in many respects, and are very thoughtful in what we allow to take up our time. They all continue with their piano lessons, and with recitals coming up in a month I’ve been hearing a lot of Mozart and a bit of Tchaikovsky. Kinda makes me wish I’d spent more time with Classical music myself when I was a student, instead of being so infatuated with Scott Joplin and other bouncy musicians. I’m very thankful for their amazing piano teacher. They have become very involved in children’s programs in our new church, and I’m thankful too for the leaders they have and the friends they’re making. On Wednesday evenings, they go to their AWANA classrooms, and my husband and I have what we call “date night” — yes, we sit in the lobby of the church, with a squirmy 4 year old in one set of arms or the other, and chat with other parents. Simple folk, we are.
As for me. I’m starting to look forward to having some free time. Some day. Right now the extent of it seems to be “Hey, I’m going to run to the grocery store for 45 minutes…..alone…!” when my husband is home. I love being with the family, I adore my kids and spouse, which is a good thing since it’s been family 24/7 for the last 6 months. 😉 Looking forward to a coffee date with a girl-friend or 4 one of these days. Or a date with my husband that doesn’t involve choir practice in the background. But life’s good.
I don’t know what to expect from the next 6 months. I’m curious and excited to see where Meghan will be. I’m excited to see where God will place our family – I think. Sometimes being shuffled around isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. At least, not at the time of the shuffling! In another 6 months I’m expecting to see a little girl confidently walking through our house, a little girl who trusts me a little more, who accepts our love a little bit deeper. Expecting to see new friendships and relationships form and/or deepen. Expecting, unfortunately, to see other friendships fade away. Expecting change, I guess. Which may be the best thing to expect.