I love answering your questions. What do YOU want to hear about?? Let me know anytime! I will be glad to answer them.
To answer Betsy's questions... :0)
And, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too. Now when am I going to get that Christmas card?Is Zoe having any adjustment difficulties? Crying at all? Does she miss her foster mom? How is she doing in her studies? Details please :) Betsy
#1 Christmas cards..... well... THAT is a very good question my dear friend. My guess is sometime in the next 3 months. We ran out of colored ink while printing out the newsletter. My dear hubby thought that 1 cartridge would print 125 newsletters front and back. FYI it won't. The labels are entered and ready. SO we are getting CLOSER! That is the good news. :0)
#2 Zoe... She is dealing with her adjustment so beautifully. Let me think. Difficulties.... as far as that goes- we figured out that she was pretending to get hurt to get more attention. You know. The old I have an owie every ten minutes routine. We had to really talk to her and explain that she doesn't need to lie to us to get attention. She can just say, "I need attention" or "I need a hug."
We have also seen that she is afraid to cry and be upset. It appears to us that in the past she may have been highly discouraged from showing these kinds of emotions. She tries so hard to be tough when she is sad. Fortunately she is a HORRIBLE liar and if you call her on it she'll break in 2.3 seconds. Here is a typical conversation.
Russ- Zoe are you okay?
Russ- You seem sad. Are you sad?
Russ- Are you sleepy?
Zoe- Yes. (with exaggerated nod) I sleepy
Russ- I think you are lying. I think you are sad.
Zoe- (BUSTS INTO IMMEDIATE TEARS!) I sad!
That girl! She is so sweet. We have explained to her that she is a little girl and that she is allowed to be sad. She is allowed to cry. I told her she does not have to be strong all the time. I explained that keeping pain inside your heart makes it worse and worse and that talking and crying can help it. I told her sometimes God gives us tears to help us wash our heart so it doesn't hurt anymore.
#3 Does she miss her foster mom?
YES! Big time. Not that she is constantly crying about it. She has a little sadness about it now and then. She does talk to her on the phone whenever something big happens for her. That is usually about once a week. She will have her first basketball game or we'll buy new shoes and she will want to share it with her foster mom. It seems that as long as she has that connection she does fine. Soon we will send her foster mom some pictures and stuff. Yep! Right after the Christmas cards go out! :0)
She also misses her Guatemala mommy. (that's what we call her birth mother) It seems different than her foster mom. She likes to share big moments with foster mommy. With her Guatemala mommy it seems that certain things trigger a memory and she gets sad. For instance Christmas Eve we were singing carols at our church service. She seemed to know them in Spanish. At home she seemed very sullen. After a little prying I found out that she used to sing those songs with her Guatemala mommy at Christmas.
Also, I noticed a strange correlation. We have a precious housekeeper who comes every other week to our house. She does the heavy lifting for me (toilets, tubs, dusting) so that I can spend more time with the kiddos. She has a similar complexion and hair color as Zoe and is bilingual in Spanish and English. Zoe adores her. This last week I noticed that every time she came over Zoe would have a time of grieving her mother. As soon as I put it together I asked her if this lady reminds her of her mommy in Guatemala. Tears spilled down her cheeks and she said yes. OHHHHHHHHHHH! AH HAH!
What she seems to need during these moments is to talk openly about her birth mother. She needs to NOT forget her. I ask her questions about things. "Do you think she is thinking about you?" "What does she look like?" "What did you used to do at Christmas?"
Sometimes I ask the same questions over and over. Sometimes I tell her what I think. "I think she loves you so much." "I think she is thinking about you today because it's Christmas. I think she is probably sad like you but I bet she is happy that you will be healthy and have a family and presents." "I think your mommy in Guatemala has eyes like your eyes."
I think what Zoe needs most is to have it be an open topic. She needs to talk about her and think about her. Her birth mommy will always be a part of our family. We even have Zoe's DNA picture with her mom framed in our kitchen and in her bedroom. She loves that. She will sometimes kiss the picture goodnight. Once she carried it around for a day. How I WISH that her birth mother had a phone so they could talk. I know it would mean so much to both of them.
SOOOO all in all.... she is doing great! She is mostly happy and content but she is grieving appropriately. If she wasn't mourning at all I would be very concerned that she had some things bottled up inside. It takes a lot of trying to put myself in her little shoes and "behind her eyes." Not always easy- sometimes exhausting. Sometimes it would be easier to let her be "strong" and not sift through it with her but it would be so wrong. That would be like my mother passing away and never crying or talking about her again. How bizzare! How could I heal??? What would it feel like if I knew inside that everyone around me would just prefer it if I kept my feelings to myself? Please don't make the mistake of thinking that ignoring the topic means it's not there. If no one mentioned your mommy again after she died would you just forget about it and be fine? I don't care whether you adopted your child at 13 years old or 1 day old- they WILL mourn their loss. The only decision you have to make is whether you want to be a part of it with them or force them to do it alone. I want to be there through the grieving process with Zoe. I never want her to feel that she is walking this path alone. Being alone in your deep pain is often harder than a death.
#4 How is she doing in her studies?
GREAT! She is learning English very quickly. She understands a TON of what we are saying and is speaking about 1/3 of what she understands. She is a WHIZ at math unless it's a concept that requires explanation in English that she doesn't understand. She is making great strides in learning all her letters and all their sounds. I think we will be reading very soon!
In a minute I will upload a video of Zoe doing her school today so you can see what she is learning.