Red Thread

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break." ~ Ancient Chinese Beli

Friday, January 21, 2011

Attachment in Progress

So much to share but really have not had the time or energy to write these days.  Lots of continued progress with Lexi but some set backs at night with going to sleep---and staying asleep. So on top of having a totally wired 2.5 year old during the day (literally does not sit still for a minute and is not napping), we are back to crying and screaming at night for a few hours before she falls asleep.  And on top of that she is waking through out the night - suffice to say I am not looking too good these days!

But on a brighter note, I do believe that Lexi is attaching more and more to us every day.  BaBa continues to be her favored family member and when he is at work or traveling she gets enjoyment and comfort from listening to his messages on our answering machine and carrying his photo around.  P is away this week and it has been tough on L - she misses him a lot! 

As for me, I do know Lexi is attaching particularly because I sense she finds comfort in having me near by when she is feeling insecure and scared, especially at night.  She will light up when I walk in the room and give me hugs but she will also have no problem pitching a fit,  pinching me (this has taken over from the biting) or demanding me to "Go MaMa!" over and over and over again.  Having said that when she wakes at night she comes looking for me and needs me at her side.  She usually wakes for the first time before I even go to bed.  She will come to the door of our living area very upset with Piggy and Pillow clutched under her arms crying out "MaMa".  

Initially Lexi will not even let me near her but then she gives in and will let me hold her for a few minutes - and then wriggles out of my arms and wants to be back in her bed.  She still needs me close by and wants to feel my hand on her while she settles down and eventually goes back to sleep (anywhere between 30-90 mins). Unfortunately, this is the first of many wake ups during the night but again we know it is a part of the process and will also pass as she feels more confident and secure in her surroundings.

My take on her bonding is the following: Patrick, as her BaBa/Father, is something/someone that she never had in her life before - or at least from recent memory. So he is safe and fun to have around.  Me, as her MaMa, still causes some grief of sorts. Lexi had her birth mother for the first 7 months of her life and then her Foster MaMa, who she was very close to, for the next 18 months.  Then in walks me and she is meant to bond, attach and call me MaMa?  What a scary thought!  Naturally she is bonding with me because I am the one with her 24/7 but in her mind she may very well be thinking, "what if she leaves me too?" so understandably a part of her does not want to get too close.

And then there is Ella - Jie Jie/Big sister.  She adds a totally new dimension.  We are assuming, based on Lexi's behavior, that she feels Ella poses a threat.  Lexi is fully aware that Ella has our full love and commitment and that obviously causes her some sort of upset.  Having said that, Ella continues to amaze us with her care and love for her little sister even though she does not always get it back in return. We know Lexi is fond of Ella because after a long day apart, she will light up when she sees Ella's school bus pull up and will say "Ella, Jie Jie" over and over again.  Yet at the same time, when they are together she seems to more often then not push her away, swat at her or pull her hair.  To make it worse, Lexi adores Ella's friends and when they come over she follows them around, holds their hands and says their name over and over again with all smiles.  Of course they eat it up and Ella does not say a word but she does not need to, you can see exactly what she is thinking by the look in her eyes.  We assure Elle often that in this situation this is normal and in time Lexi will turn the corner. In the meantime, we applaud Ella for being such a patient and kind big sis and cherish the sisterly moments when the two co-exist happily together.

Morning tea!
Ella is also dealing with some upset at school. Kids making comments along the lines of "Lexi is not your real sister because she is adopted and did not come out of your Mom's belly".  Once again as you can imagine, it is like a dagger into Ella's heart because Lexi has been Ella's sister long before we ever saw her little face for the first time.  In all fairness to the kids, I do not think they are trying to be mean spirited but more that they just do not understand what adoption truly means.  Regardless, it is still very hurtful to Ella.  We have talked a lot about it and together decided that I will come into the classroom and read a book with an adoption theme in hopes to create some open and honest dialogue that will be meaningful to all. More on that in the coming week.

Lexi's language is exploding and this is remarkable when you consider she never heard English before Oct 11th.  She repeats EVERYTHING at least in her own way - and is even saying things on her own rather then on request.  The tantrums over miscommunication have lessened considerably and when they do appear I am happily reminded that it is no longer a constant occurrence through out the day - I think we are down to only a handful :).

We had lunch last Sunday on the Peak with our friends who met up with us while we were in China at the tail end of our trip.  They had not seen Lexi since then so were a great benchmark for us to view her progress.  They could not believe the changes - in their eyes she has gone from being a scared and timid little girl to what appeared to be an outgoing and secure child -- and of course the amount she is speaking now can not even be compared to what it had been.  They were really  impressed.

Lexi on the Peak Playground

Ella and her friend Isobel doing what they love best these days - the monkey bars!
Overall, Lexi is truly making strides - but having said that I am absolutely and totally exhausted.  Perhaps it is just the shift from one child to two.  Perhaps it is the crazy days and sleepless nights - or perhaps it is being home full time while having a toddler as a 40something year old :) (note - when Ella was Lexi's age I was working 3 days a week!).  What ever the reason might be, it is what it is and it is okay.  Patrick, Ella and I adore Lexi and we really do feel that she is moving in the right direction with all of us (for some at a quicker pace then others!).  We need to remind ourselves that although it may seem like a lifetime to us, Lexi has only has been with us a few months and it will continue to take more time.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Here we are at the start of another year - 2011!!! So much to say but will simply remark on how thankful we are to start the new year off as a family of four!  As we look back on holidays gone by, there were so many times that we would sit and think "I wonder when Mei Mei will be a part of our family holidays?"  Now we no longer ask this....we will just live it!!  As such the Christmas and New Year holiday were extra special for us this year - and we had Patrick's family from Switzerland here to share it all with us as well!

The last 2 weeks have been lots of fun - between Christmas and New Year celebrations and being HK tour guides we had lots going on!  Ella was in her glory having her Opa and her cousins at her side!  Lexi handled the chaos better then we expected but did struggle a bit at night as she processed all that went on during the day.  For the most part we learned early on that it was best for she and I to stay back at home to enjoy some quiet time while the clan went out exploring.  Yet at the same time she really benefited by observing the kids all playing together and is now starting to play on her own - as well as running in for spurts of group play too - if even for only a few minutes.  Lexi's progress continues to amaze us!

 Enjoy the pics to get a glimpse of it all.

Our angel Ella taking part in Christmas Eve Mass
Cousins sitting in front of the Christmas tree

Playing with toys from Santa
Tinkerbell Tamara

The Stillhart Clan at the RB Buddha Shrine
Opa and his FOUR grandchildren!!

BaBa and Lexi out for a walk on the promenade

Junk Boat ride in Aberdeen

A visit to WanChai Market

Tami can not believe what she is seeing!

Another pizza party on the beach - the weather has been fantastic!

Ella was so excited to take Basti on the Frog Hopper at Ocean Park!

Lexi enjoying her new kitchen - compliments of Opa as a Christmas gift to the girls.

And we enjoyed many a show that the kids put on for us

New Years Eve Party


As we welcome 2011, we look forward to the things that are yet to come and hold on tight to the memories that we will always cherish.