In the fifth, and last of our series, we present the edited diary of Mary Ella, who is in Korea with her husband Wayne, adjusting to finally having their little daughter in their charge.
Day 6, continued
I had asked Mrs. Kang if the children have a tough time adjusting. She told me it was true sometimes, but she thought that Hee Young would be okay and that if we had any problems we could call her day or night. I sensed she might be wrong on her assessment, having witnessed a bond so strong between this foster mother and child. My first instinct as Leelee’s mother turned out to be correct.
The rest of the day was spent trying to comfort this grieving child. For most of the day, she would not look us in the eye--she was inconsolable. I was becoming concerned, as she had not taken a bottle or had a wet diaper. We had also been told that she loved bathing twice a day. So we gave that a try, but it didn’t help. When I was drying her off, I noticed that the towel covering her eyes soothed her. How obvious! She was not capable of shutting us out on her own--she needed that physical separation. Eventually, she slipped off for a record two-and-a-half hour sleep with the towel giving her distance from her new world. When she wakened she was happy with us for about 15 minutes, and then she needed to shut down again. We did this dance until bedtime.
After the sun went down, we decided to take her for a walk. We knew she enjoyed being outside. We took her to a fountain nearby, and just sat with her in the Baby Bjorn, watching and listening to the water. She settled in easily and cuddled her head to my chest. We were making progress. By the end of the walk, she slipped off into sleep again--a sign that her trust in us was growing.
My heart broke for her broken heart. I wished I could give her a glimpse into our happy future. But this was a part of the journey we would have to take to make it so. I do not feel offended, or put off in any way, that my little girl is behaving in this manner. I am almost grateful that she is capable of this depth of feeling, and that she has been given something to grieve over. We will work our way past this, and she will be better off in the end, for having this loving start in life.
I’m so thankful we stayed the extra day. We had asked for Mrs. Kang’s advice on that. She was right to suggest we stay two days.
Leelee has slept much more than we were told she would. Mrs. Ra said in her instructions that she sleeps very little. Either what we heard was incorrect, or that’s her way of dealing with the grief. She did not eat much, and her consistent daily bowel movement has still not arrived. Though she didn’t cry as much, she was still having a hard time.
We took her for a walk, to run a couple of errands. I love having her so close to me in the Baby Bjorn; she seems to love it too. We have been stopped many times for people to look at her and occasionally they’ll ask. “Is she your baby?” We have been humbly thanked many times. I began to understand why. These children are almost considered a blemish to society. Pregnancy out of wedlock is shameful, and the resulting child is shunned. In that way, we have certainly made her life easier. But we feel strongly that we should be the grateful ones. She has fulfilled our dreams.
The other day I had asked Mrs. Kang if she had gotten my note that we would like to meet the birth mother. She said that birthmom was not interested. I had thought it might provide her with some closure, and give her some peace, knowing her child will be loved well. I also wanted her to know that she will always be welcomed in our lives. We want Leelee to have the opportunity to know her later. That opportunity will be provided by the agency here. They will take any correspondence we would like her to have. It’s up to her.
Leelee is a busy little girl in sleep and in waking time. She is very interested in taking it all in. She is excellent at communicating her needs. There was only one time yesterday that I felt she needed to shut me out. I was feeding her a bottle--one of the few times she was actually taking it. Her head was in an awkward position, facing away from me. I wanted to have eye contact during this intimate act. When I brought her bottle toward me and she saw my face, she absolutely lost it--that same sad cry we had heard most of the day before. I quickly covered her eyes, and she calmed right down and finished her meal.
At some point during the day, she finally became comfortable enough with us to let her bodily functions become normal again. It was a relief. That night we all slipped away into dreamland cuddling close again. We had made so much progress that day; now she seemed to really enjoy and need our snuggles. It will be interesting to see how she reacts to Willem tomorrow. We miss him sorely and can’t wait to introduce him to his little sister.
Our final entry!
We have made a strong connection to this place. This was an amazingly important trip for so many reasons. It far exceeded our expectations in every way. We look forward to many trips back over the years and seeing even more of this incredible country.
People say our little girl is lucky. I don’t see that to be the case at all. How fortunate are we to have this special being come to our family, how wonderful the “baggage” that she has brought with her to share with us. We are all enriched by her existence. I thank God for trusting in our abilities to do her justice.
See ya at home. We’ll be the ones with the gigantic ear-to-ear grins!
Read more in the Diary of an Intercountry Adoptive Mom series.