Sunday, August 24, 2008

Adoption Story - Part 11

We had heard and read that it took approximately 72 hours for an older child to come to terms with the fact that she was staying with the new family and to open up. The very first evening, she was quiet and withdrawn. The second day, she was calm and complacent, eating Froot Loops and Chips Ahoy from the Nanchang Walmart. We gave her a bath that day, which she wasn’t too sure about and screamed when water came anywhere near her face. K had some Polly dolls and I handed one to L to distract her. She *loved* that thing, refusing to let it go for the next several days. She even slept with it clasped securely in her hand.

Day 3 dawned (morning #2) and we all went down to breakfast. As we sat eating, L started crying, then screaming and thrashing. Mr. at Home took her upstairs where she continued to scream and cry, yelling for “mama!” and “nana!”. She eventually exhausted herself and collapsed into sleep while Mr. at Home collapsed into illness. The group was headed out for a field trip, but we were stuck in the hotel room with a sleeping baby who was emotionally unstable, a sick daddy, and a bored 5-year-old. Thankfully, we had brought our own snacks and there was a shop next door where we bought packaged noodle dinners.

When L woke up, she had reverted back to her impassive demeanor and we spent the rest of the day quietly in the room with one trip up to the play area where we saw some of the other families. The other toddler came in with her family and we sat the girls together. They were so excited to see each other and immediately ganged up against the older children. Anytime one of the big kids came too close, the little girls would yell, slap at them, and buzz their lips in warning.

The other toddler adopted from the same orphanage, AG, was about 6 months older than L. She, however, seemed to react in the exact opposite way from L. Where L was withdrawn and cautious, AG tried hard to please. She was sunny and interactive with a ready laugh. It was so cute to watch as her eyes almost disappeared when she smiled.

The next morning was a repeat of breakfast the day before. We started well, then L broke down into tears and screams. We carried her back upstairs and simply held her as she screamed and cried, trying so hard to get away from us and back to her home. It was so difficult to watch her heart break so completely and to not be able to fix it. I couldn’t explain that things were hard now, but it would be worth it soon. Again, L cried herself to sleep and we were stuck in the hotel room again. Thankfully, the agency rep had offered to take K with the group to a mall so she at least got to get out.

That evening, Mr. at Home had recovered and we went to a restaurant next door for dinner with AG’s family. We dined on chicken and corn with pine nuts, which L ate eagerly from my chopsticks. After she was full, a miracle happened. Until this point, L had to be in constant physical contact with Mr. at Home or I. She didn’t care which one and she hated to be switched between us. She also had made it clear that she didn’t want anything to do with K. Anytime K came near, L would yell and try to hit her. Now, L slid off my lap and walked around the table to where K was sitting. She had her Polly and a small bowl and she started *playing*. She put the doll in the bowl and shook her violently up and down until Polly went flying. She cracked up with laughter as she watched Polly fly through the air and waited as K picked the doll up off the floor and put it back in the bowl for her. They did this over and over as we all stared in amazement. Where had this child come from? The real L was finally here. At exactly the 72 hour mark.

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