Tonight was the first night I saw pictures from February 10, 2013. This was the day we arrived home after spending 3 weeks in China. This was the day that Elle and Mae became US citizens simply by stepping foot on US soil. This was the day Elle and Mae finally met their brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins, and close friends. This was also Chinese New Year…so began the year of the snake! This day was so many things! It was so emotional. I was so happy to finally hold my boys again. I was ecstatic to introduce the girls to so many important people in their life. I was relieved to have them home, and to be home. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed by Elle’s reaction of shear exhaustion, confusion, and terror. I was so proud at how brave Mae was acting even though she was also exhausted and confused. Although I wanted to spend more time with all of my family and best friends that came to greet us, I knew I needed to retreat quickly to our house with the girls. We needed to settle in for the night, so that the next day we could begin the journey of finding our normal home life again.
I really loved seeing these pictures tonight…thank you Annie Shelton!!! It brought a tear to my eye. I am absolutely awe struck at how much progress both Elle and Mae….and really my whole family has made in just two months! Honestly I don’t think that my girls even look like the girls captured in these pictures. They have begun to blossom into the confident, sassy, brave, strong, beautiful girls they really are! All they needed was the love and security of family. When you think about it, isn’t that all any of us really need? When we have the love and support of a family, all of us are able to be the best we can be!
In the two or three weeks following the airport, life certainly did not get easier. We were all in a new, unfamiliar terrain. Elle in particular went through major grieving. I couldn’t leave her side. Everyday she went through a spell where she would cry so hard it would break your heart and your ear drums. The crying would last for hours. Her world had been turned upside down. While she loved having a family, we all talked a different language she couldn’t understand, and we couldn’t understand her. We ate food that she didn’t like. She practically lived on hard boiled eggs and milk for two weeks. We smelled funny. We did odd things like watched movies, and relaxed in a hot tub. We left the house everyday to run errands, go shopping, or visit the doctor. We had a dog living in our house. We took baths every night. We played games. We had lots of visitors. While all of these things sound fairly benign, think about how overwhelming all of these new stimuluses are when they are coming at you all at once. These break downs would usually come at night before bed for Elle. They usually seemed to be stimulated by me doing something like holding or carrying one of the other children. I would sit next to her on the floor literally for hours as she cried. I would calmly reassure her that everything was going to be ok! Occasionally one of the boys would come down to complain about the noise. I would hug them, promise them it would get better, and tell them to shut their bedroom door. Matt wasn’t handling it well either. His nerves were rubbed raw. Some nights I was afraid he would run away to join the circus. I am only half kidding. 😉 Slowly it did get better. The meltdowns wouldn’t last as long, and were not as frequent. Now they don’t even happen. Elle is a happy, funny, confident girl full of life and moxie. She knows what she likes, and definitely knows what she doesn’t like. When I am home from work, she is usually very close to me. She is my wing girl! Her English is coming along well. She is now starting to talk in 3 to 4 word sentences. We still hear a lot of Chinese words, and I love that!
Mae Mae’s transition has been much smoother even seamless. The only obstacle was getting her belly full. She could eat and eat and eat. Now her belly is full of love. Her chubby cheeks are evermore irresistible. I tell her multiple times a day in a sing songy voice, “Mae Mae is Mae Mazing!” We do see more smiles and hear more laughs. Both are contagious. She too is picking up more English words. She loves trying to keep up with her brothers!
The boys are doing GREAT! Gabe and Carsten are busy with baseball. Gabe can’t wait to get home from school so he can give his sisters some “sugar.” Carsten is enjoying the fact that Griffin now focuses his ornery energy on Elle. It has been quite a respite for him! Griffin has blossomed quite a lot himself. He is now talking a lot more, and is enjoying mothering Mae. Mae not so much. On the few nice weather days we have had, the kids have all gone outside to play. They fill the neighbourhood with laughter and squeals of joy. Watching all five of them play together sends my heart soaring! It feels, sounds, and looks like heaven on earth. In fact, I can’t picture heaven offering me any more than this….complete and total contentment and happiness.
Matt and I have found our equilibrium. We even enjoyed our first date night on Friday thanks to Grandma Jo. We talked and laughed about the kids, our jobs, our hopes, and our dreams. Our hearts are so full! I don’t think it would be possible to be happier. Adoption is so amazingly beautiful….not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. I am happy we finally found our daughters…exactly the way we were meant to. Life is better than good!