Friday, October 17, 2008

Abby's Adjustment

Written May 2006:

We arrived in Nanchang at 2pm and settled in at the Jiangxi Hotel. We were scheduled to meet Abby at the Civil Affairs Office at 4pm. I took a quick nap while the others unpacked some and explored. We headed out the door just before 4 to make our trip to the office. We were excited but anxious too since we knew Abby was 19 months old (so more aware) and had been in Nanchang for at least the whole day already (perhaps overnight---we weren’t sure).

The Jiangxi Civil Affairs office had just moved one week earlier so we entered a building primarily still under construction. The elevator didn’t even look completely finished! But, we rode up to the 26th floor to meet our Abigail Jane Yutao. We walked in the large room where we saw Abby sitting on the floor playing with someone from the orphanage. She took one look at us and started crying. In her hands were a room key to the Jiangxi Children’s hospital and a pack of tissues. (Note: these did not leave her hands for almost 24 hours unless we pried them out!). I was afraid to just take her from the director because I didn’t want to upset Abby but we did it anyhow. We sat on the floor and played a little bit. Anna Grace (almost aged 3) fed her a water bottle—shoved it in her mouth even when she started coughing from too much water. Abby gradually calmed down a tad but was obviously not pleased to see us.

We were only at the office long enough to pick her up and receive some gifts from her orphanage. Perhaps 20 minutes total. So, off we went back to the hotel. When we picked her up to leave the room, the crying started in earnest once again. We were expecting this but it’s still very sad to see/hear.

We got back to the hotel and sat down together on the floor. If she was sitting on my lap, she was relatively quiet. The kids wanted to interact with her----especially Anna Grace. I think having AG there really helped Abby adjust but it was probably a bit much for that first night to always have Anna in her face. But try telling a 2 year old to back off from her new sister. Not happening! I had Dave put in a Wiggles movie to try and get everyone distracted so we could talk with James, our agency rep. He was translating Abby’s developmental report from the orphanage. We learned she was crawling but not walking independently yet, loved to eat bananas, congee, rice, noodles, and watermelon. We were also lucky enough to have a birth note of which we have a copy as well as a photo. We fixed Abby a bottle and ordered pizza. Both little ones were in bed at 7pm---from pure exhaustion, I’m sure.

I laid Abby in bed and covered her up. When she woke up the next morning (crying), she had not moved all night. She made no attempt to roll over or wiggle or anything. We made a bottle which she willingly took (much to my surprise). We had many tears that morning and throughout the day but she calmed down much sooner than I expected her to. At meal times though, she would not eat anything the orphanage said she like to eat. I found that odd but thought, well, it’s only the first day. She quickly attached to mom or big sister (15 years old) but wouldn’t do much with the others unless we were there too. That was a struggle but it’s gotten much better. (Five weeks home now: still prefers mom or Katie but is very happy with her big brother too. Daddy is a bit more of a struggle but it’s summertime so the kids are home all the time thus more exposure to them.)

The thing that concerned me though was her lack of movement. If I picked her up, she kept her body stiff as a board. I had to pry her legs apart to put her on my hip. She made no attempt to use her hands, especially the pincher grasp. If we put her down to sit, if she made any movement whatsoever, she fell over completely backwards or sideways. When we put her down for a nap or bedtime, she did not move the entire night. Heaven forbid I put her on her stomach to play or crawl. She just laid there and screamed. Many of her movements were similar to those of an autistic child. I work with autistic kids so am familiar with them. Logically I knew that these were also similar traits to a baby going through great trauma. But when you see it, you are scared. My husband and kids kept telling me she was fine but I was worried.

Forty-eight hours later she was willingly eating table foods again but I usually had to feed them to her. Whatever works! She also started to pick up Cheerios from my hand. By seventy-two hours later, she was wiggling when she slept and would cry when I would lay her down for a nap or bedtime. By the fourth full day, Abby was eating everything we were (no more bottles of formula—just sippee cups). She still didn’t move a lot (never did crawl for us) but was attempting to do more.

Flash forward to coming home: within a week, Abby was walking. Five weeks later: She eats everything under the sun, is trying to talk, climbs up and down the stairs, loves to play with her siblings, gets jealous of her three year old sister very easily (what fun!), loves to swim, and is basically one factor in our double trouble duo!!


Carrie said...

wow thanks that will help a lot of people!

Denise said...

Jenna, who was 16 months at adoption was in mnay ways like Abby. When we put her down for a nap she would lie on her back, perfectly still with her arms at her sides. The first night she didn't move at all. The next nights she did but not until she was asleep. We would put her on the bed and never attempt to get off. She would sit in one spot and just spin in a circle. Very odd.