In the adoption world, it seems a little cliche' to say a child is blossoming at home, but it's said so often because when you see it for yourself, it's the best description of what's happening.
It doesn't seem possible to see so much progress in so many areas in such a small amount of time. But with a little food, water and warmth...everything just seems to burst forth.
Just like with a flower, it's been there all along, but if the environment is too harsh, God has the flower stay hidden and dormant until it warms up. Don't come out yet little flower. The clouds hide the sun and the cold winds will freeze and rip apart your beautiful petals. Just sleep safely for now.
Now that her world is warm, we're seeing our little flower blossom before our eyes and it's the most amazing, beautiful thing.
Right away, with food and water, some really big things changed. A child cannot learn and grow or even think of others when they do not have enough food and water.
I expected the food issues, but Ally is doing so much better now that she knows she can eat and have some more. That very word, "more" brings smiles and settles anxiety. She is learning to enjoy her food and she now has some preferences and sometimes leaves a little food. The first week we had her, if one grain of rice fell from her mouth, she would quickly pick it up and eat it.
The thing that I wasn't expecting to be such an issue was water. Ally's skin was so rough and dry when we got her. The first couple of days, her diapers were almost dry and we could only get her to take small drinks from an open cup.
We noticed when we visited in August that she spit up frequently and the first couple of weeks we had her, she spit up a lot. Her teeth don't look good at all. Probably a combination of grinding them and the constant acid coming up from her stomach.
Ally hardly spits up now and I think the biggest factor has been water. I looked it up and reflux is a symptom of dehydration. I may have just thought it was a dairy intolerance, or just something Ally deals with, except I'd heard of many adopted children being adopted from her country with similar issues and all of the children were lacking water...some didn't even know how to drink at all.
When we made an effort to get Ally to drink, her natural thirst returned. What a blessing from God that when there's less water available, a child will be less thirsty. But now that she's drinking water her reflux is almost gone, her skin is soft, and her brain is more able to focus on learning.
Such a simple thing as water.
People have asked me why they would limit water in the orphanage. Well, it takes a lot of time to give each child drinks and then you have to go around and change all of their diapers. Perhaps if the staff at the orphanages knew the effects of the lack of water they would give them more water. Maybe.
Having food and water has allowed Ally to concentrate on other things, but I think a lot of her progress has come about from the warmth of having a family. Being surrounded by love and having an environment where she can learn and explore.
Ally walks now. When we picked her up in January, she wasn't walking any better than she was when we saw her in August...just cruising and walking holding on to hands. Her legs seemed weak and wobbly. She's been walking more every day she's been with us. The other day she stood up in the middle of the room with nothing to hold onto and just took off walking. Her strength has greatly improved this month.
She's talking too! "Baby" was her first word. Her second word was "there". We've been playing peek-a-boo with her...she covers her face with her blanket and we say, "Where's Ally?" When she uncovers her face, we say, "There she is!" A few days ago, when she took the blanket away she said, "There". She's babbling up a storm and trying to communicate more and more.
She's signing "eat" and she's learned to wave. The other day she surprised us by doing some of the hand motions to "If You're Happy and You Know It" all by herself!
Here she is doing the motions for "Your face will surely show it."
When we visited her in August, we brought a doll. She tossed it aside. I brought a different doll when we picked her up last month...same reaction. Our youngest, Lydia, loves dolls and she often leaves them lying around. Ally would see them, but wasn't interested in them at all. Then last week she picked one up! She looked it over and then hugged it! She continued to treat it gently and carry it. I took a toy baby bottle and held the baby and gave it the bottle and then she reached for them. I gave them to her and she gave the baby it's bottle!
She is also now paying attention to the pets. She tries to play with the cat with a string and yesterday we saw her pet the cat all by herself. It may not seem like a big deal that a child starts to play with dolls or pet cats, but it shows that because her own needs are being met, she is free to care for someone else.
Adopting Ally has truly been one of the most amazing experiences. I am so thankful that God brought us together. Ally is amazing and she blesses us every day. She now loves to be loved and gives love back.
If anyone has ever considered the time, effort and money involved in adoption and has wondered if it's worth it, I have to tell you something. Everything that it cost us seems like nothing compared to Ally. Her new life...the fact that she is here and not there...far outweighs every piece of paperwork, every moment of waiting, every dollar, every errand, every sleepless night and every trip across the ocean.
Recently upon hearing about our adoption, someone Jeff works with said, "God will bless you for that." Jeff replied, "He already has."
We are the ones who are blessed....so very blessed.