July 8, 2013

First things First

Well whattya know....I'm managing to squeeze in another post in LESS than two weeks. This is an accomplishment folks, definitely an accomplishment. Right now there is a fully cooked, partially eaten ham sitting on my counter that needs to be put away and full-on disaster area in our basement. But, I really want to try to answer the question that everyone asks:

"How is Meili doing?" 

This time I will try to give the more "expanded" answer.
Overall, considering everything she has been through in the last four months, we think she is doing pretty well. But there are a lot of areas that factor in to how someone is "doing," and so we have to weigh all the different areas. And truthfully, we have nothing to compare to since we've never done this before, so we frequently resort to speculation based on what we observe and not much more.

As far as adapting to our family; we think that is going pretty well. She seems to fit in relatively easily and her siblings are all very fond of her, and she of them (for the most part). And, she sleeps well. I can't even explain what a huge, enormous blessing this is. We were anticipating serious sleep issues. We'd heard horror stories from other adoptive parents. But we've had none of that. She sleeps all night and takes a good nap with nary a whimper.

Although she still prefers me, she's finally starting to really want to spend time with Jon. When we arrived home, if he took her to the store, she would find the first female she could and want to leave Jon for her. Now, most of the time she prefers Jon.

Adapting to the US? This seems to be going well too. Sometimes I have to remind myself that everything she does is new. We were at a lake last weekend and it occurred to me she'd probably never been to a lake. Or a park, or the pool, or a library, or by a campfire, on a trampoline, on a bike....you name, she hadn't done it. We don't even think she'd ever touched grass before she came here.

Never washed dishes...

Or drank from a cup...

Played outside....

Had something of her own...

Visited a museum...

Jumped on a trampoline...

Walked outside barefoot...

You get the idea.
Almost every day there's a new "first."
It's gotta be exhausting. But she takes it in stride. A time or two of trial and error and she's good to go. She's mastered slides at the park, touching the grass without having a meltdown, and she's even becoming a HUGE fan of the pool. That 5 minute break without touching the water is just about enough to do her in!

So we're 2 for 2.

Here's where it gets confusing. You see, we were really expecting her to be picking up English a little more quickly. We were also expecting more of a growth spurt.  We've definitely seen some changes physically, particularly in her muscle tone. When we came home, her body was floppy. She didn't even have enough muscle to hold on to me when I carried her. She's definitely gained some muscle, and little weight along with it, but not a lot and not as much height or weight as we had expected. She certainly uses some English words, but they often don't sound right and she seems to be confused by names. Except for the cat. She knows that darn cat inside, outside and upside down. But try to get her to say her brother's name? Nope. Won't happen. 

We've had tympanograms done at her doctors office three times and every time they have showed a flat line for both ears. As I understand it, it's supposed to show a bell curve if a child's eardrums are vibrating properly. I'm told the flat lines suggest she's got some fluid behind her ears that won't drain and that she's likely not hearing well. This could explain the delay in language. But it confuses me because she definitely understands quite a bit and says some words VERY clearly. 

Like "hello." If you've met her, you've heard her say "hello." Maybe once, but probably more like 852 times. We don't know why she says it so much...maybe because it gets her a response from others? I've gotta be honest....I'm ready for a new word. I've heard that one a lot. A LOT.

Her birthday was in May, so she's technically now three years old. It was easier when she was two. We could say she was two when people asked and no one thought anything of it. Now we have to say she's three and very predictably watch people silently try to figure out if someone so small can really be three years old. She's three on paper, but that's about it. In no other way is she three.

Well, maybe that's not completely true....
Seems like kind of a three-year-old thing to insist on wearing a princess dress all.the.time.

Nevertheless, the delays are difficult for us. We don't completely understand them, and we don't know if they're all due to her rough institutional past or to something else. We had planned on dealing with her heart, but really hadn't expected the heart to be a non-issue and the delays to be at the forefront of things we had to deal with. 

Some of you may remember this picture:

This was the day we met Meili. Some commented that I look very worried in this picture. They would be right. I often read stories about others who adopt and how this day is just such a marvelous, amazing, wonderful day for them. One of the happiest of their lives. For me, this was not the case. That right there is a look not of worry, but of very, very real fear. 

That fear hasn't left. Sometimes it's kept at bay by the busyness of a being a family of six. But when we start to deal with "issues" in which we don't know the outcome, it rises. Sometimes it takes over and makes me question everything we've done. And it makes me feel guilty. After all the Bible tells us over and over and over "do not be afraid." Perfect love in Christ casts out fear. These feelings don't come from our loving Father. So why are they still here? Don't I have enough faith?

I hope that doesn't sound too vague. Without getting into the details at this point, I'm attempting to convey that despite the fact that overall Meili seems to be adjusting well, we still have unknowns and challenges. And it's hard to be an adoptive family, even with a fairly easy-going child like Meili. Some days it's really, really hard.

For all the people I know who adopted before us; I'm sorry. I wish I could have done more, helped more, been there for you more. But I didn't know. I just didn't know.

I've never wanted to sugar-coat this process. But I will admit it's hard to be real. It took me 40 minutes to write the above paragraphs. I think adoption blogs tend to focus and everything that's good and beautiful about adoption and leave out the hard spots. I wish someone had told us about the hard spots. 

If you're one of the sweet people who is still praying for our family, please don't stop. And if you know other adoptive families, pray for them too. Because I can almost guarantee, they still need it.


  1. Great blog Virginia. Meili and your other kiddos are lucky to have such wonderful and dedicated parents!! I really enjoyed meeting Meili, she is such a happy and smiley girl.... ;) I am sure that with time she will catch up on her delays!

  2. Love the update. I can't speak for others, but I never wanted to just read fluffy, happy posts about how wonderful life is after a child is adopted. I mean, life isn't that way for any family or any person, so why would it be different in this situation? There are always ups and downs, and those who really care will love, support, and pray you through both the good times and tough times. I'm still praying. I wish I could do more, but I am not sure what I can do from my bed. But if you think of something, don't hesitate to let me know. :)

  3. Thank you for your honesty! As someone considering adoption, it's important to hear the truth. Praying for you going forward! By the way, that trampoline picture is fantastic!

    1. Don't let me scare you away from it! I feel like all the training focuses so much on the child, and I really never thought about what parts I might struggle with. I wish someone would have filled me in THOSE parts so I would have been more prepared.

  4. Jon & Virginia,

    I know a few words can only do so much. But I want you to know without a shadow of a doubt, there are real people, getting on real knees, each and every night, lifting you up in prayer, to a REAL God... You fear is not out of a lack of faith, but out of the human condition. Even Christ himself prayed to the Father before He went to the cross,

    Luke 22: 42-43 (42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.)

    I pray you see the angles in your life, in these very days. Those who support you, those who strengthen you, and those who love you.
    I am proud to call you "my friends." You are an inspiration to many. Not because of your accomplishments or commitments, but because of your authenticity, in the joys and struggles of life. I pray that you NEVER loose that quality. Thank you for being you, through and through. I see God in your lives and in your family. May God bless you this day and the days to come...

    I believe, in the future, Meile will reflect back at her up-bringing, as an adult, and be overwhelmed by the reality of God in her life, and by "her family" God chose to show his love through. The Sprangs...
    Love you guys..!

    1. Thanks Matt! We appreciate you and Stacie and are grateful for your support and encouragement :)