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hamburger, steak and fillet mignon

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A month ago today I carried our little girl off a United Airlines airplane and collapsed into the arms of my family.

I can't believe it's been a month already.
Where did the time go?
Truth be told, the Maddie's adjustment hasn't been that bad.
I credit a lot of it to her personality. She's VERY easy going.
She wakes up with a smile and most nights goes to bed with one. (And she's back to using her toddler bed, although she still won't hear of using a blanket.) I think our experiences as international adoptive parents has also helped. (Although I should probably knock on some wood here).
We've experienced the ups and downs before - and we were prepared for the worst.
Thankfully we've experienced the best!
On our way back to Ukraine in January to adopt Maddie, we talked a lot on the plane about all of the issues we thought she had. (It's amazing how it didn't matter at the time.)
We were absolutely convinced Maddie had ADD. The girl didn't sit still at all during our 30 minute meeting in December. We were convinced she had attention deficit problems with a probability of hyperactivity mixed in.
A month after bringing her home we now know Maddie is no where near ADD. She has a great attention to detail and can work one project for any length of time needed. She doesn't flutter from one activity to another, in fact there are times I wish she would let go of an idea (she's like a bulldog! A kind, gentle bulldog, but a bulldog non-the-less)
We also realized on the way back to Ukraine we hadn't paid any attention to whether she displayed any symptoms of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). That had us worried. Our older three children don't have it, which had made us complacent. We had let our guard down.
Again, I am thrilled to say (so far) there are no indications of any FAS or FAE issues.
Our biggest concern was with attachment.
Our only experience in international adoption was with young children...under the age of two. Anya was 21 months at the time of adoption, Alex was 14 months and Nick turned one the day after court.
Coming home with an almost four year old was something we knew NOTHING about.
Thankfully, Maddie has been pretty easy on us so far.
The bonds of attachment are starting to show. She cries when she goes to the babysitter and is thrilled to see us when we pick her up.
She comes to us for comfort on even the smallest of owies and isn't afraid to maintain eye contact.
She loves to be held close and rocked. She is a little cuddlebug.
But there are still areas of concern.
She will still go with anyone at any time.
Not good.
And indiscriminate affection is just below the surface. At first she wanted everyone to hold her and she would grab their faces.
Now she just reaches out to touch everyone, so it's getting better.
Our friends and family have been so understanding of all of our precautions. Everyone at church have been AMAZING. Their hearts have been touched by Maddie and they're willing to give Maddie the space she needs to bond.
They're also more about orphans and international projects than at any time we have been involved with the church.
Their eyes are opened and that makes me feel so good.
They have always loved and accepted our children as they would any other child in the church.
And Maddie is no exception.
It's wonderful to see how they've opened their arms (figuratively, of course) to welcome Maddie into the church family.
The only other issue we have is that I'm
not Maddie's only Mama.
She calls Anya, the babysitter and just about any woman who has authority over her, Mama.
So while I'm not necessarily chopped liver anymore, I don't think I've made it much further than the 'hamburger' level.
I certainly am not a T-bone.
And I'm sure it will be quite awhile before I'm Fillet Mignon!

10 salty messages:

Mike & Tara March 3, 2008 at 7:39 PM  

It's taken us two months to have Nicholas stop calling other women Momma and other men Poppa. But at his orphanage every woman was called Momma and every man Poppa. So we have had him start calling us Mom and Dad - so he's using new names just for us. I'm not sure if that has helped it but it wasn't long afterwards that he stopped calling others those special names.

You are always filet mignon!

Kathy & Matt March 3, 2008 at 8:35 PM  

I'm so happy to read your post of how well Maddie is doing. And I laughed when I got to the part about everyone being called "Momma." We are clearly working on that too. Leeza seems to be getting it...she knows to call our nanny, Melissa, but she'll slip every now and then. Guess we haven't had her out and about enough yet either. At least now I know it's not just me. LOL!!!

Thanks for all your emails and posts. It was great to have your support and info!

jessy March 3, 2008 at 9:16 PM  

WOW!! I hadn't realized it had been a whole month. I'm glad things are going so well with Maddie!! Now, I'm going to say something really stinky. But it is from LOVE.
Why not go ahead and read up on the FAS and FAE? You are still in the honeymoon period. I caution this, because I was about to PULL MY HAIR OUT reading up on attachment disorder, sensory intergration issues, post-traumatic stress, etc. While she had aspects of various problems, nothing really fit Marina exactly. Until I read about FAS/FAE. It's not as bad as I thought, and Marina is already busting so many of the fears I had (knows her letters and sounds, recognizes patterns, etc.) She's one smart cookie, too! ;0) Forewarned is forearmed.

Ashley March 3, 2008 at 10:20 PM  

I am having a hard time believing that it has been a month, too! Wow, time sure flies! It seems like yesterday I was taking your train ride with you looking at all the trees out the window. I am happy Maddie is doing so well. I am sure she knows you are her mama, but she is just calling other women and girls mama. She loves you and knows you are the one who cares for her. In time, she will get it that all women are not "Mama." Yes, you are filet mignon!

Mark and Courtney March 4, 2008 at 8:00 AM  

We requested that people who have authority over the boys (Sunday school and now school teachers) correct the boys the same way we have. When the boys call someone "Mama", we say "no, not mama, nee mama, that's ___" and give the boys a name to call that person. I think it has really helped Dima and a big part of using mama and papa is that they simply don't have any other vocabulary to call other adults. They only know mama and papa as names to call adults, so we've been trying to give them other names for people and encouraging others to do that as well if they are addressed as Mama (Papa doesn't seem to come up as often).

adoptedthree March 4, 2008 at 8:33 AM  

Oksana called the babysitter mama too for a while. She will get it.
Give her a few months.

FAE is not fun, but it is hard to diagnose at a young age, as you know. The long term effects are the worst. I deal with what we think is FAE daily. Never could tell that was what it probably was until later in life. It is not fun.

Troy and Rachel March 4, 2008 at 12:53 PM  

I would say you are well on your way to being a filet mignon!! I love that Maddies can read lips - she is one smart cookie!!! And it's been a month already? No way!! Glad you are doing well and everyone is no longer sick!

Lindy March 4, 2008 at 1:11 PM  

Maybe Maddie liked to touch faces because of her hearing loss. Maybe it helped her communicate in some way. Just a thought. I'm so glad she's doing well, and that many of your fears have proved groundless!

teresa March 4, 2008 at 2:12 PM  

We love you too and are so thrilled that Maddie is here, for a whole month now, and is doing so well. It's wonderful to see signs of attachment. I agree that it is good to stay aware of the FAE side of things, because symptoms are sometimes manifested so differently in different kids. Now that our first adopted kids are teenagers, we find the learning issues that were seemingly minimal are still there, and they are more evident in doing higher level thinking, like Algebra and inferences. They aren't impossible or unable to be dealt with, they are just there, and now we know why. I also would look again at the checklist for physical manifestations of FAS/FAE. Is her nose very flat with no bridge? Does she have the pronounced dip in her upper lip like she should? Do her eyes look like the Precious Moments kids eyes? We have some of these indicators in Bug, but her intellegence and coping ability have made her academics successful so far. It just helps to be aware of what you might have to deal with in the future. The other things like sensory integration, attachment, or others, may still be there too, but in varying degrees and with varying effects. You've dealt with it before, the waiting and watching. You love her and know what to look for. Trust yourselves and just keep being aware.
You are filet mignon!

Christine March 6, 2008 at 12:18 PM  

I'm so glad to hear that Maddie doesn't appear to have any major issues. You guys are such terrific parents that I have no doubt the attachement thing will come 100% in just a matter of time!

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