I have read alot of adoption blogs as we contemplated adoption and then waited to bring Charlotte home. Alot of them say they have a hard time feeling connected and finding it difficult to feel the same love & bond they have with their biological children. I had some of these fears as we prepared to leave for China. What if she rejects me? What if I don't have a connection with her?
So now I want to share my feelings of our last few weeks together. I want to be completely honest and not sugar coat it....we ABSOLUTEY, POSITIVELY, LOVE this girl and I know our bond will only grow with time but, I could NOT HAVE IMAGINED an easier transition for her to our family. I sat there holding her last night and her little head laying on my chest and it just hit me...she isn't my biological child & no one will ever say she looks like me but, yet it really is THE SAME love. It was like my heart doesn't realize that she isn't of my body and I've just felt the same as I did when I rocked my boys to sleep as babies. .
We all just adore her and her transition is absolutely nothing short of a miracle. She seems like such a happy girl with us. I only wish her foster parents & birth parents could see her and how she has adjusted. Her foster parents must have been amazing & my mom said recently that her birth parents must have been smart because she is just a little genious baby & continues to shock us all. :) LOL!
We did courses online, read books & watched numerous videos on attachment and what to expect. I expected a shy little girl that wanted me to hold her alot and I imagined spending alot of time at home just trying to get used to each other. We have seen no signs of her having any anxiety or behaviors of having been neglected or in an orphanage. What we have is one of the most outgoing little girls I know. She smiles all of the time and loves being in bigger group settings. So I have had to modify my thoughts on everything I expected & we are just taking 1 day at a time and loving her.
Things about Charlotte:
1) She shakes her head back & forth for no
2) She loves other kids and isn't shy even in big groups
3) She is understanding almost all of what we say it seems...this has amazed me!
4) She LOVES to kiss us and is very affectionate.
5) She now loves all 3 of her brothers and her Baba so that is GREAT!
6) She is sleeping through the night again and now we just lay down with her (in our bed) and she goes right off to sleep without a whimper. She does wake up occassionally to roll over & give me kisses in her sleep! So cute!
7) She likes everyone in our immediate family and if others try to get her to come to them, she most of the time will shake her head no & hold on tighter to us. Sometimes she will go to someone though like at the Santa's Village she LOVED the merry go round and she gladly reached for my best friend because she was closer to the merry go round. LOL! She cried every time we had to get off the merry go round. :) This is the only time I have seen her have a typical toddler fit. :)
8) Communication with her is easier than I anticipated. She points to my drink and then points to her mouth if she is wanting a drink. She pulls my hand or gently pushes my head to get my attention & points at things. The other day at the doctors office I was sitting in the floor with her playing as we talked to the doctor & she grabbed my hand & patted the chair. :) She wanted me to sit in the chair. Honestly she amazes us!
9) It's been a while since we have had a toddler but, she really seems more mature than most other 2 year olds. I wonder if it is because there were no other children in her foster family...so she had just been around adults. One day she spilt a drink on the floor and she looked up to me & just cried and pointed and just got the saddest look on her face. I bet she got in trouble for accidentally doing things like that in her foster family because, she looked at me like she was in trouble. I just kissed her & said "it's ok, it's ok". There have also been other moments of rough housing with the boys that she looked at us & acted like she wanted to do it but, couldn't believe she wouldnt get in trouble for it. LOL!
10) She goes through phases of really disliking her car seat. We heard this would probably happen and it has.
Thoughts on our trip to China:
1) I wish I would have repared my teenage son that Charlotte might think of him as an adult & that she may not immediately like him as well as our little boys.
2) I SO wish we would have stayed on Shamain Island! The Garden Hotel was nice but, I thought we would get a suite and we just got a regular room & it was tiny & nothing special. After visiting the island, things are so calm there and I would have loved that. There are lots of things around the Garden but the traffic makes it more difficult to get anywhere with a stroller. We also saw lots of beggars & handicapped people begging for food & money around the Garden & it was very disturbing to me. I don't think I will ever get the picture of this one man out of my head. :( I think I would have felt safer on the island.
3) There is no way to adequately describe what a 14 hour flight is like. I thought for international flights you would have more room...NOPE! Your seats won't even recline more than 3 inches so it made it impossible to sleep. There were 3 to a row and I was the lucky middle person between Jason (by the window) & a chinese woman on the aisle. Everytime we needed to go to the bathroom or get out we all had to get up. IF we ever go to China againm and we hope to, I will definitely be looking at upgrades. I am not an extravagant person and usually am pretty thrifty, because I like to be...BUT, I will gladly pay more for better seats next time.
4) I am so thankful we went to Beijing for a couple of days beforehand. The jetlag was hard & I was exhausted & about to pass out every day at about 4 p.m. and certainy would not have been in any shape to handle a toddler.
5) We enjoyed taking the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. Why can't plane seats be this comfortable & roomy? Don't hesitate to take the train...we checked some of our luggage & it was easy to get a taxi when we got to Hong Kong.
6) I would love to have spent atleast 1 more day & night in Hong Kong. It was beautiful but we really didn't get to see much of it. It felt so much more westernized compared to China and that was nice on the way home.
7) Our guide had us scheduled to do the regular city zoo in Guangzhou not the Safari Park Zoo. We didn't realize this until that morning and even though the city zoo was nice, it was similar to any zoo we would see in the U.S. In hindsight, I wish I would have told him beforehand that we really prefer to see things unique to China. There are lots of more interesting things to see in Guangzhou. Our guide in Guangzhou (Jack Mao), we loved but he mainly concentrated on the paperwork, so this was the only excursion we did with him.
8) Be careful when taking a taxi to Shamain Island. A friend of mine, Kim & I, got in a taxi at the Garden & told the bellboy to tell our driver we wanted to go to Lucy's (a restaurant) on Shamain Island. Well 30 minutes later we were on an island...just not Shamain Island and with a taxi driver who was really frustrated with us. He stopped on the side of the road and pointed to this building and motioned for us to get out. We tried our best to let him know this was not the right place. He just got really frustrated with us & kept motioning for us to get out, so we did. We walked up to a convenience store & started asking people if they spoke English. Finally we found a young guy that said he did & we asked him if he would mind helping us get another taxi on the street. He said I will just take you in my car....we said NO THANK YOU! LOL! I was not about to come all this way & go missing in China! So he did help us get a taxi again & after 30 minutes we were at Shamain Island! woohoo! What a fiasco though. So in hindsight, I would just ask to go to The White Swan because I hear all drivers know where that is. :)
You can click on any of the pictures below to make them bigger.
Saying goodbye to China...
and everything she had ever known...what a brave girl!
She LOVES her doll stroller!
She LOVES bubbles too!
Kendra, Ben & Charlotte at the 1st grade Santa's Village field trip.