Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bubblebath Breakthrough

There have been major breakthroughs in the last 24 hours!  The first came during the drive to the Xiangjiang Animal Safari Park  Tuesday morning.   We were joined by Serana, a very fun, VERY bright 17 year old girl from Guangzhou.  She is the daughter of our guide, Wensi.  Wensi couldn’t be with us for the day, so she asked if we would like for her daughter to go with us.  Serana speaks both English and Mandarin, so she was able to be our translator.  We probably could’ve made it without a translator, and the park was fun, but not fun enough for the extremely hot weather.  So, the real treat of the day was having Serana to tell us what Jingshu was saying.  Jingshu chatters constantly, as if we can understand everything she is saying.  I guess that’s fair.  We talk to her as if she understands us.

On the drive, we were introducing ourselves to Serana and Jingshu would say, “Ni hao, Parker!” “Ni hao, McKenna!” etc.  I had already been wondering if Jingshu had a problem calling me Ma Ma because she already has one of those and, at this point, doesn’t see a need for another one.  I mentioned that to Serana and so she pointed to me and called me Tracy.  Immediately, Jingshu said, “Ni hao, Tracy!”  That was the first time she had addressed me by any name, so I was pleased, but quickly realized she can’t call me “Tracy” for ever, so why start now.  I asked Serana to refer to me as “Mommy” instead of “Ma Ma”.  From that point on, Jingshu has addressed me frequently, even with enthusiasm!  Every once in a while, she will forget and say Ma Ma instead, but not often. 

That was a GOOD step in the right direction.  It didn’t, however, keep her from choosing anyone over me and at times, still being downright rude.  But, that’s OK.  I am better able to deal with it now.  In fact, Darrell suggested that perhaps we were trying too hard.  You can’t coax someone to love you, especially when they are in crisis, and you serve as a constant reminder of that crisis.  I get that.  So, in general, we stopped “forcing” the issue and tried to just go with the flow and enjoy any bit of interaction she would accept.

Serana told me on the drive back home that she could tell Jingshu was missing her foster family because at every animal exhibit, she would ask Serana where their Ma Ma and Ba Ba were.  And when she saw a picture of a bear crying, she asked Serana if the bear was missing his Ma Ma.  It breaks my heart to imagine how her heart must be breaking.  I have to continue to trust that this is God’s plan for this little girl, and that He has great plans for her life.

Fast forward to later last night.  I was tired and had been HOT and SWEATY, so I decided to take a bubble bath.  And, I decided to make it a very relaxing time by taking my book and a glass of juice, turn on the classical music that plays in the bathroom and just let everyone else take care of Jingshu for a while.  I doubted if she’d even notice that I was gone.  I used two whole hotel-sized bottles of bubble bath, since it had become clear to me that she doesn’t like bubbles in her bath.  (In fact, I wonder if that was part of the problem to start with.  More on that at the end of the post.) 

It wasn’t long before she popped into the bathroom to say hello.  Sweet Logan tried to get her out, and keep her out, guessing that I could use some time alone.  She kept coming in.  I told Logan to just let her.  If this was the moment she chose to interact with me, bring it on!  I had someone take my book and my glass out so we could just play and nothing would get messed up.  So, she would go out of the bathroom and turn off all the bathroom lights (the switches are outside the room) and I would “scream” for help.  She would come in and laugh, then go out and turn the lights back on.  Then she’d grab a handful of bubbles and clap her hands together or blow them.  Apparently she likes them as long as she can control where and how they touch her.  This went on for 30 minutes or so.  Finally she came in while I was washing my hair and I asked she wanted to wash my hair.  She did it!  That was huge!  She then used the hand-held shower thingy to rinse my hair and decided it was pretty cool to spray my face, too.  The shower is another thing she doesn’t like, so maybe getting to control that was good for her, too.  I just kept praying that the Lord would protect me from whatever we’re supposed to be avoiding in the water, because it was going up my nose and in my mouth.  But, we were laughing and having a GOOD time.  I felt sorry for the rest of my family, knowing all the ruckus must have been annoying.  They were just thankful, along with me, that she was choosing to be where I was and we were having fun.  I love my family!  Later, we sat together and watched her favorite nighttime show on DVD on the computer.  I asked her if I could pull up a chair and she said yes!  That was new.  And from that point on, everything has changed.

Today Parker, McKenna and Logan went shopping with Serana.  What a great experience for them!  They rode the metro (subway) to her neighborhood, went to a dim sum restaurant for lunch and then shopped in “real” Chinese stores, not ones targeted to tourists.  Wait ‘til you see the LED (scrolling digital readout) belt buckle and black and yellow shoes Parker bought.  I really do love that he is confident enough to do his own thing, style wise.  Really, I do.   Mostly, I just love him.

Darrell and I had the morning with Jingshu to ourselves.  We were walking through the hotel to see the waterfall pool and she was holding Darrell’s hand.  At one point, she let go to skip ahead and Darrell grabbed my hand.  When she looked back and saw me holding his hand, right where she had been, she got mad.  I told him to grab her hand with his other hand.  She liked that.  And then…Get this...She let go of his hand and came around to GRAB MY HAND!  We were both SO excited! 

We spent the afternoon and evening with our friends, the Smiths.  Jingshu and Li Na (her Chinese name.  Her American name is Kelina.  Don’t you just LOVE that?) have become fast friends.  We took a taxi to their hotel, ate a dim sum lunch (small, bite-sized portions of several different dishes), then walked back to the island.  The White Swan Hotel is located on Shamin Island. Darrell and Matt took the girls to the Swan Room to play while Sheri and I did some shopping.  When we returned to the hotel, we decided to order Papa John’s pizza for dinner.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen seven people more excited about pizza!  I’m not sure the little girls were quite as excited, but they ate it.  We took the girls for a swim in the beautiful waterfall pool.  Needless to say, Jingshu fell asleep quickly tonight.  And I will go to sleep one happy Mommy.

Lessons learned:  Read.  Get educated.  Try to keep expectations low, and expect to be surprised by how hard this is.  Then, follow your educated gut feeling.  I had been trying so hard to do things by the book:  do everything for her, try to get her to be dependent on me, make eye contact, interact, interact, interact.  The more I tried, the more she resisted.  In trying to do everything just right, I was probably doing everything differently than her foster mom (like putting bubbles in the bath or combing her hair a certain way, or honestly, just trying to do those things for her when she’s used to doing them on her own!), continually reminding her of what she is missing.  Jingshu is fiercely independent.  We knew that was a possibility and is likely her survival strategy.  But, let me tell you, I believe this little girl would be strong and independent if she hadn’t been through so much in her short little life.  Finally, our educated gut feeling was to let her come to me.  And finally, she did.  I know to expect moments of rejection again.  She will continue to grieve for the family she lost and remember that she doesn’t need me because she has a MaMa.  That’s okay.  I’ll look back at this blog post and have hope.  And, I’ll likely run another big bubble bath!


Alison Burrell said...

Oh Tracy, thank you for sharing your honest words! I'm so glad you have taken each step with much prayer! It's such a reminder that in ever situation we need God to help guide us. He knows we can not handle these things by ourselves. He can't wait for us to let Him take control and see Him show off is love and grace! I can't wait to hear more stories about your little Jingshu and to meet her soon!

Anonymous said...

Praising God with you for that bubble bath!


Kerry said...

You don't know me from Adam, but I was introduced to your blog through a Little Rock friend: K. Tonti We are also parents of an internationally adopted child (baby from Ghana), and I had the privilege of traveling with a dear friend to bring her daughter home from China.

I've enjoyed reading about your journey; it has brought back some good memories of the places we visited. The progress report from today was such a blessing!

When you get home you might enjoy the book "Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child" by Patty Cogen (if you haven't already read it).

My prayers are with you!

Cindy said...

Our translator in Guangzhou was Wensi! Say Hi to her from the Voelkers! (As if she would remember us)
I am really enjoying your blog. Sounds like you're doing great.
One day at a time.
God makes everything beautiful in His time.
We continue to pray for you.
Cindy - for the Voelkers

Karon said...

I can't tell you how happy I am that things seem to be turning a corner! We love you guys! We continue to pray for you! Can't wait to see you!


Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading all your posts. Thank you for sharing. I'm so, so glad you have others around you experiencing the same thing. Reading each of the entries makes me even more excited that your other 3 kids could go get their sister with you.

Continuing in prayer,