I never knew how much rejection I could feel from a 2 year old. I had the knowledge I needed to prepare myself. I thought I was prepared.
I have learned that your heart can hurt terribly even when your head knows better.
I have learned that a 2 year old can unintentionally hurt the feelings of a 43 year old.
I have learned how hard it was for Stan, when we adopted Josie-Tatum, and she attached to me exclusively.
I have learned that it is easy to get "caught up" in a medical condition and lose sight of the child.
I have learned that some miracles take time.
I talked with a friend after we'd been home just a few months. She, too had adopted a 2 year old. We discussed the differences in our most recent adoptions from our first adoptions. Perhaps it takes longer for parent and child to bond, when the child doesn't need the parent so much. Josie-Tatum couldn't yet walk, wasn't yet talking, still took a bottle. She needed me for her basic needs, and she knew it.
Ellie couldn't yet walk, but she had learned how to be independent in spite of that. She could feed herself, and she could talk, even though we had no idea what she was saying. She was independent enough to think she didn't need me, though I knew she did. While her independence will help her overcome many obstacles in life, it hindered our bonding process.
I was sometimes surprised at the great effort I had to put into loving on her when she pushed me away. Amazingly, the adult human spirit is NOT drawn to love on a child when that child is not returning the love. That does not mean I did not love her. It was just hard sometimes to be affectionate.
I want other adoptive parents to know that attachment and bonding can be a struggle.
But, I also want them to know it will happen.
We've been a Forever Family 6 months today! I am amazed at how much Ellie has changed, how much I have changed. I am overjoyed to see her when I get home from work. (The feeling is mutual.) Yesterday, Ellie said, "Will you play with me, Mama?" I'm sure you know my answer.
Yesterday, it felt so good, just to have her sit in my lap. Yesterday, she felt like my little girl sitting in my lap. Six months ago, while I was so glad to be holding her, it felt like holding a friend's child.
Ellie loves hugs and kisses, and gives them more freely than most children. She loves her mama more than I thought she might. She even wants my help at mealtimes now, even when she doesn't need me. Sometimes, I think she is reverting to some immature behaviors, but I also think that is good. It allows me to do for her what I could have done for her when she was younger.
I am growing to enjoy bed time more and more each day. At bedtime, Ellie, Josie-Tatum, and read stories together. Somehow a little play time comes in. It's followed by prayers, hugs, and kisses. It is such a blessing when Ellie keeps pulling me back to her to get one more hug. She is really learning what it is like to be part of a family.
I love to hear her tell others, "Thisa MY mama." "Thisa MY daddy." "Thisa MY sister."
My daddy loves to hear her say, "This MY yeye. MY grandpa." She is learning that she has a family that is HERS. She is learning what it is like to truly belong.
And, as that happens, the meltdowns are fewer, the power struggles are fewer. I can ask her to do something, and, when she obeys say, "Thank you." She readily says, "You're welcome." She has a desire to please her parents that is sometimes stronger than her desire/need to have control.
And, I am so glad, God, in His infinite wisdom, made Ellie a part of our family. I cannot imagine going home today and finding her not there. I can't imagine Josie-Tatum without Ellie to play with. I can't imagine not hearing her shout "Let's go Brandon!" at soccer games. I cannot imagine not hearing her say, "I love you." I can't imagine my home without her giggles. They are contagious. She is loud, and she is loving, and she is AMAZING.
Thank you, Jesus, for 6 months! I look foward to the rest of our lives!