Definitely the good. She’s cute, and most of the time, happy.
Bubbles has been in the U.S. for about 1 1/2 weeks now. For 1 entire week, she has been on vacation with us. We made that decision for multiple reasons. We could have canceled our vacation, instead we thought it would be nice to leave our many, many family members behind, and let our kids bond without all the intrusions. Our kids at home had also been promised this vacation for over a year. Disappointing them would have given them a reason to resent their sister’s arrival more than her behavior already does. So, we kept it low key. Some time in Disney Land, but many hours at the pool (only dabbling her feet) and at playgrounds. Bubbles didn’t ride many rides. She spent a lot of time admiring the princesses and riding the carousel. She spent large amounts of time feeding the ducks with her sister while FPD and I took turns riding with the little men. It all seems to have gone well, up until yesterday.
Honeymoon over. She has realized she’s not going back to Ghana. And, she flipped a little. You mean THIS is my life now? With you all? The two weird white people and all these other brown children. No thanks. So, she has decided to test us in every way possible. Will you still feed me if I take one bite of everything, gag and then spit it on the ground? You say there’s always food, so why not test you? Never mind that I ate entire fish heads in Ghana, this PB and J is NOT food. GIMME FROOT LOOPS!!! FPD wants to die for EVER having fed them to her. “Gimme” Everything is “gimme”. That is the ONLY thing she’ll say, and when she does, she whispers it. This from a girl that while in Ghana was the most articulate almost three year old I’ve ever met. Her speech is VERY clear, but all of the sudden, she has gone mute. And, she has lost the ability to walk. She would rather throw herself to the ground and scream then walk ANYWHERE. Even two feet. Our choices are to carry her, or let her ride in her pink stroller. And, if anyone else brushes against her stroller, well, it’s on like Donkey Kong. She yells “I will beat you” and then commences beating. Her behavior is two years old to the extreme. We’re also back to pooping our pants again (well, mostly just her, not me). I have been informed that “toilet is finished. I use pamper now”. Great. Again, an expected regression, but hard to deal with.
These interactions are interspersed with moments of lucidity. She has told the kids she loves them. But, they’re not so sure she knows what love is. I told them that they’re probably right. They agree that it is our job to teach her, because her life before was “so sad” (their words, not mine). After all, who doesn’t know who Winnie the Pooh is? What kind of backward place did she live in? How do I answer that for them? Ghana isn’t worse, it’s just different. Her life before was worse, yes, because she was missing security. But, she had food, and someone took care of her physical needs. My kids understand that. But, they understand that she has a lot of scars. They can see them on her arms and legs. Scars that they don’t have, because she lived “rough” (again, their words). She fell and skinned her knees, and no one comforted her. They might have rubbed it and told her “sorry”, but then she was sent on her way. There were many who were far worse off. Wounds scarred because she picked them with unwashed hands until giant scars formed. No one told her not to. There were no Band-Aids to cover them. She doesn’t know how to play like other kids do, because she had no toys. They have seen pictures of her stacking rocks in the yard. She wasn’t carried before, and she obviously needed to be. So, she is making up for it now. And, she used to pee on the ground, so finding a toilet, well, it’s just inconvenient when you’re wearing a diaper. Some of the scars are unseen. These are the ones that are puzzling me right now. How do I deal with that? How deep are these scars? What is adoption behavior and what is two year old behavior? I might never know.
But, she needs to melt into our family. And, while concessions will be made, there are some places where I won’t concede. “Gimme” will not be tolerated. I can’t buy her everything she points at, even though she is pretty sure that is my role in her life. I won’t allow her to waste food. If you don’t like it, swallow it and don’t eat more, but no more food will be made right at that moment and new meals will not be ordered when the chicken and rice doesn’t meet her newly high standards. You won’t starve in the three hours until the next meal or snack. She will be asked to sit on the toilet a few times a day to “try”. Accidents are ok, but we need to try. Beating is not allowed, and neither is “shut up”. She also has a good command of some four letter words, thanks to the older kids at the orphanage who have NO clue what these mean. Even though I feel like shouting them, I don’t, and neither will she.
I spent almost an hour on the phone yesterday, at my lowest point, talking to the one person who I KNOW understands my plight. She and I fought side by side in Ghana during some of those dark moments. Now, she’s in the trenches with me as I fight to make Bubbles into a productive, well-adjusted, human being. I confided to my fellow vet, that there are moments when I wonder if I ruined my family. Then I remember that I felt this way EVERY.SINGLE.TIME we added a child to our family. While walking the floor with the Diva, I wondered if there was a flight back to Arizona that night. Now it is worse, because the behavior is more severe. Bubbles isn’t a baby, the screaming and pants pooping are on a much grander scale and come with a few other rather unflattering behaviors. There have been moments when I thought, can I just take her back? Would they notice if I just pulled into the driveway and plunked her little screaming body on the doorstep of the orphanage? Then the moments of lucidity enter, the storm clears and she’s the little girl you see in the picture above, and I realize how much I love her, and how much she’s accomplished in the week and a half that she has been here. We’ve all accomplished a lot, and we’re moving forward to a new normal. When the new normal arrives, we’ll let you know.
No one should have to feel like these feelings are wrong, so I’m putting them out there. There are people who WILL NOT talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of adding a toddler or older child to your family. And, I want Bubbles to know, when she finally does make it to that stable place, that she came a long way to become part of a family that always loved her very much. The unflattering behaviors didn’t make us love her any less. Even when she has pooped her pants while gagging on her lunch and yelling “gimme” because she sees something that she just MUST have for her very own. We love you anyway, and, this too shall pass. RIGHT? IT WILL PASS? SOMEONE, PLEASE TELL ME THAT IT WILL PASS?
who thinks she might need a Coke the size of her head.