Monday, January 30, 2012

And so it continues....

If you didn’t read my post, yesterday scroll back and get an idea of what’s going on. I’ve been seeking answers about Sidney. And in the last 24 hours, I have witnessed how quickly information and answers are accessed through friends, forums, and FaceBook. I’ve been given a ton of information. There’s a connectedness in the China program, and between adoptive parents, in general. It was the validation and understanding I need. And for the most part, it was nice to not hear my favorite response to anything concerning attachment or sensory issues. “Isn’t that just a 3 year old thing?” Insert the sound bite of me screaming. 
My scientist demonstrating.
I received a ton of information from other China parents in the same situation. My motivation seeking information was obviously to make things easier for Sidney but also, because this particular issue is typically misdiagnosed as autism. However, only about 20% of kids with sensory issues actually fall on the autism spectrum.  I’m relieved, we are starting to figure all of this out before she’s any older.  Yes, she could grow out of some of it, but there are still a lot of 6-8 yr olds with the same issues. So, if we figure out the best way to work with it, all the better.  

 On the way to school today, we had our regular talk. “Try to stay on your square. Don’t interrupt Mrs H. while she’s talking to the class. Try not to pick and poke your friends. And you know, it’s not appropriate to tackle other kids.” Only today, our conversation changed. Instead I said, “sweetie, is it hard not to touch the other kids sometimes?” Sidney paused and said, “mommy, I can’t help it.” OK, we are headed in the right direction.

Mom = You WILL let me take a picture together!
Wow! That was heavy stuff. So, I’ll continue posting some of the ideas I have received in the coming days.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Amazing and Complex Girl

I’ve started writing this post many different times over the last couple of months, but I couldn’t decide how to explain. I couldn’t figure out how to write about our experience, because joy and happiness trump the complexities in Sidney’s behavior. I didn’t want it to overshadow all we have overcome.  Yet, my objective has always been to share openly. Not everything is cute photos and fun. Sorry to be Debbie downer, but I want my blog to be real. So, our flowers are not staying in the attic. Here we go. 

Over summer, we enrolled Sidney in summer preschool. She is ahead of her 3 years. She is amazingly smart, and she needed the challenge. So, off she went. Her teachers reported back, she was quiet, followed directions, and did a good job. Without hesitation, we enrolled her in fall preschool 3 days per week. In the 6 months since, she has grown to love the program. 

After a couple of weeks, we started receiving reports from the teacher. She has difficulty keeping her hands to herself, and her behavior typically regresses during down time, like standing in line or carpet time. She isn’t mean, she has the need to pick and poke and touch the other kids. We’ve tried putting her in the back of the line, moving her carpet square, and it hasn’t relented. Before I get ahead of myself, I know we are talking about 3 year old preschool and much of it is learning appropriate behavior in an educational environment. I also want to interject, if she’s completing work, she stays on task, and her work is beautiful. Tom and I are shocked at the level of work she completes. Her coloring is almost perfect. However, the contrasts in behavior are sounding alarms.

After talking with other adoptive parents and doing a ton of reading, Tom and I are comfortable in acknowledging Sidney has post-traumatic stress. This is no surprise. It’s obvious most kids with any time in an orphanage are impacted to some degree.  Sensory integration dysfunction is part of post-traumatic stress. Neglect is powerful, and the impact of neglect on a developing brain is profound. In basic terms, she wasn’t touched or held enough as a baby, so her brain is attempting to make up for the lack of stimulation. This kind of behavior typically plays out in the first years of preschool. And if it’s ignored, it gets worse.

So, what do we do? I am searching out sensory activities to see if it eases her symptoms. We are starting in a practical manner. I’m not calling professionals. Other adoptive parents will understand, adoptive parents have a hard time staying on the same page as medical professionals. Of course, this doesn’t mean always. I’ve seen knowledgeable medical professionals floundering for answers. I’m comfortable in trying to work with her first. Of course, I’m not entirely stubborn. If we need guidance, we will seek it out.  

It breaks my heart to think all of this is the result of something so completely preventable. But, I continue to maintain an attitude of privilege – the privilege of helping her heal. I’m also trying not to let my mind go 100 mph, thinking about the spring. In April, we have another consult with the hand surgeon. If it’s absolutely necessary, we will make revisions to the scar tissue on her hand, but if there’s any chance we can wait another year, we will do so. A lot of healing, emotionally, is taking place. I feel like all this fight, inside Sidney, is helping her turn a corner. I don’t want to go in the opposite direction. If we must, then we will deal with the situation through lots of prayer.

So, this is what’s up, and I will continue to update the blog as we seek answers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

I uttered the words Chinese New Year, and my good friend Jill was a buzz of creative energy. We showed up with red envelopes and picked up Chinese. She was responsible for the fun!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Brave Girl

It’s -6F. Yesterdays, daytime temperature was 5F. Almost toasty warm enough, I could step outside with the kids after 20 minutes of bundling for 10 minutes of snow fun. My only oasis is my almost daily indoor pool lap swim. It’s 90 degree heat seems like an island paradise until I exit and the automatic doors burst open with icy cold air. 

Yesterday, there a snow storm, causing a school cancellation. Cabin bound kids typically create an environment of stored energy, but they both enjoyed a day minus running. And something strange happened. Sidney doesn’t discuss China, period. She shuts down. “No, no, China.” If there’s a meter for post-traumatic stress, she definitely registers
Yesterday, she thumbed through her DVD’s. “I want China, Mommy.” Our adoption video typically plays out in one of the two following scenarios or both. Sidney asks to watch the video twice. Into the second time, she jumps up and snaps it off. “No more China.” Many times, watching the video is met with night terrors. Luckily, last night this was not the case. Instead, she watched, waiting for me to give the details as the story played out. She played the video four times with no nightmares last night. And yes, I was about to fall asleep by the fourth time, but I will let her watch it as many times as she wants.

This progress makes sense in the scheme of our week. A conversation lead up to Sidney asking to see photos of herself in China. We received photos from Half the Sky a few months after travel. They are precious. Sidney was delighted to see herself small as a baby. She looked at the Half the Sky staff quizzically as I explained they were her friends. Any association with Chinese people has been met with a negative reaction. We have to preface anything about Chinese people with, “they are good China.” I was pleased to see her smiling as we looked through the pictures. She had a night terror, but she was easily comforted back to sleep.

So, I know it’s time to move forward with making her lifebook. I started doing digital scrapbooking last winter, and I want to create an A,B,C book. So, ask me if it’s done next year. 

OK, off to start my Saturday. It’s supposed to reach a balmy 10 today. We are hoping it’s warm enough for sledding. I’ll let you know if there are any broken bones.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Tonight we were counting from a Dora book Grandma JeanJean gave Sidney for Christmas. Sidney started peeling back her fingers….1….2…..3…..”I can’t go any farther, because I just have little hands.” There was no trepidation, no emotion, just a matter of fact statement of the obvious.

Tom wonders if she understands her hands won’t grow into a five fingered hand. Like many other things growing up, we will let her realize this in her own time. For now, she’s only aware of the casts she had. Her typical response (and the only time she’s allowed to use the word hate) is “I hate cast!!!!” And I look across the room at Eli cringing. Yes, he’s sympathetic about his sisters need for reconstructive surgeries, however he is thinking of the pain involved in receiving an accidental strike from the fiberglass cast. I have to admit, I’ve been on the receiving end, and I almost saw stars.

In April, we will determine if there is a next step in treating her hands. Scar tissue is causing her finger to remain in a bent position. This is the hand which originally had syndactyly between two of her three fingers. As much as I want to leave her hands completely alone, given how well she functions, I know we can’t leave her finger in a permanently bent position. 

OK, off to scrounge up some dinner. I'm freezing. Sidney and I spent the day in small increments going outside. There's no keeping your kids indoors when snow awaits. And that means mom is outside too, so she is beat.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Eli finished a book with over 700 pages last night (Harry Potter). I want to take the book into the public school and slide it across the desk of the school principal. This isn’t where we started the year before kindergarten. I received a phone call at 9:30pm one night front the principal. Eli might be better off in a prek class. He stood and asked a lot of questions during kindergarten round up. He wasn’t able to recite his address. There was no understanding of how being a in a strange environment might impact his ability to complete a standardized assessment. Mama bear (as my neighbor girl as come to refer to me), kicked in. I knew my child better, and it’s one of a million times I am so happy I went with my gut instincts.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, all right!!!

I’ve talked a lot about Sidney and her sad pad sitting, boundary pushing, crazy behavior. That’s why today was utterly shocking. Things might change overnight, but for now, I’m going to bask for a little while in the glory of a girl that’s learning to listen! So many times, my stubborn spicy girl, listened, hearing me tell her firmly and in a calm tone not to do something, yet she continued. It typically required getting down to her level and repeadily upping the anti until she finally did what was asked.

Imagine my surprise today to hear her while being told not to do something, saying “oh awl white” (oh, all right!). Kind of like, I know I am going to have to do what you say anyway, so let’s just get it overwith. Something is sinking in. My mom, my common sense, practical mom, said “don’t you think she will outgrow this?” I think we are seeing a bit of a breakthrough. If it changes tomorrow, we are still on the right path. Awesome!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I signed Sidney up for 4 yr old preschool today. Instead of feeling sad about how quickly the last two years passed, I was thrilled. Education is a reminder God’s will was certainly different for our daughter than the first 16 months of her life.
Eli's standing in  front of the crowd during his Boy Scout cake auction. His version of the moon raised $60 for his pack.

While I sat tediously filling out the many forms required, I noticed the dreaded disability question. I have to remind myself Sidney is considered special needs, so I thought about leaving it blank. In fairness to the school, I know it’s medically necessary. Fast forward to the portion asking if her disability limited her in doing anything, my answer was a resounding no. I think the pictures below are proof positive; we are not concerned about her ability to function in an educational environment.

Waiting to tumble. Hey mom, why did you forget to fix my pant leg?
It’s funny, this word (disability) has come up twice this week. As I sat talking about Sidney with another parent, we discussed how far Sidney has come in the last couple years, and her VERY big personality. There’s a lot packed into 36 inches. With this very big personality, it’s easy to forget she has anomalies. But, I know not everyone lives in our world. They don’t have the luxury of simply forgetting it’s part of her makeup, but it has no bearing on our everyday life. Maybe that’s why I don’t like hearing the word roll off peoples tongue so easily. And bless her heart, she’s really nice. There was no ill intent, but I will be honest in saying, I can’t stand the word. 

Sorry, I was back on my soapbox. Time to tune back into D*ance M*ms. I would like to see the teacher do a couple of routines. People pay for that? Sorry, I’ve only tuned in a couple of times before tonight. Now it’s totally sucking me in.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I am going to stand on my soapbox for a couple of seconds. If you’re an adult, make sure your current on your immunizations. My kids both came into contact with some friends carrying pertussis. You know, the double over and cough so hard you throw up illness. Luckily, in my 37 years, I haven’t had to experience anything like my parents describe. My mom shared, as a kid she spent the majority of a summer on the farm doubled over coughing so hard she threw up. So, with that thought, I gladly went to the doctor to update my immunization. I always think of Sidney and Eli but not Tom and I. Sidney wanted to know if I might receive a sticker for taking my shot like a good girl. So, I got the shot, but Sidney got the stickers. But not before, she dug a sticker out for her brother. She is one of the most selfless kids I know. From day one, she’s tried to share everything in her possession, from bites of food to stickers, to anything else. She never sits down with a treat without first offering it to everyone else in the room. It’s one thing I hope she never loses from her life in China.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Much as I hoped, down time was awesome over the holidays. It meant extra time for mom to read a couple of books. I’ve heard such positive information on “The Connected Child,” so I am in the middle of reading it.  I am not typically one to jump on the bandwagon with suggested book titles, but it’s helping me to sort out Sidney’s behavior, as well as broaden my understanding of neglect and its profound impact on a developing mind. It’s a relief to better understand we are headed in the right direction as we navigate new situations in daily life.
One sniplet left from Christmas...when your husband insists you pose for a photo wearing ALL your Christmas gifts!
Today, in preschool, I noticed Sidney’s name was moved to a different square on the carpet as I discussed with the teacher before break. She’s sitting in the back corner next to the teacher’s assistant. This means, she doesn’t have anyone within reach. Standing in line, or sitting on the carpet square listening to the teacher, or really any down time between activities, is hardest. She tends to pick at the kids around her. It’s never intentionally hurtful, but she lacks the ability to completely understand body basics. I don’t think our situation differs much from other families raising children with a similar history. 

Tonight, as Sidney sat in her footie pj’s with the feet cut off so she can feel the floor, and prevent slips and falls with her limb difference; I asked her “do you know what mommies going to do with this?” I showed her my hand. “I’m going to take a little bit of tough from here, a little bit of cantankerousness from here, and a little bit of sassy” I said as I tickled her behind the knees and in her armpits, listening as she squealed in laughter, “and you’re going to be great! It’s going to be hard work, but we’re going to get there. Your great now, and I think when mommy and daddy are done taking away these little pieces, you’re going to be amazing!”