13 September 2009

pre-court visit

The day before court, Sergei drove me to the orphanage for a visit. Because we left later and hit traffic, our time visiting was short. She seemed bigger when she walked in and saw me, but actually hadn't grown (I measured later). She's just taking up more space in the world--at least, when she's with me--and that makes me happy. She's had another haircut, but hair will grow. I don't have a single picture from this sunny day. But, I remember it well!

We had about ten minutes inside and then another ten minutes outside before lunch. Sergei thought I'd be able to eat with her, but this orphanage wouldn't allow that. She was sad and sniffly when she thought our visit was over, putting her arms up to be carried inside. We waited while she ate and then she got to come back outside for a little while--missing the beginning of her naptime.

This time we played on the swing. She still fits in that square, baby swing. While we were swinging I'd ask her (I'm still only speaking Russian to her, but won't bother you with it in both languages.), "Are you a bunny?" and she'd shout, "Nyet!" "Are you a kitty?" "Nyet!" and on and on through animals and nonsensical things until I'd say, "Are you a girl?" "Da!" "Are you my daughter?" "DA!" She laughed all through this.

I'd keep asking her things about her and things about me (mine, of course, ended with "Am I your mama?"). She was adamant that she was Sasha and not Shura, so that's one hurdle down. She did get a little confused about Sergei being there and commented about Mama and Papa...but we sorted that out. She knows now, and told me it was good, that in our family there are only two people; only a mama and a daughter.

When I'd stop, she'd shout, "Kто ето! Kто ето!" (Who is this?) and we'd start again. It was a great way to affirm that we are a family. It was during this game that I saw a glimpse of what was in store for us. She just doesn't have an off switch yet. She will continue playing and laughing past the point of exhaustion, verging on mania. She was having a great time, but just didn't know when to stop. She couldn't stop. And, I asked. I asked if she was tired, if she was finished, if she wanted to stop, if she wanted to play on the slide...and she didn't. When it was time to go, she immediately shut down--the laughter stopped and her eyes went blank. (That's really hard to see. I know it's how she copes in the orphanage, and that she won't have to "cope" much longer. But it still hurts my heart.) She was breathing hard and was obviously exhausted. She even said she was tired when I asked. But she doesn't yet know how to stop. I think this is partly because her day is so scheduled. She doesn't make decisions about when to start and stop an activity, so she doesn't know when she wants or needs to stop.

I think overstimulation and self-regulation may be a challenge for us in the beginning. What I learned from our time on the swing is that I need to not ask her if she wants to stop, but to help her notice the signs that she DOES want to stop, and then tell her it's time to stop. ("You're all out of breath. You're getting tired. We've been doing this a long time. Let's play something quiet/read a book/etc.")

It was a fun and educational visit!


Lauri said...

sounds great... can't wait to hear more

Annie said...

You are so wise....that sounds just the way to handle it....

And that game... reminds me of games I played with my younger adopted ones (Nastya and Zhenya) and with my biological children, too. Repetition; questions and the happiest of answers. You brought back memories of my grown-up daughter Lydia and I playing a game like that on the swing....except in her case it was using those lovely answers as a beginning spelling lesson.

Who loves you most? M A M A
L Y D I A Sweetest girl in the world today. (Mothers are allowed to exaggerate in these ways.)

I'll remember that happy day for all my life, as you will remember this day with your dear daughter.

I can't wait to hear more. You make me so happy, Kate!

votemom said...

oh my heart. that is exactly how my sasha was..... the switch turning off/eyes going blank. it is heart-wrenching.

katekate got like that with not being able to come down from her manic "high" of activity. i still use the "ten more minutes", then "five more minutes" to remind her. it also helps her to know what's next. she really likes to know what's next ahead of time.... when i tuck her in at night she wants to know about the next day. maybe lexi will need that too.

your game sounds wonderful -- it brings out her sense of humor and helps her laugh - just the therapy she needs!!!!

what a happy post to wake up to - i'm so thankful!

kate said...

Votemom, it's interesting because that's what I instinctively do--give those time warnings. But, right now, she doesn't understand. It was the "five more minutes" that had her off the swing with shut-down eyes.

I know she'll learn what that five-minute warning is. It's just sad how many steps backwards we have to take before we can start walking forward.

It's okay--I'm not in a hurry. Walking is fine!

Lisa said...

Abbye is still kind of like this. She will continue to play and play to the point of exhaustion. Her behavior just becomes more frantic, out of control and obnoxious. I don't know if this has much to do with the orphanage in her case, or is just who she is. Annie is totally the opposite, including telling me when she's ready for bed or a nap sometimes!

Maggie said...

Kate, so glad to see your blog on line again. I have thought a million times about you.

Barb said...

It sounds absolutely wonderful - the connection you two have made! As Annie said, you are so wise and have a whole arsenal of ways to deal with pi behaviour. I just can't wait for your post that says you 2 are finally home!

Kerry said...

Sounds wonderful! Can't WAIT to hear about the day you get to pop her in the car and drive off.

FYI-- we have both extremes in our house: the child who just goes and gets in bed for a nap, and the kind you describe. So it may be more personality driven than a result of the situation-- better up the caffeine intake!!

beckyww said...

Keep it coming.

Tami said...

Kate, you're doing great...already! You're noticing the things that it took me a good two or three adoptions to pick up on! :) Keep up the good work.
The orphanage stare is the most heartbreaking thing I think I have ever experienced as a mom. It was so hard to see the kids shut down when we had to leave. Thankfully I haven't seen that stare in a very, very, very long time.
((hugs)) to you both! Can't wait for all of the days to be marked off that calendar! :)

Jenni said...

Sounds like a wonderful, joyful visit! The swing game is so sweet.

I know the lack of an off switch situation well - with Eamon it applies to both playing and eating. He also did the eyes blank thing - it was heartbreaking to see, but went away after a month or so.

Jackie said...

You are one fantastic MOM!

Tammy said...

The (only) good thing about seeing these issues and then seeing her shut down? Realizing at some point that she doesn't do them anymore. One day, this day will be a memory and you will be amazed at how far she has come. It will be an incredible feeling seeing the progress she will make once she gets home with you for good.

Also, besides not knowing when to shut down, she is probably also feeling so good she just doesn't want it to end. Even though Zachary is an infant, once he settled in to my home, he fought sleep for awhile. He just wanted to play play play and there were days he would play to exhaustion, despite my best efforts at trying to get him to sleep sooner. It seemed that he just felt so good because for the first time in his life, he felt secure and happy. It was like he never wanted it to end.

For our kids who have had such uncertainty in their lives, living in the moment is the only way they know how to live. There may still be a part of Lexi that wonders if you will come back and if she will ever feel this good again.

Keep telling us these stories. I love to hear them and hopefully it helps to "talk" about them.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Oh YAY, YAY, YAY, I just got back into town and on my puter and saw your court date went great! YAAAAAY!
Congratulations Mommy, it's a girl!
I can totally visualize what you mean about her taking up more space. Not that she grew physically, but her spirit grew and that only happened for one reason. I know very well about no off switch, but it sounds like you have a great handle on it already.

Lindsay said...

Sounds like you got a lot of valuable 'stuff' from the visit today, besides just chillin with your girl.

It was never anything other than gut wrenchingly hard leaving Hannah behind during our 3 months of visits. I know how horrible this part is for you and hope it goes swiftly for you both.

MMrussianadoption said...

super happy for you Kate. When do you come to the US? I just know you will be a great Mom. You are in the home stretch. Try not to cry too much when you make it to the Embassy. I did for Kevin.

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

Overstimulation was/still is an issue with our kids. When you have no say whatsoever in your activities, I guess it is very difficult to control your emotions! You will do great once she understands you are not going anywhere. I am so overjoyed that you have completed this step and it's only a matter of days until she's yours and only yours! Yeah!!

The Holmes Crew said...

Oh I can relate to so much of your post! It's all so common for these children. As you said, having had their entire lives regulated, scheduled, regimented, they know little else. When they do get the opporutunity to "go wild", they know no limits. With time, and you guidance, she will learn...you're doing an awesome job already!