Returning is a word that has been forefront in my mind. I watch sweet Grace all day for her to return to me. We are being meticulous about her schedule, her routine and her little world in order to establish her sense of safety and constancy. She explores and investigates, but my heart leaps a little every time she comes running back to me to return to her mama. When she reaches out to me in the midst of meeting someone new, or like today, when she was in another room and I held a friend's baby for a brief moment and she came around the corner and burst into tears. She wanted to return and needed to desperately know that she could. I scooped her up quickly and she looked in my eyes and said "Ahhh" in the same tone I use when we play with her babydoll and I say, "Ahhh, sweet baby" and rock it to sleep.
In adoption land, we are doing miraculously well. She likes her family, has fun and plays with us during the day, sleeps 11-12 hours at night and has almost settled into a 2 hour nap. She loves for us to read to her, eats like a champ and is so chatty for a child with a cleft lip and palate. She knows 3 signs to communicate and actually has about 10-15 "words" that sound very much like the ones we teach her, just in her modified way of saying them. If I ask her if she wants to go take a bath, she takes off in her frankenstein baby walk/run to the bathroom yelling in delight! She understands so much.
And it is what she understands that makes it difficult to. I am convinced there was a time or times that she went hungry or did not get enough. There have been some tantrums surrounding food and she eats with such stress sometimes that I know food or the lack thereof is an issue. This past week, she has decided to push every button I own and test everything concerning me. It is an over and over again pattern of calmly establishing boundaries and safety. Praising in abundance the successes. Firmly standing ground on the important things. Giving in on the things that are not. There are heartbreaking behaviors that I know will go in time, but grieve us nonetheless. Every night, I tuck her bottle under my chin and feed her like an infant, her little body curled up on mine, looking up at my face, covered in my arms. This is a huge step for her. She used to want to sit up, facing outward and hold her own bottle and drink it quickly in record time. She now curls up and even chooses to look at my face now and then as she drinks. But, as soon as the milk is gone, she literally busts out of my arms as if to say, "I can't trust that I can get too comfortable here. You might leave. I take care of myself." She won't settle. She is great at fun and crazy play, peek a boo, singing and dancing, but getting too close is getting too serious. Too committed. She will often throw a tantrum because she prefers to rock herself to sleep in an almost violent rocking motion in her crib. This is what she has known and how she has learned to soothe herself. It destroys us every time we see it. So, each night, I have worked little by little to encourage her to "rest" and "relax" in my lap, to get sleepy or go to sleep in my arms before she goes in the crib. This usually involves a tantrum and tonight started the same way. Sometimes she gets so mad and upset that her kicking and fighting me forces me to put her down. I always give her the option. Tonight, she wanted down and laid down on the floor by feet. If I spoke to her lovingly, she literally turned her body away from me, as if my very voice angered her. We did this about 3 times, I would pick her up, screaming and kicking and put her down. The last time, I picked her up and held her like a baby in my arms, with her face looking up at mine. She became very still. Then, she took a big breath and sighed. I felt her body rest. She chose to return to my arms and rest. Then, she gave me her mega watt grin that lights up her entire face and we both giggled. She rested there, playing with my face and hair and I put her to bed sleepy and happy. Thank you God. Thank you that you authored the return in every way. Thank you that you wait for it. Thank you that I got a needlepoint glimpse of how you must feel every time we do. The entire day didn't matter when Grace chose me and rested. It made everything OK and I had been waiting for weeks for her to choose me at night. How you must too.
So, Teshuvah is where I am at. A precious place to be in the advent season. A precious place to be in the attachment season. A necessary place for my heart to be everyday.
Some of my favorite recent pics for the blog stalkers who just want to see pics of Grace!!!
Grace and her favorite guy!
"I don't know why we are standing at this fence looking at trees but if this is what we do, I'm in!"
A little blurry, but I love the pjs with sneakers and the sheer fun in playing with a gift bag!
Little Grace and Big Will!
Practicing our relaxed "sighs" and "surprised" response, along with "bye bye!"
This just makes me smile. I love this picture so much.