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Sunday, March 21, 2010

ABC...123...Red, Blue, Yellow, Green...

Now I am going back to the beginning again. I've been wanting to build the foundation of this adoption story, and talk about some of the things that were odd, or struck a chord in us from the beginning. Sometimes I wish I wasn't such an intuitive person; however, it is a gift God gave me. I feel like I pick up on things with people who are close to me so much so that I begin to know them better than they know themselves- again a gift from God (and this is only so if they are the kind of person who doesn't have a good sense of self; for example, Isabella). I feel this is true about myself because not only have I tested it out on others, but then I have approached a couple of people close to me on the subject, and they have been amazed at how dead-on I am about how they are thinking and feeling. Again, I know this could only be from God, and I'm sure He gave this gift to me in order to deal with Isabella, because I don't know how I could understand her otherwise. Thank you God! So, even from the beginning, I had a questioning vibe about my relationship with Isabella, and things she would do. It wasn't anything I wanted to do, liked or could control. It was a subconscious thing that I tried to stop. I tried to ignore it, too, and for the most part I did, because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to get as close to Isabella as I did.

From the moment we picked Isabella up from the orphanage, she and I were together 24/7. Literally. When we got home from Russia she was sleeping in bed with us. After being home for a week and a half, or so, Mike left for 3 weeks for work (he was in the military). So, Isabella was in bed with me still. I still get a lot of groans when I tell people that, but I am the kind of person who goes with the flow with my kids. I felt like she needed that for comfort. NO ONE told us ANYTHING with regard to how to best care for her, what to expect, etc. I did my best with what I had at that time! So, right before Mike was going to return back home, I transitioned her to her room, which was right next to ours. But, then I was staying in her room with her all the time so that became a safe place, too. We had a blast in her room! We were constantly learning English- the alphabet, numbers, colors, anything and everything. I didn't have her start school for a few weeks because I wanted to give her time to transition in so many ways (new parents, new home, new life, etc), so we spent all day together. Within weeks I already had her understanding quite a bit (communication- wise)! I felt like we were getting so close! She wouldn't leave my side.
It was voting year, for President, and when we went to the polls, she was literally on my feet because she was so scared to be away from me! The people running the polls wanted her to stay with Mike while I voted, but she wouldn't, nor did she understand. So, she came with me. As I said, she came with EVERYWHERE! She would wait outside the bathroom door. As much as I needed space at times, I had wanted kids for so many years, so I didn't really care. Plus, I thought it was because she loved me so much....
Little did I know, and would find out later, that she just needed to get used to her surroundings and learn English, become comfortable, that sort of thing. Then, I wasn't useful anymore.
One very strange thing happened (not strange to my husband, but mortifying to him) one day shortly after he returned home from his 3-week work trip, when we were meeting friends for dinner at the mall. Mike, Isabella and I had been at a store, and then realized we needed to get going in order to meet them on time. I had to use the restroom (I was 7 months pregnant, so, of course) first, so Mike and Isabella went one way and I went another. For a minute or two, Isabella was fine. Mike and she looked at a couple of things as they were walking on their way, and then all of a sudden things fell apart. Isabella had some sort of meltdown or froze, or something. We still don't know. What we do know is that she stopped in the middle of the mall and started acting toward Mike like he was kidnapping her! I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and asked if it might have been PTSD. Mike said it wasn't, because she was so busy looking around the mall at all of the new things, and wasn't having any problems whatsoever as long as he left her alone and let her "window shop." The moment he told her it was time to go using motions, she got mad. When she wouldn't go with him as he tried to coax her, he then grabbed her hand or arm to let her know it was really time to walk. That was when she had a complete meltdown. She was not going to listen to him! She wanted to look around at the mall, and that was that! So, here I was at the restaurant waiting for them, with our friends, wondering what the heck had happened to them. This was the first time our friends were meeting our new daughter. They were sooo happy for us. Mike and I were so stressed out at this point. How were we supposed to act all happy now? I'm sure many of you adoptive parents were able to blow stuff like this off. But, I had major pregnancy hormones, maybe that's why I couldn't just let it go, and Mike was so upset because he couldn't understand why Isabella didn't love him and want to be with him. It was very hard from the beginning. We thought, assumed (yes, I know) and hoped that when we adopted this precious child that we were helping her and making her life better. It now seems as though this is not the case.
I question that part every day still... Both my husband and I thought we were adopting a child who wanted to be adopted, who wanted a family, who wanted to be loved... Isabella ended up telling us shortly after she learned English that she never wanted to be adopted, it was her sister who wanted to be adopted.
Do you know something else ironic? So I changed how I've been treating Isabella the past week or two. No that isn't a long time yet, but it's been hard work.
So, for at least the past couple of years Isabella has said 'good-night' at bedtime and told us she loves us and hugged us. Now mind you, this was something we taught her to do as she didn't know how to say 'good-night' at all. Meaning, she never had to say 'good-night' to anyone, so we had to teach her what to do and the process. And, for at least a couple of years in the very beginning, we had a lot of ups and downs as this was used as a control mechanism. She would many times not tell us 'good-night' because she knew it would bother and hurt us. But, once we stopped acting like it bothered us, she stopped doing it, or maybe after 2-3 years she got tired of it.
So, ironicly enough, the past 3 nights now, she won't do her 'good-night' routine again! She is doing it again to hurt us. Isabella is upset that I haven't been getting mad, so she is trying to make me pay! That is her mentality (she has told me this before). Plus, she really did some things today to try to upset me that didn't work, so she is mad about that. It is very hard for me to not show her I'm upset or hurt that she didn't do her 'good-night' routine. However, I have to trust God that if I stay calm and patient like I have been lately, that it will be much better than if I get all riled up and upset. That has never worked well for me. Hopefully she will get bored with trying to irritate me like she did last time!


  1. Interesting that you said, "Little did I know, and would find out later, that she just needed to get used to her surroundings and learn English, become comfortable, that sort of thing. Then, I wasn't useful anymore." I have found that our daughter is doing the same thing to me now again that her surroundings and life have changed. When she encounters something she is unfamiliar with in this big world, she needs me again. I didn't see that until this past week when my husband pointed it out.

    Way to go staying in control of your emotions while Isabella is trying to get you to lose control so she can gain control. You are doing well!

  2. Thank you, Lisa. However, I am not doing so well today. I am actually falling apart. Last night and today have been a mess, and I don't do well when Isabella ups the ante this much. I have so many emotions of hurt, guilt, not knowing how to handle the situation, etc. Just a little while ago, today, she broke one of my Easter decorations and perfectly made it look like her younger sisters did it; but she forgot they can talk as well as they can. She got her way and I accused them of it first. Not that I went off on them, but, wanted to know who did it, what happened and the details. Of course when I asked her briefly about it she denied it, so I had to walk away before I did something I'd regret (because this was about the 8th or 9th thing that had already happened today). She also broke her SECOND pair of glasses yesterday in about one years time. Our family does not have the money to keep buying new glasses! And, somehow I have a funny feeling it was done purposefully to make me mad knowing we'd have to replace them. (These are all things she has done in the past, or things very similar, to upset me- especially when she hasn't gotten the negative attention she has wanted). She also did it when we had company over so she could get attention from them as well. That is always another part of her ploy. I will write more on this again, as this has been something from the beginning that has been very painful for me. Isabella does things when we have company to make me look bad. Does anyone else have those experiences?

  3. I can relate to this! Yes, it seems that they learn how to hide their behaviors behind other children in the home. If no one talks, then we will never find out who is responsible for what happened. I am thinking that happened a lot in the orphanage. Some of our other children felt they had to keep silent...loyalty, intimidation, or something. And yes, making me look bad in front of company also occurred. Actually, it was more like using the opportunity when company was in the house to do whatever knowing that we wouldn't want to deal with the situation in front of others. I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time. It is hard when you are supposed to be the one handling these situations when you really don't know exactly what to do and things so easily escalate. And how the truth is so easily avoided making me feel like I had lost my mind. And then you have your other children as well who need you. I always thought it was such a shame our other kids had to witness the battles.

    I am praying for you today. I hope you can get a breath of peace and have renewed strength for today.