Well, the honeymoon is over so to speak and the past 24 hours have been some of the hardest I've gone through in awhile. I say hard for me, but really it is what my sweet baby has had to go through. We have watched our little Elliana go from a content happy baby to a very very sad little girl who misses her omma like crazy and wants nothing to do with her new mommy.
She is grieving and grieving hard.
Thursday morning she woke up at about 3:00AM screaming and I tried feeding her a bottle. She refused to eat it, but eventually fell back asleep. She didn't wake up again until about 7:30 and once again she would not have the bottle. Then she went to sleep again. We got ready and went down to breakfast right before it closed and we took some rice cereal to feed her while we were down there. She tightened up her mouth and would spit it out when I would actually get any in.
When we got back up to our room, she still wouldn't eat, but played for a little bit with the boys and then went back to sleep. Does anyone see a pattern here?
After about an hour, she sat on Randy's lap and I was able to give her some baby food which felt like some progress! We ended up going out with our friend Fai Ching (she came from Hong Kong just to see us!) for a little while because I had wanted some pictures of Elliana at one of the palaces and it seemed like she needed to get out anyway. I put her in the carrier and knew right away that something was different. Wednesday she was perfectly fine to be in it and she clung to me and looked up at me and smiled. Thursday was a different story- she was not too happy to have me carrying her and I even tried her on my back just to see if she'd like it better.
Well, of course now I see what was happening. Wednesday she still thought we were just people who came to see her and play with her and that when she got tired and hungry her omma would come back to get her. By Thurday morning our smart little girl had figured out that her omma was gone and that I was trying to take her place- and she was not happy about it. We didn't stay long at the palace but I managed to get a few pictures in between cries. We came back and had lunch and just stayed in the hotel. It was around this point that I noticed that she was fine when Randy was holding her and she would look up at him and would let him comfort her. Randy said later that it was because she must know that he isn't trying to take her omma's place, but she knows I am. Smart guy.
Well, from that point on I knew that we were going to be in for a long afternoon and I told Randy and the boys that until she lets me feed her (she was still refusing her bottle from me) and take comfort from me, then they could only hold her when she wasn't crying. This may sound harsh, but if we don't establish this now- then she will contantly be looking to others to meet her needs instead of her mommy. It is absolutely critical in order to form a strong attachment. They all understood and I think the boys were in a state of shock that this little baby who didn't make a peep the day before, could scream so much!
The afternoon went something like this: I try feeding Elliana her bottle, she looks at me and screams and pushes it away and spits out any that actually got into her mouth. She cries and cries and keeps saying "uh-muh" and eventually falls asleep. Elliana wakes up, looks at me and screams, and buries her head in my chest because she doen't want to look at me. I hold her and tell her how much I love her and stand in front of the mirror so she can see me holding her. She cries when she sees me and would rather stare at her hand than to have to look at me. The boys rush in to see her and they manage to get her to smile for a brief moment and they get her to play on the bed, so I try feeding her again. She looks at me and screams and starts the whole thing all over again. Mentally I was prepared for this, as I knew this would come, but emotionally it was much harder than I was prepared for. No mother ever wants to be rejected by her child.
The first day we had her, we were a little worried because she was acting very much like a 2 or 3 month old. She slept a lot, didn't say anything but cooing, you would lay her on the bed and she would hardly do anything, she can't sit up on her own, she is more fascinated by her hand than any toys, etc. She definitely seems much more than 2 or 3 months delayed. I wonder now though if it is all because it is all part of her grieving. She may be regressing even more because of the pain she feels. I don't know and I am not the expert, but time will tell and we'll see how she does when we get home.
It is now 6:30AM on Friday morning here in Seoul and the rest of my family is still alseep. Elliana did take a bottle for the first time in over 24 hours at 3:00AM this morning. It was dark and she couldn't really see my face so I am not going to get my hopes up just yet. But any minute she will be waking up again and I am praying that she will let her new mommy feed her this morning. You can pray for that too.
Today is a new day and I am praising our Lord for our precious baby girl. I know that this grieving is completely normal and even a very good sign because it means that she loved Mrs. Kim deeply and formed a strong bond to her during her months in her home. I am so thankful for that, knowing that with time and patience and much prayer Elliana will be able to bond to us, trust us, and love us deeply as well.
Love you all and am so thankful for you and your prayers
P.S.*** Once again I chose to be open and transparent on this blog about what is happening with our family. I don't do this for sympathy or judgement from others, but to reveal the whole process that comes with adoption. One could easily look at our pictures and stories from this week and get the impression that adoption is only full of gains and never any losses and that everything is always perfect and wrapped up nicely with a bow on top. But the fact is, if we are honest there are many losses- not too many for us, but significant ones for Elliana as she has suffered the loss of her birth-mother, her foster mother, and soon her country and everything familiar to her. While in the process of adoption, families must be aware if this and sensitive to their child and her feelings.
But oh the gains! There are beautiful wonderful gains in adoption as well. We not only gain a beautiful daughter, but Elliana gains a loving forever family as well. And by family I mean every one of you. She has no idea how much her Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunties, Uncles, cousins and many many friends love her already and can't wait to meet her. She gains the chance to grow up knowing about Jesus and hearing from His word each day and we gain the joy and blessing of being there to point her to Him and watch her grow.