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 Norway...it 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, German...whomever...giving 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...