one week with my daughter

One week.

It is both hard and easy to believe we have spent a week with our daughter.

I did a lot of reading, a lot of learning, a lot of question asking over the last year to prepare for growing our family this way and prepare for her needs. Every adoption story, like every child birth story, is so different. We have gained much wisdom from others and yet our experience will never be the same as another family’s experience.

This week has been blissful. That is not normal. We know that. Our little girl has shed many tears. I’ve been completely covered in formula spewing from her mouth. We’ve dealt with stares, pointing, whispers. She has shown her temper and passion. And yet, this past week with our little girl has been one of the highlights of my life. I know we are in kind of a ‘honeymoon’ phase. I’m not cooking, cleaning, driving…the days are slow and full of soaking in this baby girl. But it is still real life. I am not in a pretend world. This time is real. It is life. And it has been wonderful. And we are soaking in every minute of it.

In a week’s time we have gotten to learn so much about this incredibly brave and strong girl. Each day she trusts us a little more and lets down a bit of the walls she’s built up. Each day she relaxes a tiny bit more than the day before. She is beginning to show us her silly personality and very sweet temperament. We are learning her likes and her dislikes.

Bit by bit she is revealing herself to us and even showing us she likes us….which is a huge deal. Day by day she is learning she can depend on us and feel safe.

The first few days she would only touch her bottle and stacking cups. Slowly she is beginning to let herself explore and feel other items. For most of last week, she was content sitting in one spot for as long as we’d let her. Now she has realized she can crawl all over and explore every nook and cranny of our hotel room. It is beautiful to see her bravery come out….however, her delight in crawling means keeping her on the bed for naps is a bit of a challenge. A welcomed challenge though.

Touching the computer cable – seems like such a non-event. But it was so exciting for us. It was a huge step for her and I was so proud to see her try it. I’ve mentioned how crucial her hands are to her, she is very protective over what touches them. To see her relaxed and curious enough to reach out for the cable – so, so proud of her. She is still pretty hands-off with most things, but the little steps add up so quickly. We are in awe of her.

After her last bottle for the day, she gets really goofy with her brothers. She is incredibly strong. I’ve seen a picture of her standing in her crib, but we’ve yet to see her even want to try to stand on her feet. Standing on her head is a different story. She really likes the soft bed. She’ll roll around, fall over on purpose and just giggle in all the pillows. She is beginning to delight herself in the things around her and in us.

Several times a day Chris, the boys or I say “she is so cute!”. And she is. Utterly, wonderfully cute. In the last week, we’ve learned our little girl is resilient, she is brave, she is a fighter and she has a deep joy down inside her. As we struggle to piece together parts of her past and story, we end up in the same place – we have a strong, brave, fiercely cute daughter. 8 days ago in the eyes of governments she had the label “orphan”. That is her past, a part of her story, but not who she is now. She is an adored daughter, sister, granddaughter, great granddaughter, cousin, niece.

We’re taking it day by day. There will be days ahead I am sure that I will not describe as blissful. There will be mountains and valleys to cross. There will be tears and battles and unanswered questions. But today, there is celebrating – I have been given a week with my daughter!

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  • MelissaMarie - What a beautiful and thoughtful post. As I look at my own silly and wonderful one year old I hurt to think that there are many who don’t really know the joy of exploring and being held and kissed. And I am grateful to see your photos of one who has been redeemed from that and so happy in her new family! Good Job you two!!!

  • paige - what a beautiful time.

  • Emily @ I Love Farm Weddings - She is extraordinarily beautiful as is the story you are documenting for her to read later in life. So many gifts you are giving her. I am happy for all of you and am touched by your gracefulness and courage through your experience with her. Excited to read tomorrow’s post (and the next day and the next day).

    Many blessings!

  • able mabel - I love your realistic look on life. Your daughter is adorable and I’m sure you’ll make it thru the rough times with smiles on your faces.

  • Karen - happy for you guys!!

  • Michelle M - I love the names that you have called out and given her. As we have been Named, so now is she. :)

  • Lauren - I just went back and reread all of your story since the day you were given Little One and all over again I am astounded, floored, humbled, inspired, overjoyed by the love that has poured out of your family and into your beautiful daughter’s life. I don’t know how this story will one day affect my decisions, but I know I will carry it always. And I have no doubt that one day I will credit your story as the inspiration for generosity, wisdom and the grace of God in my own life. Thank you.

  • Debbie Studwell - Ashley Ann, I have been reading your blog for a while, but never left a comment before. I love reading about your family, and I am thrilled to see the latest addition. As one of 6 kids growing up I get the fun and chaos those numbers can bring. You seem like great parents, and your kids sure look happy, and adorable. I am a 4th grade teacher at The American School in Japan. Originally from upstate NY, college in Boston, I have been living and teaching in 6 different countries for many years, ever since college graduation. At school and at home I like to do basic crafts when time allows. I also enjoy photography and travel. To say thanks for sharing your blog I would like to send you a gift of washi tape. If you give me an address, maybe the church?, or anywhere that you are comfortable with using, I will send it off. This is a real and sincere offer, no tricks, no hidden details, I would just like to share.
    * Please let me know any specific colors or patterns you would like to have. Good Luck with the long trip home!

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - Crying with joy!

  • Elizabeth - these have to be some of my favorite pictures of her…tumbling around…feeling right at home!!
    lovely, lovely girl!!

  • Kirra Sue - So beautiful.

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