Looking In from the Outside: A Guest Post

This post was lovingly written by my sister, Erin Harvey:

Nate, the boys, and I typically try to visit our siblings (yes, Rachel and I married brothers for those of you wondering) a few times a year. This past week was a busy and exciting time for us, as we were planning a trip to North Carolina for a few days. We had the initial idea of possibly stopping in to see John and Rachel but also knew and respected the fact they haven’t been home a full week yet. So, we called and simply checked in to see how Miss Mia was adjusting. The first few days obviously were going to be rough for them with new surroundings for Mia, new siblings, jet lag, etc., so I initially began to change our plans and only packed enough clothes for our short little trip to Charlotte. However, after confirming that they were OK with the idea of us coming to see them, we arrived Friday evening and plan to stay until after church Mother’s Day.

I cannot explain to you how surreal it is to actually meet Mia. She is absolutely gorgeous, and I am not just bragging because she’s my niece!  She has big eyes and such a beautiful smile, and her laugh is so very contagious.   But she is shy and reserved when you first meet her.

Before we arrived at John and Rachel’s, we talked to the boys several times about meeting Mia and how important it was to be quiet and calm around her, because even though she saw us on video chat, I knew she wouldn’t remember us. That little beautiful girl has had so much excitement and change that I would never expect her to remember me! And, I am OK with that. And, I’m family.

Mia was very quiet around us when we first arrived last night…calm, but also interested. She tried showing us some of her toys from her bedroom from her dollhouse and then after about 20 minutes was OK with me coming to see her room. Absolutely NO leading me by the hand or hugging me was involved at this stage, nor did I expect this.

She started to warm up to us as a family when we all got on the floor and played with her dollhouse. We told her our names and she tried to repeat them occasionally, but after awhile it was time for her to go to bed, along with my nephews. Still, NO hugs, but at this point, we got high 5’s.

This morning Mia colored and drew flowers with Uncle Nate and then wanted me to help color on paper with her.

This was a lot of fun to play and interact with her, but I noticed Rachel had gone off to the living room. You see, throughout today, Mia has become somewhat confused with the situation that already changed her parents’ routine they were establish for her this week. She began to call me, “Mama” and I immediately corrected her with, “I’m Aunt Erin”, and pointed to myself and then, “there’s Mama.” She seemed OK for the moment, but this happened frequently. Nothing could have prepared Rachel and myself for the awkwardness that occurred when these moments happened. We talked, trying to make sure we were both communicating with one another the best and most respectful way to handle this situation.

I love my niece, Mia. She is beautiful and funny and smart and just a joy to be around, and she DOES give great hugs! Although John and Rachel are getting used to Mia and Mia to them, she is unlike a newborn baby is so many ways.   She is a young child, who prior to April, was used to a different culture, a different language, and different EVERYTHING. I know there are many who simply have read about Rachel and John’s journey and now feel they are a part of Mia’s life. And there are many family and closer friends, too. But, please don’t make physical contact with Mia before asking her parents. High fives are waves are fine for now. Adoption takes time. Bonding takes time. Please allow and respect if Rachel and John are not up for visitors or don’t want Mia to have hugs given by everyone at this time. Was it too early for us to come? Maybe. I’m not sure. All I know for sure is that this child needs time to bond and her routine and her Mama and Baba around her. If Rachel doesn’t have time to call me for another three weeks, I’ll understand, because that time will be there for us in the future.

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