Sweet goodness. Has Elizabeth really been home for a week? The first chunk of last week was admittedly a blur as I recovered from a sleepless week in Congo coupled with jetlag… while concurrently changing our parenting strategy from man-to-man to zone defense. However, a week later, I’m slowly feeling like myself again and am no longer gulping down mug after mug of coffee just to keep my eyes open.
So, how are we doing now? In short… great! Surprisingly great.
Let’s start with Elizabeth. I have laughed that her transition has been so easy that I might just have to get on back to Congo stat and adopt again! (Kidding… I think…) Honestly, I’m kind of waiting for the bottom to drop out and all heck to break loose, but maybe… hopefully… please Lord please… our transition really will be this easy. Really… she is such a joy! She is the happiest little thing and oh so active. When we were there in November, we were struck by the lack of Elizabeth’s strength and were pretty sure that she was not yet crawling. (She has spent essentially her entire life thus far in an orphanage crib without the opportunity to move about or build up her strength.) A month later, she is crawling everywhere (including the stairs. fun.) and is taking more and more steps every day. I predict she’ll be a full-fledged walker by January. She is super attached to me, and I can’t go anywhere without her raspy little voice yelling “maMA!” This is very endearing and an answer to prayer… though I totally look forward to the day in which she’ll just as willingly hang out with her adoring dad.
Sleeping has been hit or miss. Sometimes Elizabeth will sleep 13 hours straight through the night in her crib without a single peep. Other nights, she’ll fight sleep like crazy and will end up sprawled out across our bed. Sadly, naptime is more miss than hit. Apparently, Elizabeth has not yet been taught the sacred nature of afternoon naps… but you better believe we’ll be working on that!
Oh and the food… Elizabeth loves to eat anything and everything (oh she is so much fun to feed! no whining! no picky eating! such a novel concept!)… yet we are seeing some food issues appearing which are very common (and heartbreaking) among adopted children. She completely lacks an “off” switch. The child will eat all day if we let her and is very possessive over her food. She’ll FREAK out if anyone comes near her food. This kills me, as these defense mechanisms are so clearly indicative of her past in the orphanage. After nearly two years of inadequate nutrition and unreliable meals, of course she would overeat and protect her food. Oh how I pray for her little heart to heal from these deep wounds…
Carson and Mary Grace are adjusting beautifully to having Elizabeth home. As predicted, our tenderhearted little Carson has been smothering Elizabeth with attention and kisses from day one. Mary Grace has lavished on plenty of kisses as well (to our mantra of “gentle, Mary Grace! be gentle with Elizabeth!”)… but you can totally tell that she’s still feeling out how this needy little bundle of African joy fits into her world. I smiled when Carson came home from school last week and recounted his friends’ reactions to meeting his newest sibling. He was asked by one of his buddies why his sister was “brown and not peach”, and Carson apparently proceeded to provide the obvious-to-him answer of our adoption and the plight of orphans in Congo. He was a bit bewildered… as if duh, doesn’t everyone have a sister from Africa? Love it.
Really, we are all in love and in awe. Our lives have been rocked and rearranged over the past week by this precious little girl, and yet at the same time, it feels as though she has always been here. She has settled into our crazy little family (can we still call our family of 5 “little”?) so naturally and effortlessly. As though it was completely meant to be. And I think that we can all agree at this point… it was.
(some sisterly love in action…ya know, just keeping it real…)