One month (and one day!) ago, we walked off our last of three flights that brought us back from across the globe and were greeted by our two big kids, our families, and many of our beloved friends.
I physically felt the relief in my body. We were home. And after all the months of waiting and praying, we would start our life as a family of five.
I’ll be honest, it’s not been exactly what I anticipated. I’m not sure what I thought it would be, but coming home and integrating Elliott into our life was much more difficult than I imagined for so many reasons.
The first weeks at home were so hard. We battled jet lag, sibling issues, sleep problems, clinginess, fears, exhaustion, a lack of time, and uncertainty about how to meet her needs.
Over the past two weeks, slowly, step by step, it has started to feel less like the four of us are living this awkward life with an adorable outsider and began to feel like we are legitimately a family. It’s starting to feel like it is hard because we have three kids, one of which is a busy two year old, not because we have an orphan living in our house. It’s feeling more and more like she is ours, like we know her and can anticipate her needs and reactions. It’s feeling like we are stretched – because she is busy and makes lots of messes, not because she requires every bit of our mental and emotional energy.
Over the past week, I have felt like the cloud has been lifting from me personally as well. This transition has been particularly hard on me, as I have been the one to intentionally “cocoon” more. It’s been hard to feel like I have dropped out of life to stay home so much for this intentional time of bonding. I think I’m finally figuring out how to care for myself during this time, as well as being able to communicate to the people around me how I need them in this process.
As the fog has lifted, we have also found ourselves able to recognize and celebrate the daily accomplishments and changes in her. 6 weeks ago we met an adorable baby girl, but now we get to witness that baby girl come alive and learn about all the little beautiful parts of her personality.
-She loves to dance. Anytime music plays, she dances. And girl can move!
-She is using sign language to communicate. She tells us “eat”, “more”, and “all done”.
-She has started to repeat some words and sounds (“hi”, “boo”, “meow”, “ruff ruff”).
-She’s gained 3 lbs since we met her and sprouted quite a bit of crazy hair.
-She mimics EVERYTHING. She’s a total copy-cat. I bent down to touch my toes the other day and she keeps walking to the same spot in the living room and touching her toes 🙂
-She seems to understand a lot of what we say. If I tell her to go find daddy, she’ll go find Russ, etc.
-She’s fascinated by people’s hair. She plays with my hair all day. She LOVES to touch anyone’s long hair.
-She gives lots of kisses.
-She is a goober. She likes to make people laugh. If she figures out something is funny, she’ll do it over and over again.
-She seems to be grasping basic level attachment stuff – we are her parents, this is home. Even if we leave, we come back here.
We continue to work out some kinks in things like sleep and eating (always hungry, but fairly picky – rough combination!). I think it has been a relief also to see that, while there are still hard moments, overall this is working. She is figuring out that she fits in this family. We are seeing her become more and more comfortable. And while stepping back from the outside world for the past month hasn’t been easy, it has been a beautiful thing to see her begin to thrive. I can’t wait to see how much more of her we know and adore after another month.