Today is our packing day. And wow, do we need a day! We are bringing home lots of special gifts for our little girl (and for our boys, too!).
Travis and I keep standing and looking out the big huge window over the city. We're definitely not big city people, and we are eager to get home; but we are both sad, too. Last night, when Meili Joy fell asleep on our bed, I laid down beside her and a huge lump pushed at my throat. I went ahead and cried. I have no idea how she is going to process everything in the next few days. She has been happy and playful (for the most part) with us. She's had her moments, and definitely is a two year old who doesn't like to be told "no".
However, we are also prepared for reality, she has been in China, and in a familiar place with the same smell, busy streets, and mostly Asian faces. Yes, she's had a mix of Americans around her in our travel group; but she's still the majority. She also thinks she's an only child right now.
This is where things get real. There is a lot of one word prayers going on in my heart right now "Abba". The best and most simple prayer.
We can't wait to get her home, and join our boys at home. We know they are going to make a dynamic threesome. I can already tell that she and Justus will battle it out a bit, and that Austin will be a wonderful big brother to her. Sidebar, Justus also doesn't know he's about to become a twin.
What will we do when we get home? And what are we asking of you as our family and community?
Please continue to pray for us. We are already tired, and we are on a 12 hour time change right now, and so is Meili Joy. And this will be new for everyone. This will also be a bit different than when we brought the boys home. We'll need a different kind of support.
We are excited to meet some of our family and MJ's grandparents at the airport. We'll be arriving around 5 pm on March 21st. I hope that MJ will have slept and as long as she has some food, I think she'll be in good spirits. We welcome anyone who wants to see her.
A couple requests:
We do ask that you don't ask to hold her or give her anything at the airport. If you have special gifts, we can save those for later. I believe her brothers have gifts for her. If your kids have something, that is okay. Please be prepared, she may grab it, and she doesn't know how to share at all yet.
After the airport, we're going to try to hunker down for awhile. Yes, I said "hunker".
This is going to be hard; but we are trusting all the attachment/adoption experts on this. We will be focusing our time of connecting now as a family of 5 and in a new place for Meili Joy. We've got a great bond going on with her; but she still doesn't get that we are fully her parents now. And our parenting is taking a huge curve, being new parents to a two year old who we have no solid background information on is challenging. We were told that she was in foster care when we got her file (in Oct), and then we were told when we got here she had barely been in foster care. She has been taken from a biological family, to nursing and orphanage staff, to a three month stay in foster care as an only child, back to the orphanage, to a two week fun-spree with us. So, helping her to create a security in her identity as our child, a sister, and us as her parents is vastly important to her attachment in the long run.
And what do we mean by attachment? There are dozens of articles and studies and professionals who can speak to this; but for a child who has experienced trauma (like our girl), finding a secure place is very important. Even if she is very happy and energetic, at the core, she is still not sure what is going on yet. For her to thrive, we want to give her that security of us as her parents, that we will take care of her. As an infant, our boys figured that outon their own and quickly. We even tried to get them used to lots of people who fed them, gave them things, etc.
Well, basically, with adoption, it's backwards.
So, we don't want anyone to have their feelings hurt or feel that we are keeping her from all of you. Everyone in our community and family have been a huge part of this journey and helping us financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. So, we are asking you to join us on the second part. This isn't the glamorous part. This isn't just the precious adorable smiling child, or the energy of fundraising. This is when we parent and love and grow into a full forever family with a new child who has come from a hard place. You all saw place where she was found. That reality doesn't go away, even though she maintains a very playful disposition.
The main goals, if you are around us, please allow us to feed her, give her things, change her, hand her toys, food, and anything she needs. If she reaches for you (and she will if she is mad at us for saying "no") please go ahead and smile at her and point to us. Please don't give her any toys or things at this time. If you want to give her something specifically so she knows it is from you, you can hang onto it for awhile, and we'll get it to her.
Please pay attention to our boys, too. They will need lots of extra attention.
We know that especially for our extended family, this is a lot to ask. We feel especially for Travis and I's parents this is going to be a bit hard for the first few months. We've always worked very hard for our boys to connect and have special relationships with them, and we want the same for MJ. It's going to have to come at a slower pace. We know from other friends who have told us that if their child connects more with a grandparent more than the parents in the first few months, that it can delay their attachment by months. So, we are grateful that our family understands and is going to allow us to have a different approach for a few months. Having to ask my sister not to come in right away to Charleston to meet her, was hard. She was ready to hop a plane . Having to ask my Mom not to come over to help me for the first week or two, is hard. (She's even going out of town!) Having to ask our special Grandaddy Bag to be put on hold for Karen and Tom is hard.
Again, hard decision; but as her parents, we have to make the best decision for her and help her to thrive in the best way possible. We so appreciate all your support in this adjustment. Thank you for loving us, giving us so much grace, and being with us through all of this. We invite you to the next phase with us, too!
We don't know exactly how long this will take; but we've been advised to keep limited attachment for the firsts month home. So, that's where we'll start. Please keep praying for us, and we will be posting and sharing. We'll be taking Meili Joy to a cardiologist in a few weeks, we do know she has a slight murmur still, and we are praying for positive results that we don't need another heart surgery anytime soon.
Please also feel free to talk to our adoption community, Laura Lewis or Sharon Lyon or Angie Rylands, if you have any questions on the attachment or don't get why we are doing something. And please feel free to message us or ask us, too. We aren't sure how crazy things will be; but we promise to try to be open and appreciate all your grace during this next phase.
I have to admit, I'm super nervous. Living in a hotel with no job to do, and 2 weeks with Travis, and no meals to make has allowed us to fully focus on Meili Joy! Now, it gets real!
We love y'all!
Jess & Travis