Tuesday, March 15, 2011

6 Months - A Reflection

When we first decided to adopt Milana many people thought we'd never go through with it. They thought it was a whim, a fleeting idea that would never come to be. Many questioned why we would want to do such a thing. They questioned who would care for a child with DS once we were gone. How could we do this to our bio children.

Then there were those who were more than supportive. They came to all our fundraisers, donated their time, money, and hard work to help us. Those people we will never be able to thank enough.

I can't say it has always been easy. The paperwork was difficult at times. We had to redo form after form time and time again, but we hung in there. When we finally got to Milana's country and then finally to Milana's orphanage it was so surreal.

This adorable little girl was going to be ours. Oh when she walked in the room with her arms extended towards us. She just won our hearts. We would soon learn that she would extend her arms and want to go to EVERYONE! We still adored her, but after weeks and weeks of this it became difficult.

I remember visit after visit every time she saw ANYONE she would want to go with them. I had been told how kids "shop" around for parents. She didn't know she was doing this, but she was and I can't blame her. This was her life. This was how she survived. She is cute afterall and the girl knows how to work it.

Once Chris left Ukraine to head home it got so much harder dealing with this cute girl ditching me left and right for anyone and everyone, but I hung in there as best as I could. When it was FINALLY Gotcha Day I was thrilled beyond belief. I had no idea things would continue to change. The child I took out of the orphanage was NOT the child I knew IN the orphanage.

You see, I had this amazing little girl who had lived in an orphanage her whole life. She had never been in a car or outside of the orphanage grounds. Here I was taking her away from everything she knew.

The next week was more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I wasn't ready for the food issues. By food issues I don't mean that Milana was a picky eater or had difficulty eating. She wanted to eat every time she saw food and she didn't want to stop. She shoveled food in her mouth as fast as she could to the point where she could no longer fit food in her mouth. When it was time to stop eating she would scream - not because she was hungry, but because she could still see the food. I was so afraid that someone would come and take her away.

By this time I was so ready to be home. I missed my girls and I missed Chris. I was starting to doubt myself more than I probably ever had in my life. I was so sure I could do this from the get go and now I was doubting whether or not I could handle this. Were all those negative Nancy's right?

When I got home things continued to get difficult. Now not only had I taken Milana out of the orphanage and away from her friends and caretakers - I took her out of her country. I took her to a place she would never have known existed. I brought her into a home with sisters and dogs and a Mommy and a Daddy. She didn't know anything about any of those things.

I tried to listen to those who said not to go anywhere for some time. I believe some people recommended to just have your adopted child with family for the first 4-6 months. Others recommended longer. Maybe I should have listened. I don't know.

The more we were around people the harder it was for me to bond with Milana. I mean here is this super cute 3 year old who lights up a room - who wouldn't want to snuggle her and hug her? The more she cozied up to strangers the more I wanted to pull away.

I cried and continued to doubt myself regularly. People who have never been in my shoes would try to offer advice and I would want to scream at the top of my lungs. Deep down I knew people meant well, but how could they KNOW what I am going through or what I should be feeling.

Eventually I got some advice - Fake it until you make it. This was the best piece of advice I ever got and I got it from other Moms who had been there. Thank God for these other Moms. They were life savers!

I would hold Milana like a baby and rock her and sing to her. I would look into her eyes and talk to her. I did this whether I wanted to or not. I did this whether she wanted to or not. Most days neither of us wanted to snuggle. Then one day things started to change. Milana didn't push me away and I didn't want to put her down. Now keep in mind she did want to be close with everyone - even me just not at bedtime or for long periods of time.

Slowly Milana stopped wanting to go to everyone all the time. Eventually she would start to look back for me even when she would go to someoene else. She would look to make sure I was still there and then she'd want to come right back to ME!!!

I can honestly say now that I LOVE this little girl! I love her so much and with ALL my heart. Things were so hard and I did doubt myself and why we ever decided to adopt. Things are so much better now. They aren't always easy. Milana still has food issues and they aren't fun. But I can honestly say I would do it all over again.

I learned that nothing worthwhile is EVER easy. If someone tells you otherwise they are wrong! I've learned so much about myself and what I am capable of and it is so much more than I ever thought I could ever be capable of.

I've learned that not only would I do this again - I WANT to do this again. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would do it KNOWING how difficult it could be. I would do it KNOWING how difficult things were. I would do it KNOWING that it would be MORE than WORTH it!

Life isn't about fancy cars or big houses or trendy clothes. It's about so much more! Milana is that so much more! Peyton is that so much more! Riley is that so much more! Karissa is that so much more! Those millions of orphans in the world - THEY are that so much more that life is all about.


  1. Jenn, what an amazing and honest post!! I just wanted to say congrats for sticking it out because I know attachment and bonding is not easy in adoption sometimes! (My 7yr old adopted son has RAD and I can totally relate to your feelings!!!) Really!!!! It's hard to bond to a kid who will reach for every stranger who crosses her path and not accept your love when you are trying to give it! My little Anna does this somewhat as well... Its so neat to read thru your process in your post and I am just really moved by it!! It is not an easy thing to do but it sounds like you did all the right things! I am concerned with certain things with our little Anna which I know are attachment related and I am inspired by your post!! Thanks!!

  2. Beautifully written Jenn! Your honesty in your process is something most of us can relate to with our adopted child. I know Milana has the best Mom for her that she could have ever asked for. I just hope another child gets to have that same blessing.

  3. This post reminds me of a book on adoption called "Two Little Girls." Have you ever read it? I appreciate the honesty. I think it helps to know what you may face emotionally so if/when it happens, you know it's normal and it's not forever! :)

  4. Thank you for this. I am going through the same thing right now, not wanting to snuggle and cuddle and ME having a hard time bonding with him. Thank you for the advice and expertise and that there is light at then end of the tunnel.