The Messina Family

The Messina Family
Barcelona 2010

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lily's 3rd Adoption Day

Lily and her cake for her special night...Buckeye cake...very yummy! You may notice the smears of the hot fudge icing on the cutting board that the cake is on. I got after Joe for that....but look carefully at Lily's shirt.... :o)

Lily has been ours for three years now....Sometimes it seems like just yesterday we were in front of the civil affairs man, nervously answering questions for the umpteenth time about ourselves, our family, and our intent to be good parents to this little orphaned girl. Other times it seems like she has been with us since birth...that she fits so well into our family that it's like she has always been with us.
I have too many fellow adopters that follow this blog to honestly leave it at that. I would be remiss to not mention that there have been ups and downs. More ups than downs...but some of those downs have been hard. People see Lily with us and think that adopting a child is so easy. So many of you out there know that just isn't the case. There were those first few days in China...where I was the bane of her existence...she simply hated me. She wanted nothing to do with that evil woman that now was telling her in Chinese that she was her mama. She would scream in protest and cry if I would hold Rich's hand or even touch him....I was the enemy and she had decided she would trust and love him. No matter how much reading and talking you do with those that have gone before you...nothing can shelter your heart from that kind of absolute rejection. On the other hand, that first unsolicitated hug and kiss...that is coming only from her desire to do so...that is the sweetest thing...more so than your biological children, because you know that she's had to overcome so much loss and heartache in her own little mind to get to that point.
Lily has been with us for three years now. I live in is common for people to shuttle their children to daycares by age 1...where they then will progress into school. I cannot tell you how many people have given me a hard time about keeping Lily home with me this long. People from various backgrounds...American, Canadian, Norwegian, their two cents worth. I felt she needed to be home with me...bonding with me. This was a very calculated and heartfelt decision I made before we even met her. She deserved some special time at home with me, just as the boys had when they were her age.
We left Lily for the first time to go on our cruise in July. She stayed in her home, with her brothers and my mom. She did fine while we were gone...but never asked about us. We were gone 10 days. Red flag. Then when we did return, she smiled and was obviously happy, but refused to talk to us...or to anyone. This had been a bit of a "game" that she played for a couple of hours at a time prior to us leaving. This time it lasted 28 days. She didn't say one word. We went to the U.S. to visit our relatives. Not a peep. When she finally started talking, a couple of days after we got back to Norway, I asked her why she stopped talking. She simply said, "Because you left me."
Do I know what happened to her for the first 20 months of her life in China? No. Do I think she still has some abandonment issues? Heck, yeah. She started school and is loving it. She didn't speak for the first 7 days in the classroom. However, now I understand she has found her spot in the class and is talking up a storm. She still doesn't enjoy big crowds or loud places. Why? I can guess but don't know for certain.
So I say all of these things because I want full disclosure...those of you that have adopted children, you'll be nodding your head throughout a lot of this...those of you wanting to adopt, you'll hopefully understand that there is absolutely nothing cut and dry about taking a child into your home and calling her/him yours. Would I do it again? You bet I would. Do I love her as if I gave birth to her? Of course...maybe even more...if that is possible. It's very hard to explain.
I look back on the last three years and I see how much she has grown...and how much she still has to go to understand that we will always be here for her...forever.
I love this video of her explaining why we celebrate today with her...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Very Special Day....

Three years ago, I met this tiny little 20 month old girl...who was frightened out of her wits. That little girl would come back to the hotel with us and spend the night with us at the Gloria Hotel in Nanchang, Jiangxi, PRC. The next morning, we had an appointment at the civil affairs office and after answering a few questions, we officially became her family...and she became our daughter and sister. Her name was changed from Ling Guang Su (surname, middle name, first name - as stated in Chinese) to Lily Su Grace Messina. We are so lucky to have her! These pictures were taken today at our church, St. Svithun's and then at our house. We plan to have a cake and celebrate her adoption day tomorrow!

Picking Blackberries

Rich and Lily picking blackberries to have for dessert after dinner. This is something we will miss when we leave Norway...

Lily rides her bike

The Tooth Fairy Pays a Visit

Lily has some remnants of her time in China. We got her as a toddler and her teeth had never been brushed...along with her nutrient level also being less than iffy...She has had one molar filled this year and this one had to be pulled. It was a horrific experience...Norwegian dentistry is very different than what we are used to...especially for children. However, she lived to tell about it...and so did I. (although there were questions about that at the time.) We had never even talked about the tooth fairy with her...but she made an appearance while Lily was sleeping and left her a small toy...since kroner for a 4 year old didn't quite make sense. Hopefully the tooth fairy won't be visiting again until she is ready to lose some teeth on her own in a few years!

1st Day of School for Lily

Lily started school on Aug 18th. She went half days for the first week and is now going full time. She has a British teacher, Miss Emma,(who is a cross between Pippy Longstocking and Mary Poppins) and an assistant teacher, Miss Uly, who is Norwegian. She has 14 kids in her class and seems to really be enjoying herself! (whew!) There were a few tears on the first day...(but Daddy came along and kept picking her up and hugging her....- as I was outside the classroom in the hall violently motioning for him to cut the cord and join me). Evidently she did not speak until her 7th day of class, but hey, she is talking now and they are so excited to hear what she has to say! The kids in her class are from all over the world. It is definitely an international class. She goes to school at the same school as the boys, so I drive them there and back each day. Her class is the giraffe class...hence the pictures of her in a giraffe mask (that she wore for 7 hours the first day!) She loves her Kai-Lan back pack and lunch box we picked up in the U.S.! She keeps telling me what a big girl she is now!

Ending with a bang....

Lily is making "sand angels"

Tim holding "The Reginator"

The Messina clan takes a rest on some benches while waiting for Tammie and Glenn to meet up with us

The night before we left, we drove up to the beach to see the fireworks (every Wednesday night during the summer). Lily hadn't really seen fireworks of this magnitude before. We obviously don't have 4th of July fireworks displays here in Norway...the only fireworks displays are on New Year's Eve at midnight...and she is already asleep by then. She thought they were loud, but enjoyed them! The whole family turned out to go...we had Joe & Ella, along with Brittany; Tammie & Glenn along with Dante (Casey had left for FL to visit his dad by then), Rich's parents and our family.

Uncle Richard's camp

We took one afternoon to go to see Rich's uncle and Godfather, oddly named Richard Messina. :o) He and his wife, Catherine, have a beautiful trailer that they live in during the summertime in a secluded, forested area. It really was beautiful. We brought Dante with us. The boys went fishing but had no luck in catching anything. We had a wonderful BBQ with them and had a great time just catching up. Lily and Dante went swimming at a little swimming hole not far from their site. It was a really wonderful afternoon.

Time with family...

Our family with Rich's cousin's family...the Desmet's, who live in Florida

Cyndi with Nano Joe's sister, great Auntie Ann Calderone

Can you tell they are related? They all have the same haircut.... Rich and Joe Messina with their cousin, John Desmet

Lily following Ollie the cat around Nana's yard. I have pictures of the boys floowing Ollie around 10 years ago. They figure that cat is at least 17 but maybe older...

Glenn and Tammie - Hudson, NH

Cousins, Casey, Joe and Tim

The Messina side cousins (minus Brittany)

Lily and her cousin, Dante

Sunday dinner

Lily and her flowers in Nana Mary's house with her Daddy

Auntie Cathy comes over to smell the flowers that she gave Lily.

Joe really took a liking to Reggie, his Auntie Tammie's new puppy

Lily with some flowers from Auntie Cathy's flower garden

Cousin Dina Desmet, me, and my sister-in-law, Ella Messina, watching our kids in the pool...

Lily enjoying the cool water...

Lily in Nana Mary's pool (actually it is Auntie Cathy and Uncle Mike's now, as they care for it)

Splashing around on a hot Sunday afternoon

Look what my Joe caught in the bushes...

Yep, a snake. Imagine that!

Cousin Shawn Coventry, brother-in-law Joe Messina, Uncle John Desmet,and hubby, Rich Messina, pull out the bocce balls...

The boys get into the bocce tournament going on in Nano Joe's yard...

Lily and her great grandfather, Nano Joe Messina

Lily and her great-grandmother, Nana Mary Messina
Every Sunday afternoon, the Messina clan gathers at Nana Mary and Nano Joe's house for Sunday dinner. This has been going on for...let's see...decades. Nana Mary will be 94 next month and Nano Joe is 95. Every Sunday there are 4 generations of Messinas together. This is a great time for us to catch up with Rich's cousins and their families and his aunts and uncles.

WWE comes to New England....

We told the boys that if they were really really good when their Grandma Neitzke was watching them in Norway for 10 days, that we would make it worth their while. The boys love watching WWE...especially Tim. We told them it was a surprise...They thought the water skiing on the lake was the surprise. We told them we were taking them to see the new Harry Potter movie...Tim did not want to go. He was so mad that we made him come with us. I had to be nasty and pull out the mom card and force him to go. He didn't realize what was going on until we were in the line to get into the arena. His face turned all red and he kept thanking us.
As for the wasn't what we were expecting. It wasn't televised, so it wasn't the big production we were thinking it would be. However, the boys did get to see some people that they normally watch on TV. No, they don't think it is real...but they do like the athleticism that is involved. :o) Rich and I had a better time observing the crowd. :o)