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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Birthday Celebrations of a 7 Year Old!

Our birthday girl had a fabulous time celebrating at Hong Kong Disney and beyond.....and how fun to do so with Mei Mei joining in!  As Ella reminded me, "This was my first birthday as a big sister!!"
Birthday Girl

Ella had a blast at Disney - Lexi was not so sure....
Princess Make-Over compliments of Opa
Quite funny that Elle chose long golden curls as a hair piece - didnt we just cut hers off the day before?
E and her Make-Up Artist, Queena
The photo shoot begins
Enjoying even the silliest of poses
Story time at the hotel
Bedtime Guest

The girls could not have been any happier going off to bed with Mickey leading the way!
Lexi's first kiss from Minnie!
Family of Four plus Donald

In the hotel lobby
Actual morning of birthday 
Celebration in the Classroom
Ella and teacher, Ms. Eves
Another party with friends Anna and Iris - former HK neighbors  who were back for a visit
Wishing you love and laughter Ella all year long!!!!

And as we come to the end of Ella's birthday celebrations, today we honor our wonderful Opa!  Wir Wunschen Dir alles gute zum Geburtstag - we love you Opa!!!

Opa and his four grandchildren in Hong Kong - Dec 2010

Monday, March 14, 2011

Locks of Love

Ella amazes us daily with her big heart and desire to help others.
On Friday she marched into the hair salon and made a special request, "please cut off  all of my curls so I can help a little girl in need".


....and after!!!

Ella is donating her curls to 'Locks of Love' in memory/honor of her Omi and Mimi - two very special woman in her life!!

To learn more about 'Locks of Love' and how you can be involved please read on.....


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Loving Lexi

It has taken five months but Lexi is finally learning to trust us and we do believe she recognizes that we have a significant role in her life. If she could only understand that we are not going anywhere - we are her family forever. Her days are good for the most part, but nights are still so hard - and that is when we see the look in her eyes and the whimper in her cries that tell us she is still not feeling 100% safe and secure.

I read so much about attachment during the years of our wait but it was not until I actually experienced it real time that I truly started to appreciate what it all means in relation to an adopted child. I have learned that attachment is a process that continues through out a life time, and in the case of adoption does not come naturally. I marvel at the difference between the intensity of Ella's attachment to me versus Lexi's. As my biological child, Ella was tucked warmly in my womb for 9 months. Prior to birth,  she already knew the sound of my voice and felt the warmth of my hand from belly rubs. We had an immediate connection the day she entered the world, especially as she was so quickly placed on my chest to begin breast feeding (and hurrah it worked - we were blessed with a very intimate experience for close to a year!). Did I fully know and understand Ella right away? No. It really did take me days if not weeks before I truly recognized the different cries that she had when she was hungry, had a wet nappy, wanted to be held etc. But as I was able to meet her needs our level of attachment got stronger immediately, she had no underlying fear or worry that I was going anywhere. I was there for her since Day One.

With Lexi, our attachment is forming so differently. She was placed in my arms for the very first time when she was already 26 months old. She had never heard the sound of my voice or felt my touch. Quite honestly, there was no immediate connection - we were complete strangers to each other. I felt a sense of love that I had never experienced before as it had been growing for almost four years but it was different.  We felt awkward in each other's arms. I did not know her - I did not know what made her laugh or cry. We spoke a different language and likely had very different life experiences which were influenced by our differing cultures. I had an intense amount of  love to give but Lexi was clearly not accepting of it.  For the first few weeks when I held Lexi she was as stiff as a board. She was not at all comfortable with being comforted by me. Getting her to make eye contact with me was near impossible, let alone to give or receive a hug or a cuddle. It has taken much longer then days or weeks to get to know Lexi, and to be honest we are still working on it but the love I feel for her is so strong and I truly believe she was meant to be my daughter.

During the first days and weeks with Lexi she was quite numb and at other times somewhat emotionally out of control. To help with this we have done our best to foster a highly nurturing and structured environment, we try to keep expectations simple and goals easy, we look for every opportunity to make eye contact - especially so when we are smiling or giving a hug - and generally speaking we have made an attempt to keep life simple and predictable.  As time passes, slowly but surely, we are earning Lexi's trust.

So if you are still wondering what I mean by attachment, I can simply say this: Lexi now often comes to me for help or reassurance when she needs it.  She looks for physical closeness with me and I am usually able to calm her down when she is upset . However, like I said, we are still working on it all.  There are still plenty of times that Lexi pushes me away and needs to be left on her own to process what is going on.  She often will back herself into a corner and just sits and stares. And more often then not, Lexi needs to be in control of a situation - it is almost as if she is not ready to trust my judgement completely. 

As I am the one with Lexi 24/7 it makes sense that her attachment to me is gaining speed.  Although initially she really resisted my love and affection it is now apparent that she at times craves it and needs it to feel safe and secure in her environment.  It is almost ironic because it was not too long ago that I was posting about the fact that Lexi wanted nothing to do with me and now her attachment with me is almost intense at times.  In the past two weeks Lexi has suddenly taken to to needing a constant physical connection to me and quite honestly this is draining.  It is especially exhausting when we are out because she will down right refuse to walk and insist on me carrying her.  Not easy as she is almost 13 kg/ 29lbs! And at night she comes into our bed and if she is not thrashing about in a night terror she is sleeping on top of me - but I will do anything to get her to sleep so no complaint there. It is funny because I have flashbacks of Ella as an infant and me carrying her around the house in a Baby Bjorn because she needed that extra comfort and feeling of security. It made sense to me then and makes sense to me now with Lexi - it is just that she does not fit in a Baby Bjorn so hard to get much done with her in my arms! 

I will be very honest and say that the past five months have been wonderful but really hard at the same time. As a family we have needed the willingness to be honest with ourselves in order to face the pain, frustration, and feelings of helplessness to then create experiences with Lexi that are characterized by sensitivity, understanding and patience. And we have learned that attachment can not occur when we are stressed and disconnected at the emotional level - this has not been easy but we continue to work on it.

I am constantly reminding myself that we need to find reinforcement in knowing that we are doing a really good job in loving Lexi - we can not focus on whether or not Lexi is ready to give that love back or is yet feeling fully secure.  In time that will happen when she is ready.  There is a lot that we can do to help the process but the reality is that so much of it is in her time - and we are prepared to give her all the time she needs.

I think that attachment is a never ending process that begins with the arrival of a child and will continue to strengthen through the child's life - and the reality with Lexi is that we are still at the very early stages.