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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 7, Wednesday {grief}

If the posts recently have been hard to read, you may want to skip this one.
I put it out there for those who might be in our shoes next.
Our girl is grieving so hard.
I mean very hard.
So much harder than Tess or Jude ever did.
Harder than the other babies in our group.
So much harder than I imagined possible.
I will make the leap, and say that this child was surely loved and cherished so much or else she couldn't possibly be this devastatingly heartbroken.
Go back here, and you'll see that mentally I was prepared for all sorts of reactions to grief.
But I heard someone say one of the most important things to remember in international adoption is to expect the unexpected.
I know full well that the grief is a wonderful sign that the process is underway.  But I didn't expect the depth of her sadness.  Maybe I did expect it.  But until you witness the depth of it, I think perhaps it is impossible to comprehend.  How amazingly deep her sadness goes.  Our Mimi lost everything in her world in an instant.

---She is almost always silent.  Unless she is weeping.  It isn't a scream.  It's more like weeping that comes from deep within her.
---Any attempt to change any part of her clothing, (remove a shirt, take off a shoe, put on a jacket. close a button...) throws her instantly back to her grief.  So we let her remain in what she is wearing until it's just so dirty I can't take it.  She spent a good 2 hours of today with only one arm in her jacket, the other end dangling, as I could get her to take it off.  If it weren't for the sweat rolling off her, I would have let her wear it to bed.
---Leaving the hotel room throws her spinning back to grief.  So does a knock on doors, entering and exiting elevators, and entering/leaving buildings.
---She will not nap.  Except for cat naps minutes at a time when I carry her.
---Entering into or out of most all buildings trigger her.
---She is hoarding all she can in her tiny fists.
---Diaper changes lead to instant screaming.
---Riding in cars scare her.  But we have appointments to keep.
---The scratching continues anywhere she can reach.  We are re-directing with toys and find the advantage to the aforementioned hoarding.  It's hard to scratch when your hands are full of stuff.
---She will not let herself lay down.  So she falls asleep each time sitting up.  Then I lay her down.
---She has only had about 2-3 ounces of water since we got her.  No formula at all even though we were told she takes two full bottles a day.
I was unprepared for the depth of her grief.  Maybe you just can't prepare to witness and be a part of something like that.  She is heart broken.  Her grief at times seems palpable.  It is a blessing that she is attaching to me.   But with this attachment comes the realization that I can not make it better.   She often looks directly in my eyes, longingly, and seems to know it all. She seems to fully comprehend the permanence of her situation.  And then her big silent tears come, and then the weeping.  All in that order.  She looks so longingly into my eyes as if to ask me to help her.  And of course I can't.  At least not in the way that she longs for.  So sometimes, many times, I cry along with her.
The good news...
---She is attaching very very well.  To me.  But won't have anything to do with Papa.  I am sad for him as this rejection would be hard on any father.   He loves her so very much.  It's hard for him.  I've seen first hand what good attachment looks like and what poor attachment looks like.  And sweet Mimi's attachment so far has been so much better than we could have hoped for.  A huge blessing that makes the grief more bearable.
---Her appetite is healthy.  She's picky as all get out, but when we find the right foods, she gets her fill.  She especially likes congee, steamed bun, tangerines, noodles, bananas, and yogurt.
---I don't think she has/had scabies.  Rather eczema and she allows me apply liberal coats of Aquaphore and lotion several times a day, as long as I don't attempt to unbutton, unsnap, or remove any article of clothing.  Coupled with the constant sweat from being "bundled" the Chinese way, she and her clothing are filthy.
---She has slept well each night.  Which isn't that surprising seeing as how much work the grief is all day long.  Co-sleeping is working well for us both.
We head to the orphanage next.  It is not something I'm looking forward to.  But I do think it will be a blessing in the end.


  1. she is beautiful, though. keeping you in my thoughts. - long time reader, first time comment-er.

  2. my heart and prayers are with you all! i can't stop thinking of you. <3

  3. Nancy, my prayers are with sweet Mazie. I am so, so, so sorry your precious girl has to go through this. I know to some degree at least, how helpless you must feel. I cannot say that Brooklyn grieved as much as Mazie at all, but she did scratch herself a lot and still has scars on her body because of it. I still cover her from her neck to her toes at night with clothes because of this behavior.

    I am thinking of your family and sending prayers of comfort and peace your way. I hope you are able to enjoy some of Nanchang while you're there and don't forget to get some pretty porcelain for your precious babe!

  4. Baths: They were bathed in a wash basin so ask the hotel for a baby tub and just sponge bath her. It has taken Elspeth 6 months to tolerate a full out bath.

    Daipers: Has the hotel given you a potty? They used plastic ones shaped like ducks or relieved themselves where they stood. Perhaps this might help with that distress.

    Drinking: Giving Elspeth a chinese tea cup with water and a pair of chopsticks got her drinking. She knew what the cup was and how to use it.

    Orphanage Visit: That was the turning point in Elspeth's acceptance of me. When she was pulled from foster mom's arms and thrust into mine she seemed to perceive it as a sign of acceptance that I was okay. After that she would allow me to hold her for a bit although she still perferred Glenn.
    If you remember, let the foster parents know that Elspeth (QianXiang) is doing well and knows them in a photo. Good luck tomorrow.

  5. So glad you get to visit the orphanage. Poor baby. Expecting and experiencing are always a little different. Glad you are able to sleep at night.

  6. Still praying for your sweet sweet family. God bless you all! She is such a beautiful little girl, I have one about the same age and I cannot even imagine. Fervent prayers are coming your way from Alabama. :)

  7. Oh bless her heart. She is such a darling little girl. I hope things get better soon. That is what we were told "could" happen when we adopted Emma and I was afraid to even kiss her right off the bat for fear of setting of a crying jag that would last for days (which we had heard of happening a lot). However, Emma cried pretty much through the night and only sometimes during the day. She would sleep for a few hours, then wake up and scream and cry. She was terrified and she was also just angry, too, I believe. I forget when the crying through the night stopped. It was a few weeks after our return home I think. She did not cry like Mazie is, though, for sure - during the day. Oh Mazie is such a love - I hope she will find peace with you all soon. God bless.

  8. Prayers for all of you from Florida...

  9. It is so difficult to watch them mourn like this... our daughter was traumatized and screamed for days and clung to her papa 24 hours a day. It does get better. But you will likely see her mourn for months to come. It is great she is attaching to you and you are her comforter.

    Soon she will only know and remember you and your family.

    Take care.

  10. Poor precious baby girl. It's so hard on them, but has to be done. Hoping things are better soon. Blessings

  11. Sweet, sweet baby girl. I'm hurting for her. We will continue to lift you all up to Jesus. Hang in there, mama.
    Much love.
    For His fame~

  12. Reading this post made me think about a song Steven Curtis Chapman wrote in response to their personal journey to China to adopt their daughter Hope. It is called "So far to find you". If you haven't heard it..find it on line and listen. I believe it will minister to you greatly. He wrote this song in response to Hope not wanting anything to do with him for the first 2 weeks. He thought it to be a cultural thing.

    I am praying for you. Glad to hear she is taking nourishment. Love the pictures of you holding her. A mommy pouring into her baby. So precious.

  13. Nancy- Justin and I have been pray, pray, praying for you, your family, and especially sweet Mazie. Your love for her is just tear-jerking to me. I have faith that it will get better! xoxo Brooke

  14. Oh Nancy, this post brings me back. Our daughter grieved so hard as well. The up side is she is attaching BEAUTIFULLY now. I understand crying along with her. Sometimes that is all we can do. I will be lifting you up in prayer as you walk this road of grief with your little one. Praying for God's healing balm to cover and heal those gaping wounds. Praying for your sweet husband as he is allowed to watch but not touch:( Oh sweet Mazie, you are so loved!

  15. Poor baby girl (and Mama and Daddy!)!! Have u tried giving her milk in a sippy cup or regular cup?? She's so sweet and beautiful. Hoping tomorrow she begins to feel more at peace with her new life. She will get there, I am sure of it and she will be blossoming in your care soon!!

  16. That's so utterly heartbreaking. I really feel for you. Our daughter grieved hard and it was SO painful to watch. Just hang on to the knowledge that she was loved very well and that the grieving (as hard as it is) is necessary and healing. Thinking of you and praying for happy days ahead.

  17. Praying for her precious little heart. Thank you for your honesty, those of us getting ready for our little ones need to know. :) Hugs!

  18. Praying for your sweet baby girl and you too. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it is to watch her grieve so and not be able to help in the way you long to.

    I've heard that the orphanage visit is normally a very good thing. It allows them to see those that the know well with their new parents and all are happy together. Allowing your child to be held by the nanny and then the person she trusts handing her back to you helps their little minds realize that those they love trust you so maybe she can too.

    Praying for Papa as he waits for the attachment to begin. I've heard playing little games (when she's abl)e and then Papa quickly interacting for a moment can be helpful.

  19. There's so much I want to say, but all I can think of is that although dear Mazie's grief is overwhelming now, I think of the photo of Jude, wailing in your arms compared to the boy he is now. You all continue to be in our prayers. Sending all our love. xoxoxoxo

  20. she is precious. That last picture also shows how petite she is. It breaks my heart to look at her sad little face, but also, to see the love in your eyes as you console her. I pray that she sees it too and begins to trust it more.

    Yes, so hard on the Dads. Mine was tickled when Jacob fell asleep on his chest one afternoon. Up until then, it was only me in what we called the "monkey hold", climbing as far up me as possible.

    THANKS for the update. I had to come look the first chance I had today.

  21. Oh Nancy,I will be praying for sweet Mazie and for your family. Just makes me so very sad...even though we know she will get better, just so sad for all her emotions, fears....everything. Just remember, God knows exactly what He is doing and will carry you as He already is. Hang in there and thank you so much for sharing. I have a feeling Janie will be so very scared!!! You will have such words of wisdom for me a week later:) Hugs friend!!!!

  22. It must be so difficult for all of you to watch your sweet baby girl be so very sad. I'm praying your visit brings a positive turning point for Mazie. I'm also praying for your strength. It is difficult when one parent is preferred, but we were not dealing with anything like what you are. I can only imagine how tired you must be.

    If you have any cortisone cream, that might relieve the itching that is the result of eczema. It is the only thing that helps us when Maggie has an outbreak.

    Take care. Despite the tears, she looks at home in your arms.

  23. Nancy, all the way from Holland I want to let you know: just hold on!!! Our first china-girl cried over 48 hours loud!!! Rejected me as a mum for weeks... But finally love will overcome that all!!! Just do what you do from the heart. May it comfort you that she miss the one who loved her so much before you came into her life... It is hard... but you have great support even in Heaven!!!

  24. Dear sweet Nancy, it WILL pass. I know I've said it before, but stay strong and at peace, for her!

    I can't help but cry for that little one. I know I never met you and all, but I also know that we are sisters, because both of us are children of God.

    I will make a special prayer for her and all of you again. I KNOW the Lord will help, I just know! He loves us.

  25. Nancy, my heart is aching for you and Mazie. Just yesterday I was sharing with our travel group about our son's grief and I teared up just remembering it--and he was adopted 13 years ago!!! It was the saddest, most mournful cry I have ever heart--he cried for 3 days--just know that we are sending prayers and love to you all.

  26. You're doing great! Grief has to run its course. Foster care was such a blessing for Mazie-- it makes this part tons harder but you'll get through it and she's learning she can count on you.

    WJ was not interested in anything from her father the first few days. She got upset if he stood too close to me. Here we are, a month later, and she would only sleep in his arms last night (she's sick and needs extra comforting). It will come. She'll love her daddy. Right now it's just all too much, but it will come.

    If you need ideas on the eczema let me know. EN had the most severe eczema the pediatrician had ever seen. We've tried (almost) everything and have found what works for EN. Every child is different, but after 8 years, I feel like an eczema expert.

    WJ wouldn't drink much the first couple days either. We had some luck with the warm milk at breakfast and she would drink the broth in soup.

    Hugs and prayers!

  27. Good morning Nancy - I hope and pray that the orphanage visit is the same "flash point" for you as it was with both of ours. We too know that grief - it comes from our kids soul - deeper than any grief we've ever known. But - on both trips - leaving the orphanage with us after our visit was almost like flipping a switch - from that moment on our infant pre-verbal kids seemed to intrinically "know" that they were with their forever familiy...and it was (almost - nothing is ever 'perfect) great ever since!

    One comment - as a Dad - I assure you that your DH, while maybe not "happy" about the rejection - still "get's it" - and is OK with it because he knows full well that once she greives her loss his time will come!

    One suggestion - if you have a sling or carrier with you - make extensive use of it with her - most all the time - with her facing you - not the world. It really does help!

    Holding all you guys in our hearts and prayers! And knowing in my heart of hearts that it will turn (and in the meantime - feeling your pain).

    hugs - aus and co.

  28. It is so so hard to see your child go through that. My daughter didn't grieve so hard, but the bit that she did was crushing. She also stopped taking a bottle, even though it was really all they told us she ate (at 15 months she was still on newborn formula, so I think it just couldn't compete with the nutrition she was getting through baby food we started giving her.) Bottle time might have been her special time with her nanny, so she might be rejecting it simply because of that. As long as she's eating other things, I wouldn't worry too much. She'll get some water in the foods she eats, hopefully you can get her to eat a lot of fruit and get some that way.

    I pray it will get better for her as the days go. I think it will, it might just take awhile.

  29. My heart is just breaking, for all of you. And for my baby girl -- so many memories of such an incredibly traumatic time. I truly can not imagine a better mother to walk this road with beautiful Mazie. Prayers and hugs!

  30. Oh Nancy...praying for all of you and sweet Mazie! I cried many times along with Mia our first few days together. It's gut wrenching to see their little hearts so broken. Sending hugs & hoping you have a good visit to the orphanage!

  31. Oh, how hard it must be for you. We never want our children to hurt or feel pain. To know in your adult mind this is best for her, but to feel that pain for her is overwhelming. Keep the tears flowing Mama, they are very healing for everyone. I can not get over how incredibly cute she is, and her petite little shoulders I see in the pictures, she is scrumptous!

  32. Reading your entry now takes me back...I was the rejected parent. K would scream and scream, for 5 straight hours the first day. She's sit by the door wailing and pounding her fists and yelling for her mama, auntie, baba. She did not smile in pictures for the first 2 months we had her. Like Maize, she ate like a champ and at least she seemed to like the concept of me and food!

    It was simultaneously the hardest and best thing we ever did. I wish you and papa nothing but peace. It was a long 3 months of grieving before K finally opened up to me. Her turning point was seeing a pic of us with her foster family. I wish we had done it sooner, but it was so so hard. I pray that visiting the orphanage helps Maize to begin healing too.

  33. Oh, Nancy, like others, this takes me back to the FOUR days of hard grieving our Josie-Tatum did. But, she didn't cry...until bed time. She would wake in the night and scream and scream. During the day time, she kept a stoic face. We know in our heads that it is part of the process, but the heart hurts.

    Prayers for Papa. It was hard for my DH. Then when we returned for our China, I got see how it felt when our Ellie attached to Baba...and yelled, "Bu yao, Mama!"

    Preparing myself in prayer for next week when we leave to meet our TWO precious sons.....


  34. Nancy, I've been out of touch for a couple of days, packing, wrapping up my work stuff, getting ready to leap to where you are. My heart is aching and my eyes have welled up with tears, reading tonight's post. All of you will surely be in my prayers as you continue this part of your journey.

  35. Father in know the words to speak softly to this sweet babys heart. Please speak peace and comfort in words her heart will begin to undestand. Please giving unending patience and teamwork with her blessed parents. We know you are with them during this time, but our flesh gets weary and we get down. Hold this family closer to you during this rough patch. In your blessed sons' name..AMEN

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, you are very brave.


  36. I'm in China also, right there along with you. My baby girl is grieving hard also, not to the same extent as yours. I agree, you can't fully prepare yourself for this. It's day 4 & our baby girl is doing MUCH better.

    Prayers for your family.

  37. I am so sorry that your sweetheart is grieving so hard. I agree that she must have been so attached to the woman she considered her mama. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes because she reminds me so much of my Avari. We were in China almost 6 yrs ago. Next month is the anniversary of our meething. Avari was almost 14 months old and cried for 3 days and wouldn't let her daddy touch her or couldn't look at him without crying. I was prepared as much as you can be without knowing just what to expect. My daughter cried the loudest and the most out of all the children in our travel group. We had to co sleep for almost 2 years because even with cosleeping she was grabbing and feeling for me in her sleep and if she couldn't feel me she would wake up. Without co sleeping I was getting something like 3 hours a night and that wasn't uninterupted. It will get better but you know that already. I hope your baby can learn to trust you both soon.

  38. I can't remember what day you are/were going to the orphanage, but you guys are in my thoughts. I can only imagine how hard it will be. According to all the comments above, though, I hope it's just what's needed to help Mazie find the comfort she needs in your (and Papa's) arms. All our love.

  39. Matthew 11:28

    I know what you are going through. It is an honor to pray for the peace that your daughter needs right now. You are doing a great job. Remember this is Kingdom work you are doing and we are not meant to figure it out on our own. I've got one that slept on me for months when she came home from China. One that cringed and freaked out if I tried to hold him at all. And one who took 6 months to let me hold him without head butting me and calling me grandma. The one that slept on me is the one that buried deep into my heart the quickest. I hope you have a great day today. I think all this grieving is a good sign that this little one has been and will be rapturously loved!!!!

  40. Many prayers for you and sweet Mazie.

  41. I am so, so behind dear friend. Your daughter is beautiful and I'm glad you are finally together. I'm going to go back and catch up right now. Much love to you. Hang in there, Mama. I can't imagine hkw hard it must be...

  42. I found your blog through Ni'Ha Yall. I am praying God's grace through this difficult time. We were where you are two years ago exactly. It is so hard. God is with you. Your love and His through you are your strength. God be with you to comfort this precious angel.

  43. Oh Nancy! Linhsey still scratches. Every. Single. Day. It's soothing to her. If she is tired or upset she begins right away. It's how she would put herself to sleep in VN. This child has scars all over her body from it. I'm glad Mazie is sleeping. L's sadness came out at night, still does. So she cried and sobbed all night long. I wish I was as educated on adoption as well as you are when I got her. This breaks my heart.

  44. Bless her broken heart. And yours.

    It is all still so fresh for me Nancy. Our Li'l Bit was so broken-hearted too. We were denied the opportunity to visit her SWI (and foster village). Thankfully b/c of LWB I do have some photos of them together and I've started showing her, so you are so wise to get that photo of them together.

    Our older son grieved just as hard. Imagine a 10YO boy with a broken heart sitting in a hallway in the hotel. Imagine our MALE guide crying right alongside me and our boy. Oh have I've been there. But it does get better. I won't say anything is ever ERASED. The scars are always there but the wounds heal.

    I am so thankful two of our four were fostered. It makes all the difference, but the process early on is harder. Now though one of ours who wasn't fostered has so much anger. So I am now rambling and my little baby girl needs to be velcroed to me again (that is where we are now), so I gotta wrap it up but you are doing everything right and your girl is just sad. And she just needs to let it all out. And thankfully you are there to allow her to do it.

    Big Hugs!

  45. Nancy ,
    I have to say so much for your honesty in your posts. I have read the books, and some blogs, but your photos and writing really portray the grief and reality of these children. I showed them to my husband and mom, and son, as we will be traveling in April. I wanted them to 'get it' and be somewhat prepared.
    You are an incredibly strong and insightful woman, and I believe your beautiful daughter is just like you.
    We will be praying for you all for some peace and sunshine... It is just around the corner.


  46. Nancy ,
    I have to say THANK YOU
    so much for your honesty in your posts. I have read the books, and some blogs, but your photos and writing really portray the grief and reality of these children. I showed them to my husband and mom, and son, as we will be traveling in April. I wanted them to 'get it' and be somewhat prepared.
    You are an incredibly strong and insightful woman, and I believe your beautiful daughter is just like you.
    We will be praying for you all for some peace and sunshine... It is just around the corner.


  47. About the bottle, don't give up. Our Li'l Bit refused it in China but she loves it now. I will say I wasn't getting it warm enough over there. When people say HOT, they mean it. I have gradually made it more warm than hot for obvious reasons, but anyway, once we got here I was able to get her to take a bottle. She still wants to hold it, but just tonight we had such great eye contact and sweet, precious time with her bedtime bottle!

    I do hope and pray things continue to get better and better each day.

  48. This post makes me choke with pain. Suddenly everything rushes back - our time spent with the orphans in Africa, my time spent teaching children in Asia, and especially my Korean sister adopted at 4 months of age. And then my own babies - the thought of them confronting something so foreign.

    It all just hurts so much.

    Please forgive this "suggestion" because you are her mother and definitely know what's best, but there is a strong school of thought in France based on a child psychologist called Fran├žoise Dolto. She said that you have to explain to children everything even if they're "supposed to be too young to understand" or in your case "lacks the English skills to understand." She assures, and the French firmly believe that the children do indeed understand.

    Have you explained why she is adopted and help her put words to her feelings? Again, please forgive the intrusion, but I put it out there just in case it's helpful to you.

  49. Wow...just, wow. We were dealing with the same endless grief at the same time in March. Our new son was removed from his former foster mother (the only mother he'd ever known) and dropped in our living room within an hour. Like you, I was so prepared for everything else except the deep, excruciating mourning. We are also at a better place comes in the morning.


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