It is surreal to me that six months have gone by. Abby has done so well, adjusted so well, attached so well...it's like we've always had her here.
I went back and reread my post on Abby's first month home. We had some concerns then about her bonding and attachment. Abby's personality has always been so outgoing, and she displayed indiscriminate affection towards anyone who showed her attention. We didn't know if she would hone in on us as her sole caretakers and providers. We were not sure if she would continue to respond well to our boundaries and correction.
But she has. She has a heart that wants to please, and though she feels the freedom to push boundaries sometimes, she always responds well when we set her back on course. There is no doubt who her parents are and who to go to when she has a need.
This is a little girl that LOVES life. Everything is fun. Everything is exciting. Joe laughs every time we're out and she says she has to go to the bathroom. He knows I dread it. Public restrooms are the worst. They are not exactly the most sterile environments, and yet she wants to explore every aspect of them!!:the seats, the paper dispensers, the flushing mechanisms, the locks on the doors, the faucets and soap, the paper towels or air dryers---it's exhausting to try to keep her on the simple task of actually using the restroom!!!
Abby laughs alot. Her giggle is infectious. She adores her siblings and they adore her. Sure, the honeymoon phase is over, and at times she annoys them like any good little sister should. : ) But there is undeniable love and delight in their relationships, and she has brought a levity and energy to our lives that often leaves us rolling in laughter.
In the last six months, Abby has met almost all of her extended family, which has been a feat as spread out as our families are. We have been blessed that many in Joe's family have come here, and I was able to take her to Texas a couple of weeks ago to meet most of my side of the family.
Abby eats just about anything, and she eats as much as her teenage brothers! Her preferences change often, but she loves peanut butter, pizza, pasta, burgers, and anything with sugar! She never really hoarded food or ate too much to the point of becoming ill, as many kids can do. While she seems to appreciate food and is always up for a meal, she isn't desperate about it and I don't get the impression she was ever without food. She cleans her plate like someone who's been trained not to waste food, and no one in this house can clean a chicken bone like she can! But she seems secure that food will always be provided.
Abby speaks very good English and there really isn't anything that we say that she doesn't understand. There are still a few Amharic words and phrases that she uses, but for the most part she uses English. (With a little Spanish thrown in, since she loves Dora! : )) Her vocabulary grows daily, and I think she is ready to begin learning how to read in the fall.
If you would have asked me last week if Abby is secure in her place in this family and home, I would have said without a doubt. She has absorbed all the changes and adjustments from life in Africa to life here in America with ease, and she shows no outward signs of fear or insecurity.
But yesterday, she crawled in my lap when she woke up, as she does most mornings, and as I smothered her with kisses, she giggled a bit, then turned serious and looked up at me. She said, "Abby stay here long time?" To clarify, I asked her, stay where? She said, "America?" I spent the next half hour assuring her of course, you live here now and we are together forever! We talked about who her sisters were and who her brothers were and how we are a family! She giggled, hugged my neck tightly, and ran off to play.
I guess there are still some things her little heart is proccessing that I may never fully grasp or be able to anticipate. It makes me realize there will be times in the future that moments like this, conversations like this, will seemingly come out of left field--and give me a glimpse of how she is reconciling where she has come from with where she is now.
I still don't know much about what the first 4 years of her life were like. I may never know. I don't know if she'll ever be able to tell me what--if anything--she remembers. She, like most kids, lives in the moment, and her thoughts from the past seem a bit blurred and run together. And while sometimes I'll ask her things about Africa, most of what she shares are things from the orphanage and transition home, which makes me wonder if she has really forgotten what her life was like before last spring.
So we will continue to speak love and assurance to her little heart, not just of her place in this family, but as a child of the King. We will try to be sensitive and open to her as we watch her continue to discover how God is weaving her unique story, consistently providing a secure and loving place to grow and develop.
It has been a wonderful six months. But I am under no illusion that the adjustments are done. I try to expect and be prepared for anything at the same time that I enjoy the relative ease with which Abby has integrated into our family. I know there are many who fear adopting an older child, and I would certainly never suggest our experience would be everyone's. But I am blessed to say any problems we have faced so far have paled in comparision to the joy we have experienced with Abby in our lives. Becoming this little girl's family has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me, to Joe, to Josh, Nathan, Hannah and Danielle. We all agree: we are richly blessed.
(at the top of the post)