Thursday, February 25, 2016

She overcame a rough beginning of abandonment to start again SOPHIE UPDATE

Her life began as a 2 day old infant found at the orphanage gate. She was immediately taken into care and for ten months the orphanage was her home. She was one of the lucky ones chosen by Love Without Boundaries to be part of their foster program. Along with another little girl close to her age, a loving grandmother cared for the girls as if they were her own. As Sophie waited for her adoption paperwork to be prepared she grew from an infant to stubborn toddler full of determination and independent will.
When we met Sophie on Family Day she came in confident and full of smiles, calling us Mama and Baba, the Chinese word for Daddy. Very quickly her excitement turned to fear and she began crying.
Later in the evening, while at the hotel she still seemed fearful but began to smile and play. She was fearful of bath time, even throwing up the noodles from dinnertime but she broke out into a huge smile when I produced brand new pajamas from the suitcase.
While in province she behaved like a royal princess. She smiled and went willingly with us. She loved to shop and each day would be excited about new clothes.

Life as an orphan newborn. Her bottle was propped for feeding

Rooms at the orphanage. The door to each room led to the outside. I could only stand and look at the children in the rooms for a brief moment before emotion over took me.


The first three months home began an interesting adjustment. Coming home after the first two adoptions we battled mostly jet lag and settling into a routine with a baby. This time it was getting to know a feisty three year old girl who spoke little English. I am not sure how we got through the first few months. I will be transparent here and say attachment for me was much more difficult than the first two adoptions. Sophie bonded with me almost immediately after coming home however in my gut it has taken longer to get to a place where I feel like her mother and not just a caregiver or teacher. Perhaps it was her independent will or perhaps it was because she was older? I now have a new appreciation of how much harder older child adoption actually is. They bring their own will to the table!

There were many meltdowns daily

With the help of her siblings and love of her family she over came her fear of furry friends!

Ellie had some jealousy issues in the very beginning but for the most part loved having a new best friend and playmate. While learning English Sophie would mimic anything Ellie would say. It was like a maddening "Ellie echo". I knew how helpful this was for Sophie's language development but at times I wanted to climb the walls!
Slowly, little by little we learned what allowed Sophie to feel secure and what caused her to meltdown.  Along the way we made many mistakes. We began physical and occupational therapy with Sophie at a fantastic clinic thirty minutes away. Along with her therapists we educated ourselves on  how to bests help Sophie regulate her emotions and maximize her high intelligence.


Bath times started as a struggle but now she loves them!
The two of them are constant companions!

In October we celebrated her fourth birthday. I managed to blog a bit about the party and my obsession over making it special for her. I was thrilled when she became interested in Hello Kitty. She seemed to understand all my preparations were leading up to "her party." When party day came she was over the moon over the decorations. A very special reunion took place at her party.
Her foster sister had been adopted just an hour away and the family was able to attend. At first Sophie seemed confused but as the night wore on she took to her familiar role of bossing her "mei mei." The miracle of the two girls remaining close is a very special blessing indeed.

Six months home Sophie began attending Early Childhood Special Education four days a week, and occupational therapy one day a week. After just a few months Sophie "graduated" from physical therapy and we were very pleased with her progress. We plan to push very hard next year for her to be placed in a regular preschool classroom. Sophie is the princess of her class this year and while it is exciting for her to have structure going to school, we feel she will thrive by having more opportunities to share and follow directions in a bigger class.

Christmas was a very exciting time! Sophie was not afraid of Santa Claus one bit. We had a great time with family and friends.

Her personality is still developing as she grows in our family. She is stubborn and strong!

At the point, you are probably wondering why I haven't mentioned her vision. Sophie adapts so wonderfully to her surroundings using the vision she has we don't notice in her day to day life she is impaired. She has great depth perception and can navigate stairs and new environments like a champ!
Despite being legally blind, she can do just about anything a four year old can do. We are amazed by her progress everyday. It will be very important to me for Sophie to learn to read Braille. While she can use her vision well, she still has some nystagmus (eye movement) and needs print made extremely large. In order to reduce eye strain being proficient in Braille will be beneficial. We hope to start her with pre-Braille learning soon.

Watch out if she doesn't get her way! 
We've been a family of seven for eight months. We learn every day about Sophie's personality and what makes her anxious.  Her Chinese language has disappeared and she no longer speaks or understands it. I feel guilty our children do not speak their native language however I try to focus on what we can provide them by ways of their heritage.

As we head into the end of our first year together it has been a crazy, wild ride! I am looking forward to a "normal" summer, free from worry about adoption travels or planning. Sophie still has a lot to teach us!

No comments:

Post a Comment