Friday, November 2, 2012

Update on Mei Mei : The Power of the Human Spirit to Adapt and Overcome!

I've been wanting to write an update about Mei Mei for some time and yet, it's hard to find the words.  Mei Mei's journey has been complicated, yet simple.  And just when I think I'm finding some clarity, everything goes out the window and a new door opens! 

Mei Mei has now been with us for eight months.  Her transition has been the easiest of all our kids;  her special needs the most difficult--and yet not.  It honestly feels like so much longer because it has been such an unusual, emotional, complicated journey--one that began with trepidation, fear, and questions that had no answers. 

When we first brought Mei Mei home we desperately sought answers--and, in the end, found few.  Mei Mei was ever so sweet.  She loved to mimic, and laugh, and tease, and simply be included in everything!  She wanted to try everything!  She was curious and inquisitive.  She was smart.

Mei Mei's development was all over the place.  Socially, she was like a toddler, but her gross motor was advanced.  She was strong and learned to ride a two-wheeler bike in one day, yet her fine motor was that of a 3 year-old.  She didn't know how to draw, write her name, use scissors, or count.  Actually, she could count to thirteen, but she didn't understand the concept of numbers. 

As always, I struggle with how much to share.  I want to protect my child's privacy.  But I also want to share with the hope of helping someone else walking in our shoes-- Especially someone who will arrive in their child's birth country and discover their child has similar special needs.  Without going into too much detail I will just say that Mei Mei had some bizarre behaviors.  If someone saw her in the grocery store they would see a child acting age appropriate one moment and then appearing very cognitively impaired the next.

Early on we tried to find professionals who might give us more clarity--providers knowledgeable of adoption and the outcome of neglect.  We wanted to be able to access services for Mei Mei, especially in school. 

Let me just say that was not a good idea.  I could write an entire book on why, but let's make it a short story and say that there are no professionals or tests that can diagnose/predict/label an adopted-and-recently-immigrated-non-English-speaking-high-anxiety-child, who fits into Mei Mei's category of neglect. 

Unfortunately, there are professionals who think they can.     

In the end, we knew that the only way to find answers would be to wait and see, filling her life with love, and education, and experiences.  We were (and are) fully prepared that Mei Mei might have learning challenges, while also believing that anything is possible.  She blows our socks off, on a daily basis, as the real Mei Mei shines through. 

And now?  Just eight months home, our sweet Mei Mei, who could not even draw a face or use scissors, can create this!

She has learned all her letters and their sounds, can write them all, and is READING HER FIRST WORDS!  She can write her brother's and sister's names by heart!  She can count to 100 (with a little help), add and subtract single digit numbers, make patterns, do puzzles, tie her shoes, and play board games! 

Her English is phenomenal!  We realized early on that her Chinese language was limited, now she speaks paragraphs in English and is always asking questions!  Many times, she will ask the same question over and over, which originally confused and concerned us.  Now, we realize she only does this when she is worried that we might change our mind (trust issues) or she's hoping for a better answer (normal kid!). 

Mei Mei is still so very sweet, and fun, and excited about life! 

She is becoming more relaxed, less anxious.  She loves playing outside and is very athletic.

She is still learning to navigate peer relationships and learn the social skills needed, but she rarely falls back into the quirky behaviors she originally presented with.  She loves school!  (She is also homeschooled part-time, but she wants to go to "real" school full time!)

She loves being with family, and having so many siblings, cousins and relatives!

She is still super attached to her daddy--a daddy's girl through and through!

She is relaxing around me more and more.  She is still tentative, but no longer afraid, and she talks to me non-stop.  She has yet to tell me that she loves me (tho she tells me how much she loves her daddy all the time!), but sometimes she will surprise me like on this day when I said I was making Chinese food for dinner and she literally jumped into my arms! 

I guess I should make Chinese food more often!

Mei Mei is an incredible blessing!  To know her is to love her!  She is the poster child for RESILIENCE!  I literally get tears in my eyes when I think about what she has overcome, and what a blessing she is to our entire family! 

We love her.

And she loves being loved! 

That's what adoption is all about!


Anonymous said...

AND don't you know that her being loved just shines through her whole face. What a difference in her 'just home' pictures and her pictures now!!!! LOVE,LOVE,LOVE your fam! Coll

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

Love that your heart and hers are growing together. Your honesty is awesome!

amber said...

Thanks for making me cry happy tears today.... great post! Watching Mei Mei is like watching a flower unfold on one of those instant videos - a tiny little bud opening up her blooms so quickly!

Ronnie said...

Our 14 yo has been home for 7 months. She seems so much like Mei Mei from what you describe. We have seen all sorts of specialists and no one can tell us why she is how she is. We are afraid to put her in school due to her bizarre behaviors, but homeschooling has been a challenge too. I'd love to swap stories and maybe together we can find some answers and if not, perhaps just some support from others traveling the same road.

Sammy said...

I totally agree with what you said about the schools and the experts. With adoption, they even do it with kids that have no learning disabilities. They give them tests and within a year or less expect they can perform like a child that has been here forever. I do not believe people should have their child tested for a long time after they have been in the states. I haven't found anyone qualified to do that as of yet, but the schools still try. : - )