When we got home to our hotel yesterday, ZhenAi went to the bathroom. I motioned for her to wash her hands and it was a 'no sir, not happening' response. I smiled and spoke very softly that we need to wash our hands after we use the bathroom. She smiled sweetly and shook her head 'no' and put her hand up as if to say "stop". :)
I washed my hands and handed her the soap. She let it fall to the ground and smiled. Not going to happen. I motioned for her to stay there...went and got a cookie and she just about salivated. I then smiled sweetly and motioned for her to wash her hands THEN she will get the cookie. She didn't even hesitate. She washed her hands and reached for the cookie.
Let's not comment on the parenting strategy of bribing with sugar. Wait...you've done this too! Didn't you offer m&m's to your child to sit on the potty? Ok. Perfect. We are even. :)
Each time we did something like this it was a small victory. She would open up to me more and more each time as if she was wanting me to actually win the small battle. No, there were no big battles but even one like this was 'big' to her and I. She can trust me not to freak out and to teach her. She came out of the bathroom smiling. The next time she went to the bathroom, I came in right away and pointed to the soap (no cookie) and she immediately rolled up her sleeves and washed her hands.
She, as I noted before, had 3 layers plus her puffy yellow winter coat zipped up to the neck. I would gently motion to remove her jacket and she let me know that was not happening.
Late evening, Dean ran out to get food. He brought her home chicken. She really wanted that chicken. I motioned to her coat and pointed to the chicken. She smiled and nodded yes! I was shocked. I asked if "mama could help?" and she nodded. I was shocked that she let me remove her coat. What happened next surprised us. She took the chicken (that she was willing to even remove her coat for) and put it in her backpack. I at least was able to help wrap it in a napkin. :)
She never did eat it. However every time I offered her french fries she would nod, I would ask her to say "please" and she said it every time. She ate them all.
It's now super late. The girls are asleep. She's sitting on the bed with her jeans, 3 layers of shirts and her shoes on. I motion to her shoes and show her I've removed mine and she said "no mama" :) No problem. I motioned that she could keep her beautiful shoes on. I pointed to the bed and the pillow and she said no and shook her head. But she sat on the bed.
I opened her backpack and drew her our stick family (just us 5). She laughed and laughed and pointed to each one naming us.
She thought that was very funny. I asked her to draw, she was eager to do so and proceeded to write "x" over and over again. She then pointed to each X and named them: "mama, baba, etc". I clapped and told her how beautiful it was.
She asked me to draw again (no words, I just get the picture). I did. She then took a piece of paper and drew a bunch of circles with one line beneath them. She was so proud. I couldn't believe it! She went from X's to circle with one leg in a matter of minutes with me showing her how!
Later she knelt by the bed and drew curly hair on a few of them. I motioned to my eyes and she smiled and proceeded to draw eyes. We were totally amazed. I pointed to my smile and she drew smiles. Then it was she who pointed to her ears and then drew ears!
She was so proud of this picture and I will forever cherish it.
She sat on the floor after Dean was asleep and unpacked her entire back pack for the first time. She looked at everything over and over and then would zip it up, un zip and repeat.
I kept coming over and rubbing her back and she allowed me to do that.
Finally I got in bed with the light on. I changed but she stuffed her new pajamas into her backpack and let me know they were staying there. I smiled to tell her that was ok.
I was on my phone going through photos laying in bed and she laid down beside me. Her hair was touching my face and she watched every photo. I would glance over at her only to see her softly smile. More genuine than earlier in the day which seemed nervous and perhaps posed. A few times I reached over and stroked her face and her deep dark eyes locked with mine. If I could read them I would interpret them to be saying "are you for real? Are you sure?" I wouldn't blink until I smiled and she always smiled in return. Eventually I remember Dean getting up to turn the dim light off. She was sleeping, covered, in bed beside me. Fully clothed and shoed :)
When I woke this morning, I remember thinking 'she drank so much last night and seems to need to go to the bathroom often..." and then I could feel this warmth come across the bed. I moved quickly and whispered to Dean who had just woken up that she had just wet the bed. We both had the same response of "oh shoot!" because we feared she would shut down more and would not change her wet clothes. Finally I saw she was awake and pretending to be asleep. I came over to her side of the bed and motioned for her to follow me to the bathroom. She was talking the whole time, clearly distressed and pointing to her wet pants. I kept smiling telling her it was ok and that "mama help". She nervously, hesitantly smiling never moving her eyes from me.
We got the bathroom and I asked if I could remove her wet pants. Almost panicky she nodded. I ran out, closed the door and dumped the suitcase looking for clothes. I picked a beautiful dress Tirzah wore to the Daddy dance last year. ZhenAi lit up when she saw it and nodded repeatedly. I came back out looking for underwear.
Finding everything I needed I came back in. She would not go for the shower or bath but let me take a warm wet cloth and wash her legs. She was staring at me so deeply the entire time and I kept telling her it was ok. She has very little use of her right hand due to Cerebral Palsy. She struggles getting dress and using the bathroom. My heart broke when I saw what she was wearing. Oversized adult underwear that she seemed totally aware of. When I showed her something her size, that was pretty and fit her just right...she smiled from ear to ear. I may have been teared up at that moment. Honestly I was sweating and my heart was pounding because I was so afraid that at any moment she was going to freak out realizing the vulnerability of this moment and kick me out of the bathroom. She didn't.
This was a breakthrough moment. In her weakest state...she was loved. She wasn't shamed, embarrassed...instead made to feel beautiful.
Oh the picture of God's love for us is so overly obvious. At our weakest moment...he stepped in and offered us new life. And made us sons and daughters of God.
What a humbling experience. She looked at herself in the mirror with total glee. She was holding back from twirling in that dress. I showed her the cute little white jean jacket that Tirzah wore with the dress and she nodded. I knew bare legs would never fly in China and I pulled out the black leggings I had bought the week before we came. They were size 12 and fit her just right but a country mile too short. She is very tall! She didn't seem to mind and neither did I :) She put her pretty little sneakers on and was good to go. She showed me her necklace I had delivered to her just Thursday. If only she knew what it says. "Forever Daughter".
We were ready to step out the door for breakfast. She laughed the whole way down the hallway as the little girls ran and I played hide and seek with them. She looks at them as a big sister would...loving seeing them giggle and play.
We went down for breakfast and she showed me exactly what she wanted. She ate it all. Congee filled with every option available and watermelon on the side. I showed her the toast on my plate and she motioned for it. I gave it to her but she didn't touch it. Dean got a pastry and she pointed to it. She put it on her plate and also left it alone. As we were leaving she started to stuff them in her backpack so I helped wrap them in a napkin.
We met our guide and went in the bus back to the civil affairs building that we met her in yesterday. She seemed overjoyed to get off the bus and go into the building and we were definitely wondering if she thought she was going back to the orphanage and back to her foster family.
She didn't even look at the orphanage director once inside. She had turned a beautiful corner and knew she was home and I could see it.
The director came over and talked to ZhenAi. She looked at me beaming and said "I just asked her who you are and she smiled and excitedly said 'MAMA!!' "
What a difference from yesterday in the same exact seats!
And that was it. When it was time to say goodbye, she did. Without hesitation.
When we left the building we saw how cute Izrael and ZhenAi looked with their matching stripes. :)
When we got back to the hotel room we started to see nervousness kick in. She marched in the room giggling loudly and almost pushing the little kids out of the way. Once in she busted for the table and grabbed the pen and paper(yes, grabbed) and clutched it to her chest. I came and sat beside her. I put my arm around her and so softly said "ZhenAi Pei Qin...please give that to Mama" She said no over and over and was near tears. This wasn't about the paper and the pen. This was about her knowing she was ok. She finally gave it to me and that was a surrender. She then clutched her coat that she was wearing. It was hot, we are here to let the little kids nap for a bit. I asked if I could help her take her coat off and got a very loud "NO MAMA". I went and got a Kinder Egg and she lit up. I pointed to her coat. It took a few times but she whipped it off and set it on the bed. I immediately folded it nicely and put it in her backpack showing her she can trust me and that I know it's special to her. She really struggled to eat the Kinder Egg (it's all mushed together and you eat it with a spoon...different than the eggs in Canada). Her affected hand was squishing it everywhere. I sat down in front of her, feeling her intense eyes piercing right through me and started stroking her hand. I could feel her relax. I formed her hand around the egg so she could hold it and spoon it with the left hand. She did and yes, even smiled at me. Finally she gave up and set it on the table, it was too much work.
I sat in front of her and asked (with my actions) if Mama could help her. She nodded hesitantly. I spoon fed her the rest of it and she smiled the whole way through.
Now we are in the hotel as Dean and the little girls are sleeping. She's drawing pictures in her notepad as quiet as a mouse. I asked her if she's ok and she smiled and told me "shhhhh!!!" :)
I'm a realist. Not an optimist in any area of my life, not sure if I ever have been. I was prepared for the extreme in adopting an older child. This is the best case scenario of everything I was prepared for. She is letting me in. She knows who we are (not sure she understands all that it means and what lies ahead for her) but she's ready to say "This is my mama and baba".
As they finish their nap, I went and got 4 nail polishes I had brought with me ( for this purpose). She picked out the blue one immediately. I called her over to the other side of the bed. She laid her left hand on my leg and let me paint each nail.
It was her right hand that she was unsure about. Her affected hand. I was starting to think it wasn't going to happen. She clutched it to her chest all curled up. I knelt in front of her softly speaking to her. I kept saying "it's ok. It's ok ZhenAi Pei Qin". She stared so intensely it's almost de-nerving. I started to gently massage her hand. She would not break the stare. Finally I was able to straighten it out enough to paint the nails. We did her thumb nail 4 times b/c her hand would curl so fast and smudge it. She was clearly distressed about it. But every time I told her "it's ok" and repainted it she seemed in total awe and wonder.
These are the moments of victory. Small victories that you celebrate. Someone so scared, so afraid of all that is happening...let's you in.
Thank you for following our journey. Thank you for caring.