Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Gotchya Day! 3 years now...

Yes it's been a year since my last blog post. And I'm wracked with guilt! Life is so busy it's hard to find time otherwise... But I'm here and I have a lot to say about the last 365 days.

It's interesting reading my last post because it feels like a million years ago. And it strikes a nerve because even then, I had no idea the Attachment work we still had ahead of us. I was on the right track back then, I knew our child was still struggling with feeling secure and grounded, but we were still lost on how to accomplish this. So after a few more months of Zaleeya's behavior going back and forth, we finally decided to seek out real help. Qualified help in the form of an Attachment Specialist. If I had only know our therapist exisited, we would have gotten help earlier. But alas this is a Journey, and one we needed to embark on.

In March of this past year we started working more on our attachment issues. Turns out Zaleeya symptoms (tantrums, transition issues, defiant behavior, lack of eye contact, inability to sleep easily) were textbook. I felt like I had really tried to be concerned about "Attachment" but didn't exactly know what that meant. So our therapist taught us games for eye contact. She worked on Zaleeya's expression of her feelings (are you sad, mad, glad or scared?). We moved her to a big girl bed large enough for mom and dad to sleep with her every night while she falls asleep. We fed her a bottle- yes I know! A bottle to a 3 year old which still works wonders if we are having a rough day. I quit my management job, cut back on my work hours, and committed to staying at home with her 2 full days a week.

Low and behold, within a week we saw a MAJOR difference. For the first time in years, I felt the sensation of her hugging me, relaxing into me, and actually falling asleep in my arms. Her morning objections to go to school subsided considerably. She started to actually progress at lightening speed at school. A lot of her transition issues and sensory processing issues reduced and barely affect us anymore.

But honestly, more importantly, we as parents feel more attached. We know how to solve a challenging day (which are far fewer in between). We aim not to over schedule. We work on eye contact every day. We say I love you all the time and feed each other often. We're happier as a family and we even went on a family vacation... something Azeem and I couldn't imagine doing a year ago.

At school she received high marks from her teacher in her communication skills, her ability to sit and focus, her team player skills and sharing, and her leadership potential. We couldn't believe our ears! It's amazing when hard work pays off.

The biggest payoff for me was her 4th birthday party. I went a little overboard and hired a princess and invited a ton of kids. She handled it with amazing grace! She made eye contact with me from far and smiled ear to ear when she saw her princess. She used her manners, greeted her guests and followed all the house rules. Mom and Dad marked it as a major milestone of development and we couldn't have been prouder. Who knew the power we had as parents to affect change in our child! It's been an incredible learning experience.

So now for some the exciting stuff. Here is what she is into and loves right now, at age 4 (and 2 months):

Rapunzal is her favorite movie and character. She loves to tie any rope/ scarf to the back of her dress and pretend of have long hair. Today she sang "Wondering and Wondering when will my life begin!"

Her speech is amazing. She will say "actually mommy..." and use the word appropriately. She asks a TON of questions and is inquisitive about everything. "Why? Why? But mommy "because" is not an answer!"

She LOVES Ziggy still and wants to take him everywhere. On our way back from our family vacation, she said "Daddy please drive a little faster and don't bump any cars. I need to get home to my doggie Ziggy".

She is in dance class at school and wakes up with enthusiasm on Wednesdays since she knows its "dance class day!!"

She is incredibly tactile and likes to finger paint (any paint becomes nail polish by the way), play with soap, hand sanitizer and hand lotion. She loves to play with water and will now use wipes and stuff to clean (sometimes helpful!) She really enjoys playing with things that are NOT toys and figuring out what to do with them. I'll find random containers or bags filled with other random things. If something is missing in the house, chances are she got a hold of it.

She loves to sing and now knows all the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame and Jamaica Farewell. Sometimes in the car she will humm and sign and pretend to know the words to a song. We will dance together all the time, even in the grocery store.

She is beginning to enjoy riding her big girl bike (with training wheels). She is good at hopping and skipping and is starting to learn to throw a ball. She doesn't have an interest yet in soccer... but daddy will be working on that one soon!

Her favorite friends at school and at home and at school, are all adopted (yes bizarre!). We network alot with adoptive families, but we still think she has a 6th sense about this. She is in a phase now where she has a new best friend every day and is getting better at meeting new friends.

Food wise she LOVES her mac and cheese, kix, cheese, crackers, frosting and cotton candy! So nutritious I know.

Her favorite TV shows are Backyardigans, Dora, Diego, Max and Ruby, and Umizoomi. And we dance to the Fresh Beat Band songs everyday.

Lastly, and more importantly, we really do believe Zaleeya is one of the most intuitive children we've ever met. She will give us feedback on someone immediately by meeting them. She helped us pick out a babysitter (from numerous interviews) who turns out to have a lot in common with us. And the biggest proof to date happened last night. At 2am (2:30pm Kolkata time) she woke up in an inconsolable nightmare. This was the exact time 3 years ago we left her children's home. Bizarre.

Anyhow I'll post a few pictures in another entry. But thanks for following and as always, I hope my honest thoughts help someone else in their adoption journey.

We love you lil Z!

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