One month ago today, I walked Elizabeth through the RDU airport to reunite with our family and start life together as a family of five. Honestly, it’s hard to believe it has only been a month. As trite as it sounds, it really and truly feels like Elizabeth has always been here. She has just fit so beautifully into our family. In fact, this transition has been so seamless that I feel as though I’m missing something.
Let’s start with Elizabeth. She is so easy! She’s happy and playful and is making developmental strides on a daily basis. Crawling is so yesterday… the girl is walking everywhere she goes. Let me just remind you that in November, Elizabeth wasn’t crawling or standing and had very, very little muscle tone at all. It’s so miraculous to see this transformation occur before my eyes! Verbally, she’s making strides as well. She says the words “mama/mommy”, “dada”, “Carcar” (for Carson), ewwwee (when she poops. ha! i might be to blame for that.), “cracker”, “hi”, “bye”, and… wait for it… “hallelujah” (totally a result of several days with my family and friends in Richmond. it’s really pretty hilarious.). She can correctly identify your nose and ears and seems to understand various things we say. Mary Grace has taken it upon herself to try to teach Elizabeth how to talk… which is absolutely hilarious, as Mary Grace somehow has ended up with a thick German/Russian accent herself. It would only be appropriate if our Congolese-American child had a German accent, right? Only in our family.
As far as attachment goes… in short, Elizabeth will not leave my side if I’m around. She does love her daddy and has done great with him the few times I’ve left to run errands without her. Bedtime is a different story. Elizabeth only wants me then which had been pretty stinkin’ draining when “bedtime” was consistently taking 2-3 hours. In sheer desperation, we initiated a very gentle sleep-training program, and it’s worked wonders. I’ve never been one to “sleep train”, but desperate times call for desperate measures, y’all. Though bedtime can still take a good hour-ish, we’re all feeling a ton better.
Health-wise, Elizabeth has been gaining close to a pound a week. In Congo, she was so underweight that she was given the diagnosis of “failure to thrive” prior to leaving. Not only is the “failure to thrive” diagnosis a thing of the past, but our girl is working her way up the growth charts like nobody’s business. She eats almost anything, but her favorites are chicken, beans, rice, oatmeal, and bananas… all foods she is familiar with from Congo. We have been so blessed by her good health and steady growth. She’s such a little miracle.
So, how are we doing? Surprisingly well. I have joked and claimed Elizabeth to be our easiest child yet. Sure, we feel the exhaustion that comes with having three young children so close in age, but that’s to be expected. The sleep issues sometimes wear me out physically and emotionally, and I’m sure other mamas identify with the strain that can sometimes be felt when one is constantly needed. I remember feeling the same way when I was nursing Carson and Mary Grace. The feeling that I was the only one who could meet their needs was sometimes completely daunting to me. I have felt that way a number of times over the past month, for just as sweet Elizabeth needs me night and day, it’s also obvious that Carson and (even more so) Mary Grace are in need of some extra one-on-one attention. So, by nightfall I collapse in exhaustion feeling as though I have given all I have.
BUT even in the exhaustion, I continue to stand in awe of the miracle of adoption. Not only that God has entrusted us with an amazing little girl who fits so perfectly into our family, but that He could knit our hearts together in such a miraculous way. We haven’t had to “learn to love” or “fake it ’till we made it”… because in a way only our Creator could orchestrate, our love for Elizabeth was instant. When I look into her eyes, I don’t think of her as my adopted daughter. She’s just my daughter. Even I have been surprised by how naturally and suddenly all of this has happened. I completely acknowledge that this end of the process does not always go so smoothly for all adoptive families. Perhaps we’re the exception, and I feel a small twinge of guilt in gushing about our relatively smooth transition. But I must. Because God is here in our midst. He was there when we first laid eyes on Elizabeth. He was there when our family was finally reunited. When our three children play and laugh together. When they argue over toys. When Elizabeth fights sleep and wails in her crib for her mama. God is there. He is, has been, and always will be faithful.