Friday, April 18, 2014

My Girls

My girls.

They have come so far in 9 months.

When we told Kate we were going to adopt a little girl from China, she was over the moon about the idea that she would have a sister.  She was so excited and so sweet while we waited for Vivian.  I had a lot of hope for their relationship, but I also wondered what the reality of having Vivian here would mean for Kate.

I worried.

I worried because for six years (SIX YEARS!) Kate was the princess.  Our first and only girl.  On Rob's side of the family, the ONLY girl for a long time.  I worried that once Vivian arrived Kate would NOT be so excited about the person she would have to share the spotlight with.  I worried it would be hard for Kate.

And it was.

Kate heard she was getting an almost 3 year old sister and she had grand ideas of how they would play dolls and house and share a room and on and on with all these ideas she had in her head of how it would be.  She could NOT wait.

Then she got her sister.  And her sister was scared.  And quiet.  And didn't understand our language.  And had NO idea how to play, or pretend.  She only wanted me 99% of the time and Kate was crushed.  And sad.  And frustrated.

I kept trying to reassure her that one day Vivian would want to play with her.  One day Vivian would prefer her to me.   But I heard a lot of comments those first few weeks like, "She doesn't love me", and "She only wants you", etc.  Kate acted out and Rob and I knew she was reacting to all the changes in her life.  There were tears and tantrums and all the things we saw with our other two kids when a new sibling was brought home.

It was hard.

The thing is, Kate never gave up.  She never turned on Vivian.  She just kept trying.  And slowly but surely,  we started to see their relationship bloom.  Vivian started to become more interested in Kate.  She started to trust Kate.  She became less worried about being attached to me at every moment.  Kate's efforts started to pay off. 

And now, they are like sisters.  It has been the coolest thing to watch happen.

Now, Vivian waits all day for Kate to come home from school.  If it is not a school night, they beg to sleep together.  When Kate walks in the door from school, Vivian does not leave her side.  They even share a chair for snack time every day b/c Vivi wants to be RIGHT next to Kate.

What I want Kate to know one day is that this is all because of her.  Because she kept on trying.  Because she took a back seat.  Because she gave Vivian all she had and showed her grace as she struggled to adjust to our family.

Because of Kate, Vivian is learning how to be a sister. Because of her, Vivian knows about playing dolls, and school and house.  Because of Kate, Vivian has learned the joy of playing and dancing and pretending and twirling in "twirly dresses."

And more importantly, Vivian has learned about love. Kate has shown her such a great example of love.  The kind of love that is patient, and kind. 

The kind of love that does not envy.  That is not easily angered. 

The kind of love that always  protects, always trusts, always hopes

and never fails.

Please, please do not take this post to mean that I am saying that every day is as picture perfect at these pictures.  OH NO!  It is not.  We still have, among wonderful moments like above, moments like this (can't even remember what she was upset about here)

I am just saying that the girls have come so far and I want Kate to know how proud Rob and I are of her. I want her to know how much we love her and the way she has handled the addition of her sister. 

I hope these two will always be there for each other.  I hope as they grow up they will hold onto the special bond that they have.  I hope they will continue to find joy together.

I hope they can provide a safe place for each other.  And mostly I hope that they will be not only sisters, but friends.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Daughters of China

Vivian and I had a little get together at the park this week.

Me and a few of my mom friends; and her and a few of her friends. 

There is a special bond between the moms, and a special bond between the girls.  All of these girls were adopted from China.  For the most part they all arrived home within several months of each other. 

We have all traveled through this unique journey together.  Us moms survived the "paperchase" together.  I know each of their girls' referral pictures by heart.  We celebrated things together that were sometimes hard to celebrate with friends and family who didn't quite understand.  Things like "DTC" and "LID" and "PA" and "LOA" and the all important "TA" and of course "Gotcha Day".  It is amazing to me we are now celebrating one-year anniversaries of "Gotcha Days".

We get together for play dates and our conversations start like normal conversations between mothers.  We discuss how to handle high grocery bills, piled up laundry, our latest TV show obsessions, upcoming trips, how the big kids are doing, etc.  Undoubtedly, though, we end up in discussions that are NOT like normal conversations between moms.  We discuss birth mothers and finding spots and orphanage behaviors that still exist in our girls; we re-live our trips to China over and over with each other and we marvel at the way EACH of these girls seem perfectly suited for the family they ended up in.  Really, it's crazy.  We cry for what they have been through, for what we missed, and for the years they had to live without  love and without a family.  And we marvel at the changes we have seen in them and the progress they have made since coming home.

We talk a lot about the kids we left behind.  We carry a burden for them in our hearts.  We have watched our own girls grow their hair, gain weight, go from wobbly or unable to walk to running and jumping, from shy and scared to happy and fearless.  And as we watch them run around and play our minds can't help but drift to those who are still living with shaved heads and not enough to eat; those spending their days in cribs, and those who have no happiness. 

It is a unique bond we share.

And a unique bond our daughter's share.  We are so happy our girls have each other.  The first few play dates together they all basically just stared at each other.

Over time we have watched them each grow and change.  As they have gotten  more comfortable in their new lives, they have gotten more comfortable with each other

Slowly but surely they are getting to know each other.  We realize that one day, in the future, the bond they share will be very important to them.  That one day, it won't be just the moms talking about things that others sometimes don't understand.  One day, our girls may be doing that with each other.  Discussing things their other friends don't understand.  We hope they can be there for each other.

They are such awesome girls.  Each one.  Strong, brave, beautiful.  Their transformations continue to amaze us.  They have faced so much and yet they are full of happiness and love.  We are such lucky moms.


These pictures make me think of the song, "The Daughters of China":
"The daughters of china, they fly across the sea. 
Off to unseen places, and possibilities.
They are gifts to those who cherish them, from those who just could not.
Acts of hope and faith and love, we never will forget."