Miranda interrupted my reading of our “naptime book” (so nicknamed because we read it every day at nap time) this afternoon to inform me, “CaiQun is loved, and I am loved.” In that moment, my heart was so full. She is getting it. She remembers what I tell her every day after we finish reading our naptime book. Even if she doesn’t fully comprehend at this point what that means, she is absorbing it as truth.
I think that’s a picture of a lot of our week this week. Miranda is more fully making the transition from being an only child to being one of two children in our family, and that’s hard stuff. Honestly, I think Matt and I were so focused on preparing for the attachment and bonding and adoption-related difficulties we might encounter as we added CaiQun to our family that we somewhat under-prepared for the normal challenges that face any family adding a second child. We’re working through it, though – disciplining for disobedience but offering hugs, snuggles, and quality time for our firstborn. This morning Matt and Miranda went out for a daddy-daughter date, and she was ecstatic. Of course, the prospect of a Panera cookie for breakfast didn’t hurt.
And we actually witnessed our girls playing together this afternoon before their nap – not both attempting to play with the same toys and getting in each others’ way, not even mere parallel play, but actually playing together. So sweet.
And little CaiQun is settling into her place in our family more and more. It’s beautiful to see this transformation occurring before our eyes. I remember reading that getting to know your adopted child is often like peeling back the layers of an onion – it’s not an all-at-once kind of thing, more of a learn-a-little-more-each-day kind of thing.
CaiQun no longer goes to sleep on her own within minutes of her head hitting the pillow, never moving from the position in which we lay her down. No, now my girl knows that there are snuggles to be had, so she stays awake through the before-bed reading and singing of songs and waits for the opportunity to snuggle close to her mommy, hold her blanket and her stuffed hippo (sent by whom? there was no note in the box – please let me know if it was you! she loves it!), and be rocked to sleep. It’s a joy to see those “easy” but atypical behaviors that were cultivated out of necessity during her life in an orphanage begin to disappear and be replaced by a desire for love and care.
Of course, just as Miranda does not yet fully understand what it means that both she and CaiQun are loved, CaiQun does not yet fully understand what this transformation in her life means. I have no doubt that she is enjoying being with us – the smiles and laughter that never appeared in any photo of her we received from her time in the orphanage are now constantly present. However, we have known each other for less than 3 weeks. I suffer no delusions that she completely grasps the difference between orphanage and family or between nanny and parent. She seems to be attaching to us beautifully. She reaches for us for comfort and reassurance; she keeps a careful eye on us when others are here, making sure she knows where we are; and she seems so much more at ease with us than she did at first. But we haven’t even hit the 3 week mark in this new adventure of being a family of four. We’re still very much building foundations.
These are great foundations to be building, though. The mom-and-daughter time.
The sisters-with-dad time.
And through it all, I am feeling blessed not only to be the mother to these two sweet girls, but also to have another window into the character of God and His work in the world. I see my own journey reflected in CaiQun’s, my self-reliance gradually giving way to trust in a God who can take far better care of me than I can do for myself parallel to her growing trust in Matt and me as her parents. I see in my daughters a perfect illustration of our definite status as children of God and yet our lack of understanding of what that means in terms of our relationship with Him and our relationships with one another. I’m grateful for these glimpses into His character and my relationship with Him.
And even beyond that, we’re doing well. We’re finally getting some sleep (sometimes). Last night, not so much, due to some certain small someones being awake from about 4:00 a.m. Tonight I will not make the mistake of forgetting the melatonin again. But the night before last, we all slept for around 11 hours. Glorious! Matt survived his first week back to work (though he’s been on a grading marathon this afternoon), and the girls and I survived our first week with him back at work. We even ventured out of the house a couple times! We didn’t quite do it solo – I wasn’t that ambitious – but my beautiful friend Liz was sweet enough to give up two of her mornings this week, the first to accompany us on a run to the mall post office to send back the CARES harnesses we rented for all of our travels, and the second just to go for a walk around the neighborhood. I almost cried on that first outing – the joy of pushing my double stroller that held my two babies, being back in America where we could stop at any food place we wanted and get food and not worry (too much) about its safety and even order drinks with ice, having real conversation (interspersed with many exchanges with small children) with a friend in person. It felt rather pitiful to be close to tears on an errand to the mall post office, but I’m okay with that. This is good stuff, my friends 🙂