Well, we have now been home for 2 months and I think it is time for an honest peek inside what our transition has looked like.
It hasn’t been easy.
I loved Mary Alice from the moment I laid my eyes on that referral picture back on February 23rd. I loved her but I was guarded. We had just lost 2 other referrals and my heart was battered.
Over the next few months I was cautious. Excited and hopeful but mostly cautious. She was beautiful and the updates were wonderful. In April we had our court date and Mary Alice’s birth mother chose to keep the option of changing her mind after the first decree. It felt like it was just a re-play of the last year. I was terrified she would change her mind and choose to bring home her beautiful baby girl. May 8th they received her first paper and travel was imminent. I was thrilled. My heart began to race as I thought about wrapping my arms around my daughter.
I was also scared. What if she doesn’t like me? Sounds silly, right?
June 3rd we hopped on a plane and it felt so surreal. June 5th we landed in Taiwan and it still felt surreal. I walked into the orphanage and someone was holding Mary Alice and I saw her for the first time. I didn’t recognize her, she was so tiny and didn’t look very much like the baby in the photos. But I picked her up and she burrowed straight into my heart. I felt the weight of her in my arms and I couldn’t deny it…she was real. She was mine.
The next week and a half went by so fast. There were more diapers and bottles than I had ever seen. There was a lot of snuggling, a lot of kisses, a lot of singing and rocking. There was a lot of crying (and screaming) and a little spit up thrown in for good measure. I began to learn and love her smell, her cry, her smile, her schedule.
She was wonderful and resilient. Beautiful, delicate and sweet. She loved having as much attention as she could stand. But there were times where she had enough. Enough snuggles, enough kisses, enough singing and rocking. She wanted to be alone and quiet. We respected her boundaries.
We flew home. We were greeted at the airport by the many people who had waited as long as we had to meet her. She was so brave. I was exhausted.
My mom stayed with me for the first week and that was so helpful. I eased into the transition of caring for all her needs without Matthew by my side. I had the support of my mom, and I needed it!
In that week, I began to imagine what it would be like when it was just her and I. Alone. I was honestly terrified. So far I had not been alone with her. I felt like she was still a stranger to me. This was not what I had imagined our first weeks together looking like.
She was wonderful. Sleeping through the night, eating well, and generally very pleasant. She was all together lovable. She was also serious, rarely smiling and happier playing alone on the floor than having me (or anyone for that matter) interacting with her.
Something was off for me as well. I still felt like her babysitter. Why? I was with her constantly but couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t mine and that someone would drive up saying that it was all a mistake and my shift was over.
I didn’t give myself a very hard time though. I knew that bonding could take time. I just always figured it would work differently. I thought that she would take time bonding, not both of us.
She started responding to me. Wanting me. My attention and time more than others. It felt wonderful, that connection. I could comfort her when others couldn’t. When I sat her on the ground to have tummy time she would cry until I joined her. I began to anticipate her needs not because I knew what babies in general needed, but because I knew HER. I knew what she needed. It still wasn’t the bond with her I longed for, but it was something to build on.
More time passed.
In the past couple weeks we have really turned a corner, Mary Alice and I. When entering different situations or when around strangers Mary Alice will glance up at me, asking for a cue on how to respond. If I smile, she smiles. If I look serious, she does too. She has learned to trust me and I have fallen in love with her. Not the way I did when I met her though. I love her like a mother loves her daughter.
I write this not to give myself a hard time about the way that things happened or to say we have it all figured out after only two months home. Adoption is no fairy tale. We are strangers learning to become family. In a way very similar to marriage. It is the blending of independent lives into one family. That isn’t easy. It takes time to build the trust and love required. I am happy to say that in both instances; with Matthew and Mary Alice, it was more than worth it. My cup overflows with the joy that these two people bring into my life.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.