... she came.
3 years holds a lot of time to examine hindsight.
In hindsight, she looked so very little in those photos. So much littler that that other little girls, who were the same age by a few weeks. She didn't look 24 months old at all. Rather she looked like a baby. Not a toddler. I remember the feeling that we set out to adopt a toddler and got a baby instead.
She never again had a bottle. Ever. Not that we didn't try. I was told she has one 2 times a day but the moment she was handed off to us, she never had one again.
It took almost half a day to get off all those pee-soaked clothes. I knew that I was suppose to leave them on her, to let her have even the smallest piece of her past and herself. But the pee... even when it dried... was just too much for me, and so I coaxed her out of 5 layers of clothing in the next 24 hours.
Her constant scratching was most certainly not from scabies or eczema, but from fear. 3 years later she still does it when she's anxious, scratching the tops of her shoulders.
Her grief was so so awful to witness. I said at the time, it wasn't screaming really, just constant grief, looking for someone not there, frequent and unknown triggers that brought her silent tears. I remember one of the children in our travel group, saying to us, Your baby cries all the time. She did. It was heartbreaking.
She started to emerge from "shut down" mode slowly. Within a few days we got smiles, but she was still far from the 2 other babies in our group. With in a couple weeks we could see her personality more clearly. Within a couple months I can say that she was feeling "at home."
And her special need? Hmmmmm... I was confused then too. If you don't remember the story, we went to China not really knowing what her special need was. Mimi was in the traditional China adoption program, when at 12+ months when she was pulled from the standard program, evaluated, and put into the special need's adoption program. When we looked at her file, it was a list of symptoms, not a diagnosis. After consulting with docs that had reviewed her file, we had several things it could be, but still no diagnosis. Brain damage, mental retardation, mild CP... So there was a huge leap of faith going on when we said yes to her file. But within a couple days of her being placed with us, Papa and I said the unthinkable out loud... what is her special need? We still couldn't put our finger on it. She was significantly delayed, and like I said even more so than her peers of the same age at the orphanage, but she really didn't present like there was a definable special need. Then again she was on total shut down mode, and we were confused. And totally in love. And it didn't seem to matter much. In the weeks and months that followed, Mimi opened up and showed us her silly, feminine, stubborn, beautiful self. And it became obvious, even before we took her to the doctor, that there was no. special. need. at. all.
How does that happen? How does a a non-special need adoption happen in the special need's program? I don't have any idea. After talking directly to both the China orphanage director and our agency, we have several theories how it happened. And we know that this type of thing although very rare, does happen in the China adoption program. But really, we will never know. Was it all on the up and up? Again, I have my theories, but no concrete answers. Such are the unknowns in international adoption.
But here is what I do know.
3 years ago today I fell in love with this child so so so much, and that never changed. =