our 6 month post placement visit

Friday we had our 6 month adoption post-placement visit with our social worker. These days I don’t think too much beyond the day I am living, so I hadn’t really thought about the visit. I didn’t do much to prepare other than a quick pick up of the house and made sure all the boys had shirts on. When our social worker arrived we began talking about the last several months and how Little One has been doing. Day to day life is full and busy and there isn’t much time for me to slow down and reflect on things. I don’t think about adoption or growth charts or developmental milestones or even attachment. I’m just a mom with five kids trying to make the most of the days. Adoption brought Little One into our family, but she’s not my ‘adopted daughter’. She’s just my daughter. Plain and simple.

This visit made me take a step back and think about those adoption related things again.

Our last post placement visit was one month after Little One came home. She was very, very delayed in a lot of developmental markers. Months behind where other kids her age typically fall. In fact, at 14 months she tested as a 3 month old in regards to human interaction. You’d never know that now. This time, with exception to speech, she was right on target. What a beautiful thing to witness. Right at the start of the visit our social worker began asking about Little One’s recent lip repair surgery. She asked if I miss her cleft lip. I was not prepared for that question. The instant the question fell from her lips, my eyes welled up with tears and I couldn’t speak. I just wept. I’m going to write about my feelings post surgery soon…it is just so hard to form the words that would make an ounce of sense to anyone else. Soon.

The last few weeks have been harder than normal for my sweet girl. Lots of crying and even screaming from a tiny thing that is normally pretty quiet. She is healthy. She is fed. She has all her basic and non-basic needs met and yet there is something going on in her little head and heart that is causing lots of tears. Talking with those that understand adoption, development, institutional care, etc….it just seems like she is finally letting herself grieve. I know it doesn’t make sense to many…why would a baby grieve a hard past…can she even remember that? The reality is our bodies are designed to need certain things at certain times, especially that first critical year of life. She was deprived of so much and that deprivation plays out in different ways

There are days she cries for really long periods and gets frantic if I am not holding her. In those moments, it can be so easy to feel worn out and worn down. In those moments, my mind goes back to our visit to her orphanage. She’s been home for 6 months and we are still learning each other. I’m learning what things trigger emotional responses in her, but it is a slow process. So much of her history is a blank page for me, so it is like putting together a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Ultimately though, regardless of the missing pieces my response is the same. I will hold her through her grief. I will hold her now as a toddler when she doesn’t even know or understand the changes. I will hold her as a young girl when she faces the grief of recognizing she doesn’t look like her parents or siblings. I will hold her in grief when she understands what adoption means. I will hold her in her grief as a young woman who wrestles with questions I will never be able to answer.

I will hold her. Not because I am a great mom or because we did some noble thing by ‘rescuing her’. That is so far from reality.

I will hold her because she is my daughter.

So today, I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for that post placement visit.

I’m thankful for reflection.

I’m thankful for grief and joy and dancing in twinkling lights.

I’m thankful today is back to normal life with my five kids and loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes.

I’m thankful for a home that isn’t storybook but where love, in all its imperfections, dwells.

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  • AshleyAnn - Kerry – you don’t have to plead with me to have patience and realize those things…I do, I do :) Thank you.

  • Sharon - Beautiful little girl, your Little One. It’s hard to know what all goes on in their little heads, they’ve been through so much and so young. It does get better with time, but it’s just hard to see them struggle. When we brought home our 2nd child (at 14 months) from overseas, she was so quiet, serious and contemplative. She did eventually open up and seemed happy a lot of the time, but there were times, particularly at night when she went to sleep, that she just seemed to be lost. She “needed” to know that I was right there beside her, that she had constant access and that also seemed to be when she would mourn, for lack of a better term. She would also use the same self-soothing habit of rubbing her ear until she fell asleep (she had calluses from doing this so much early in her life when trying to comfort herself). I remember reading that one author’s experience was that if you adopted a child at 1 year old, then it generally would take at least a year for them to feel a part of the family, if 2 years old, then 2 years to acclimate and so on. I don’t think it is true in all circumstances, but it’s a good rule of thumb. With our 2nd adoption of our son at age 2 1/2, it didn’t seem to take as long. They are now 11 and 12, with a big sister who’s 14. Love reading your blog, wish this type of thing had been available when we were going through the many trials of the adoption process! Little One will come through it, I KNOW how fortunate you feel to have her in your life. A GIFT for sure!

  • elizabeth H - “…the greatest of these is LOVE”
    what a beautiful heart you have Ashley.

  • sheri - Beautiful words for your daughter…she is precious. I remember those dark, early days. Trying to sort through the why’s, frantically looking for answers. Blessings in the midst of fear. Somehow you float to the top and can’t believe how far you’ve come. Many blessings on your journey with Little One-such a gift!

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