Lily has just blossomed into an entirely different child over the last several months. I really don't even think that is a powerful enough statement for what we have witnessed!
When I think back to that first afternoon with her back in our hotel suite I want to cry sometimes. It was impossibly scary (for all of us), completely overwhelming and just so full of emotions I am not even sure have a name. I think we were all racked with grief and mourning all of the loss that came with such a beautiful gift as adoption. Especially in the case of children adopted from a country like China who won't have the opportunity to ever meet their birth parents or even know the answer to any questions of "why" that they will ever have.
It was scary as we realized just how much more severe her physical limitations were than we had known and wondering what that would look like for her in the future. And just seeing such a precious and beautiful child who is alive but just doesn't have any life in their eyes was devastating. We could see the loss and extreme sadness in her face and it was absolutely heartbreaking. I know all this may sound grim and like such a negative view, but I want to be real. We were so thankful to have her in our arms but terrified at the same time.
Here we are 7 months and 21 days later and to see a picture of her then to a picture of her now I'll bet you wouldn't be able to tell they were the same child! We are her family and she knows it. She is full of life and joy and health.
I heard a quote just this morning while listening to one of my health and wellness pod casts that said, "Your brain can only do one of two things but not both at the same time. It either is protecting you or it is growing you." Wow.....The proof of that statement in my daughter Lily's life is unmistakable! For the first two and a half years of her life she had to protect herself. It was the only thing her brain could and would concentrate on. When we met her we couldn't believe that a child of her age couldn't walk, crawl or even stand on her own. She truly had just been surviving. That has now clearly turned into thriving over these last several months. Once she knew she didn't need to protect herself anymore she began to make leaps and bounds in growing and mastering new skills. The love and protection that her family offers her has been enough to overcome so many of her difficulties. It has been nothing short of a miracle to witness.
All ready for school and the picture of health and happiness (look at those rosy cheeks!)!
Just last week she started pre-school here in our school district (we now have 5 kids in 5 different school buildings - ahhhh!) and she has been blooming right before our eyes. Last Tuesday was her first day and she cried and sobbed for me not to leave her - that was very tough. But the teacher stayed in contact via text and let me know that she was doing great throughout the morning. On the 2nd day it was the same thing. On her last day of the week last week, Thursday, I stayed for the first 20 minutes to see how she did and I was completely blown away. I literally saw a side of Lily that I had never seen before. As the kids sat in circle time and sang the "good morning" song she watched unmoving and emotionless. Each child has a name card that is drawn from a basket and their name gets inserted into the song at which time they get up, grab their name card and place it on the appropriate place on the board. I watched as each child did this and then they got to Lily. I thought she would just sit there as they passed over her name, but she immediately (although still without any expression) got up walked over took her name card and attempted to place it int he correct spot on the board before backing up and plopping back down in her seat. It was AMAZING!!! After only 3 days in this classroom she was participating pretty much as well as any of the other children. I was a proud momma - and I cried. I am such a sap sometimes!!! ;)
Since that morning I have been getting regular updates from her teacher letting me know how great she is doing and how she keeps progressing each day (she goes Monday-Thursday 9:15-noon). Here her latest note from today:
"WOW! Lily just had the BEST day! Ms. Angela's class came to see Julie, the Naturalist from Sharon Woods. One of the little boys in her class is the sweetest thing ever and he just took Lily under his wing and was so precious with her! He sat next to her while we saw a turtle and a toad and then played with her at the Sensory Table for a long time and then Lily followed him into centers and they played some more! She SMILED at him and at all of us today!! And the sun came out at the same time and we were just thrilled.
She smiled at me from the window at the bus. She also said "more" and signed more at snack for goldfish crackers!
First day of school
In addition to the new adventure of going to school, while I do drive her in every morning, she comes home on the bus. The first week was a little rough. She managed it, but was clearly upset about it, but we stuck it out. I just returned from getting her off the bus today and I can tell you she was smiling ear to ear. As the bus pulls up I see her sweet little face looking through the window of the front seat and my heart nearly explodes with happiness and gratitude for the gift of being able to witness the blossoming of my little Lily!
I have seen such a transformation in her just in the last week. I know my girl pretty well by now and I am certain that she has grown in confidence. I was so nervous to let her start school, but I now think that sometimes I need to learn to just get out of the way and let things progress the way they will. Most of the time I am trying to protect her from things that scare her or might make her uncomfortable. While there is very good reason for that I am now learning that perhaps allowing her to feel those things but realize that she is now in the safety and security of people that love her is what is ultimately allowing her to get over them and heal. With her increased confidence this week she has begun to say more words, walk with more speed and balance (this is a BIG deal for her), begin to explore new ways of play and be a little more outspoken about what she wants and doesn't want (yep, she is becoming a full fledged 3 year old! ;).
We also celebrated Lily's 3rd birthday at the beginning of this month. It was amazing to see how excited she was and how she clearly understood we were celebrating her. It was touching to see the joy and love bursting from her even as we sang her "Happy Birthday". This girl is crazy about her family and all the fun that it brings! ;)
Happy 3rd Birthday!
We also did her 6 month check up at the beginning of April with the group that first saw her when she arrived home here back in September. They were all very impressed with the amount of progress she had made and with how healthy she looked. The same phrase was repeated by every doctor and specialist that saw her, "she looks & acts like a different kid". Lily is still struggling with a few areas including potentially her hearing and neurology, but their isn't anything alarming or scary. It was mentioned that we may want to explore some genetic testing in the next few months and we will continue with audiology to rule out any issues with her hearing, but for now we are taking one day at a time. I think that she is going to continue to amaze not only us but the doctors and specialists in her life. Lily isn't just a survivor; she is a fighter! Her name may imply "delicate & fragile" but she couldn't be further from that. She is strong, tough and smart. And if I have learned anything from her already over the last 7 months it's that wonders never cease and I know God has some big plans for this little girl and I think she intends to fulfill them!
And just because often seeing is believing, here is a line up of one pic from each of the last 7 months. Amazing the transformation!!
Lily on the plane ride home from China - Sept 11, 2014
Lily home 1 month
Lily home 2 months
Lily home 3 months
Lily home 4 months
Lily home 5 months
Lily home 6 months
Lily home 7 months!
Thank you all for continuing to follow along this journey with us and God bless!
Jessy & the Tye Family