Thinking back to May 31st
Recent topics online have had me thinking back to the day we first held Faith in our arms. I have talked extensively about it with friends, and I am so very thankful that have lived through (with friends), talked extensively with friends, and read about how children can appear when you first meet them. I am also incredibly thankful that I was able to get a video of Faith…playing…walking…running. Those things saved me a lot of panic.
This is what we knew about Faith prior to us getting her:
Faith has a heart defect, supposedly a minor one, but there were “red flags” in the paperwork that indicated it could be MUCH more severe and she might need open heart surgery.
Faith was reported to be a “tiny girl” and that it was likely due to her heart condition. Our guide told us this MULTIPLE times. As I had updated measurements that had her around 21 pounds, I was somewhat prepared as I had parented Princess who was also a “tiny girl” but Princess was proportionate.
Faith had episodes of reported cyanosis and shortness of breath. They were “unexplained” and we had NO idea what had caused them.
Faith’s referral info indicated that at one point she was VERY weak, but she was NOW supposed to be doing great. (we had that video so we knew she could walk and looked active…okay).
While we waited for our daughter to be brought to the Civil Affairs office, we saw a few families be formed that were getting 2-3 year old daughters. Those girls walked into the room, stopped, started backing up, and started SCREAMING. That is what I was anticipating. The little babies that were brought in? They were all sitting upright in their caregiver’s arms.
Here is my first glimpse of Faith:
Laying down quietly in the arms of the nanny? My guide told me, and repeated often in a way that indicated he wanted me to know for a fact this was not normal actions for her, that she was sleepy.
Imagine for a minute if the guide had not known this little girl. Imagine if I had not seen that video of her walking. This 2.5 year old girl…was laying down, quietly in the arms of the nanny. They handed her to me and NOTICE the above photo of how she is laying, and notice how she is laying my arms…she barely even moved a muscle.
Those arms just sort of “flopped” there. The legs dangled without any muscle involvement. She just stared off into space. She she felt so very very very frail. She totally shocked me by how little she weighed.
Still no movement, no indication she even acknowledged we were there. We were given MANY reassurances by everyone she was just tired. She was sad because she had just left the foster family about an hour before. They told us that she had NOT CRIED for the foster parents. Then, they told us that she had been having diarrhea and had a patch on her belly button for it and not to remove it.
STILL did not move. When Dh went to hand her back to me, I forced her in an upright position. I knew she had been walking in October…and I trusted our guide would have told me if she was not. In fact, he told us that he had talked to the foster Mom that morning and she had been walking around that morning.
Shock and grief can really hit a child HARD.
This is the point where I was really able to feel just how frail and skinny she really was. I was encouraged though by the fact that she KNEW how to bend her legs and sit on the hip (thank you foster family!!!). However, she would NOT look anyone in the eye.
I slid my hand up to her chest, and I FELT the heart defect. I had NO idea you could feel a PDA heart defect, but the movement I was feeling was more than I was prepared for. It frightened me. It frightened me how fast the heart was beating as well, because it was the ONLY indication she gave of how scared she was.
So, there I was, holding this extremely fragile feeling little girl who weighed next to nothing in my arms with a weird feeling heart murmur. Days later I finally googled PDA heart defect and found out that it can be felt outside the heart, and that it feels like a kitten purring. Faith’s PDA feels like an adult cat purring!
We did get to see her blossom a little that night when I pulled out the beach ball and bubbles. She smiled for us. But the grief? It was intense. So very very intense, and it really is still.
That first night we called our guide to talk to her in Cantonese to try and get her to calm down (that going to bed thing that first night is ROUGH). He was so apologetic to us that what it took to calm her down was that he told her we were “Auntie” and “Uncle” instead of Mama and Baba. We were totally fine by that, and it surprised him. I tried explaining that she had a Mama and a Baba already and to her, it would seem like we were trying to take their place. It is NOT right for her to have to call us by their names. He seemed a wee bit confused by our reaction, and then it confused him a little more the next day when we didn’t push Mama and Baba and corrected him when he tried calling us that. We told him, “Please, if you have to make her call us anything, it should be Mommy and Daddy as that is different enough she might accept it.” What I tried to convey is that we would rather her not be forced to call us Mommy or Daddy, because those feelings that should go with someone being your Mom or your Dad should be there first. She did NOT even like us a little bit at this point, so I felt it was not right to make her call us that. We did great without anyone calling us anything.
BTW “Ah-dee” to Faith at that point was her word for going #2 in the potty….which I found kind of funny given it was so close to Daddy. It was probably apt for how she felt about us too.
After 4 days, our guide insisted on us forcing the issue for her to call us something. After listening to us for 3+ days tell him we are just fine with “Mommy and Daddy” he asked if we wanted to be Mama and Baba or Mommy and Daddy. We told him that she already had a Mama and a Baba, and that we would rather be Mommy and Daddy. So, that is what we are.
It took her 3.5 weeks, but she is finally calling us those names. Daddy came first out of her mouth, and I thought, why should our 4th child be any different? All of them said Daddy’s name first.