It’s been 8 weeks since we came home with our precious daughter. For some reason, writing “8 weeks” minimizes the how we FEEL. It seems as though she has been with us forever. I know I have said that since Day 1, but it is true! It is something that can only be explained as a God-thing. HE made us for each other.
So, here is a glimpse into our house these days:
We still try to have all the kids stay in bed until at least 7am. If Mia wakes up in the middle of the night, I’ll take her potty and then put her back in her toddler bed. I have to stay in there with her until she falls asleep, but then I wander back to my own bed. If she wakes up between 6-7am, we usually take her potty and put her in our bed until the boys wake up. Sometimes she sleeps a little more, sometimes she just lays with us quietly, but the rest of us can at least have a little more down time.
She is down to only 1 “bottle” a day, which is in the morning. This is basically 3 scoops of toddler formula powder in a take n toss sippy cup. We heat the water and that is what she wants first thing, while the boys eat their cereal. She has settled in nicely with the quiet morning routine where the kids watch something on the ipad or go play in their rooms for a while. But, eventually the nice play time turns to chaos and fighting and by then, I try to get my workout in. Sometimes they join me, sometimes they don’t and just fight with each other, which makes me push that much harder in my workout. 😉 Mia loves to jump and dance and be RIGHT UNDER me wherever I am working out, so I try to include her as much as possible without stomping on her! She definitely gives me an extra challenge.
We have spent a lot of time with nerf guns, tiny legos that get lost or stuck on everyone’s feet, and hot wheels. While Mia has dolls and a cute dollhouse, she tends to follow whatever the boys do, good or bad. All of the kids love going outside and playing in our little pool. I use sunscreen on her beautiful brown skin, but she just gets darker and darker, with no burn. She still LOVES bubbles and swings and anything outside.
We weren’t sure if Mia would be okay in a carseat (since she never had to ride in one before coming to the USA), but she does just fine, and loves to buckle herself in. Our biggest problem is what we call the “storm before the calm.” This is where she screams out or spits or does something else that she knows she shouldn’t do, and tries our patience on end….until she falls asleep in the car. The boys tend to laugh at her antics, making it even harder to teach her that we need to be kind and not kick seats or scream or spit. *sigh* We’re trying. We’ll get there.
Karate is twice each week, so Mia has learned that is coloring time and we try to stay out of the way of the kids in class. For the most part, she does really well. She really likes when other kids are there to play, too.
Over the last couple of weeks, Mia’s food choices have broadened. She will now eat some cooked veggies, and tried and liked edamame this past weekend. She still prefers carbs and sweets, but what kid doesn’t? Raw veggies and hummus are the family fave and she loves her fruits for sure. Meats are hit or miss, but we are doing better than when we first got her. I would say definite progress! 🙂 We have given her apple juice on a rare occasion, but almost exclusively water. We still haven’t braved the regular milk thing again, but will probably start mixing it in her formula to wean her off that. She does fine with dairy and other milk products, but regular milk makes her sick, so we are being super careful of any drinks other than water. But, this girl, like her brothers, loves Shakeology! So, at least I know she is getting some vitamins and minerals in that way!
The hardest part for our family has been the transition the boys are going through. Mia feeds off of her brothers’ energy and attitudes, so when they throw tantrums (and they do), she thinks she should/can do the same things. So, basically it is chaos in our house many times throughout the day. Owen is a great big brother and super caring for his sister, but he will get tired of that role and start yelling at her or Camden out of nowhere. He can take that ‘parent’ role too far, and we have to remind him that while he has been given some extra responsibilities, he is not actually the parent. Camden has many issues with sharing toys or anything really. Since Mia tends to slap him, he will also be pushing her or grabbing toys out of her hands that she took from him. It is very exhausting. Some things we need to share, and other things they need to be able to have in their own possession. This control thing with the kids is difficult because their world has been turned upside down and completely OUT of their control. We try to be sympathetic, but honestly, I am very blunt and logical (which typically gets lost on them), and I just try to explain that if they want something, this is how you can get it, and being kind is always the answer. Thankfully, there are many hugs and kisses and compliments going around as well.
Discipline is hard with Mia because we need to practice “time-ins” where she sits next to us or at least in the same room. There is no “go to your room” talks with her. Sending her away is not going to help her, only hurt her and cause her to question abandonment. While she understands almost everything we are saying (and we are able to do less and less with charades), she STILL does not understand family dynamics like the boys do. We do not spank her or anything that would be perceived as harm. While we believe that she was very loved at her orphanage, we honestly have no idea what her past holds. And we never want her to think that Mommy and Daddy are going to hurt her. So, what do you do when your child is directly defiant? Well, that is what we are working on. It is a lot of trial and error and trying to show love and what is right and wrong, all at the same time.
Over the last two weeks, we have made great progress with attachment, to the point where we felt she was able to stay in church child care without me present with her! It was amazing! I actually was able to listen to a couple sermons LIVE this week! I had gone 10 weeks without being IN a church service, so I think God knew I needed it. I had no reservations about Mia being in Gregoryville kids church or Wednesday night, because we had been there enough that she knows some of the kids. The first place we ended up using childcare was at LifePoint Church on Father’s Day. Let’s just say, she did MUCH better than I did! I was a nervous wreck! If you know me, than you know that I have never had issues with leaving my kids in nursery…but this is different. What if she needed me? What if she looked for her “Mama” and I wasn’t there? Well, she did great and I worried for nothing! So, we had her go back to kids church at Gregoryville this week with her brothers and she happily waved ‘good-bye’ to Mom and Dad and skipped off to class. Another reason why I praise God! He has just blessed every single step!
Mia had two doctor appointments this week with specialists. The one says she only needs to go every six months, and the other says only once a year! For a kid labeled “special needs” I think she is pretty fantastic and pretty healthy! We give thanks and praise to God for how he has healed her in some ways and protected her in others. I know this is vague, but we are keeping this part private from our blog. Just know that if you have EVER considered adoption, PLEASE consider a child with “special needs.” The most beautiful children can come with an ugly label that doesn’t have to mean scary and unmanageable things. I am forever grateful that I was able to work with all kinds of kiddos with needs at Maria’s Big House of Hope in China and allowed God to open my heart to consider adoption in this way. I am thankful that God opened John’s heart, too. If not for that trip, I don’t know that we would have had our daughter.
Speaking of China, we had a special surprise over the weekend. John connected with one of the nannies when we went to visit Mia’s orphanage. In China, everyone uses an app called, “WeChat.” This is very much like Facebook Messenger, but since Facebook isn’t allowed in China, they use “WeChat” for everything. So, John and the nanny, Esther, exchanged WeChat information so that we could receive old pictures of Mia from her and she could get updates from us. She was especially fond of Mia because her daughter, Jolie, was good friends with her, so the two girls kind of grew up together. So, when John received a WeChat message from Esther I was pleasantly surprised! Of course, she wanted to know about Mia and we wanted to know about her past. She sent some moving pictures, which we couldn’t capture from the app, but there were a couple of still pictures we did receive, including this one…
Every little piece of Mia’s past is incredibly important to us. We want to be able to share with her as much as possible, if she wants to know. I am so glad that she had a nice little friend there, and that Esther cares enough for her to keep contact with us. She even sent Mia a little voice message in Chinese so Mia could hear it! Mia definitely understood what she said and seemed to recognize Esther’s voice. I know she is losing her Chinese language, but it was neat to have the technology for her to hear that. A couple of days later, Esther sent us this picture of Mia at 11 months old…
Isn’t she GORGEOUS? Oh, my heart! It was just the BEST thing to see this picture. To date, this is the youngest picture we have of her.
Oh, sweet girl, as you are currently sleeping on your floor (because you constantly fall out of your toddler bed), I am so grateful for YOU. I hate that it took 2.5 years for you to be in a forever family, but we are yours and you are ours. We love you with an everlasting love. I hope you always know that you are safe, you are treasured, and you are loved. We thank God that He hand-picked you to be Mia Luoshu Harvey. May you grow to know Him and love Him and trust Him all of your days.