If you haven't read PART 1 of our sweet girl's story, would you please do so. Reading it will help you to better understand part 2 ;)
I have shared all of this detail because I have talked to so many families that are currently struggling with very similar situations with their babes. Our greatest prayer in sharing all of this is that our sweet girl’s life will help other families find the help they need for their children.
When did we realize it was more than just being newly home…more than attachment, bonding, grieving? I would have to say looking back; our first glimpse was in
when we were leaving her province in . We were in the airport…a loud, very crowded,
smoky, dark airport. I tried to give her a little Benadryl for the flight (yes,
I’m one of ‘those’ mom’s) and she spiraled into a massive screaming meltdown. A
meltdown that lasted for 1 hour…a meltdown that caused a huge crowd of people
to surround us…Chinese women trying to take her from me…Chinese men shaking
their heads scolding us, scolding her, blowing cigarette smoke…it was unreal.
We were texting home “pray…please pray…we don’t know what’s wrong but it’s
bad.” Thankfully she fell asleep as we boarded the plane and slept the whole
way to Kunming . We saw this same type of meltdown right after
we came home. It was our son’s birthday and we took him to the bowling alley to
celebrate. Massive meltdown #2! Guangzhou
Going to Costco or Target would cause HUGE meltdowns…as soon as we would leave a party or play date, we were guaranteed a meltdown…Home 3 months…we knew something wasn’t right. We sought help from a local International Adoption Doctor who said he felt confident she was bonding and attaching in a healthy way. He noted that she had pretty significant hypotonia (lack of muscle tone) and SPD but he felt it would get better with time sooooo, we tried waiting it out. I did daily exercises with her to try and help her gain strength and muscle tone. Home 6 months, no better…Home 9 months…she was not getting better, she was getting worse! We were guaranteed middle of the night screaming for a minimum of 45 minutes and afternoon meltdowns, too. We were at a loss. I kept thinking, ‘This is not my first baby. She is our 5th for goodness sake…why can’t I help her…what am I doing wrong…why is this still so hard…is it always going to be like this…how can we help her’.
In the darkest time, I would cry out to the Lord as my baby girl thrashed in my arms. “Lord, I love this sweet one so much…please show us how to help her…please help me not to detach…please help her not to detach from us.” The constant rejection for this very, very sleep deprived mama was so hard…everything about me was weary. Thankfully joy comes in the morning and when the sun would rise, we would start afresh.
We trekked back to the IA doctor at 1 year home. He gave us the same diagnosis but this time he encouraged us to have her evaluated by a physical and occupational therapist. We did this immediately! Both the ot and pt agreed…hypotonia, spd, & major safety awareness issues…there was also concern that something deeper neurologically was going on but only time in therapy would uncover that. So, we immediately began therapy 2 times a week. I was on the heels of the therapists every session…asking questions, begging them to show me what to do at home. All the while, our hopes of finally having found help for our girl were being dashed. She was getting worse not better. Therapy two times a week was just enough to shake up her neurological system. During all of this, we took her to see a neurologist whose evaluation was a joke! He told me to have her walk to him…he watched her walked, checked her reflexes, and said there was nothing wrong; she was perfectly healthy. I still wonder if he saw the steam coming out of my ears!!
We were going backwards…farther from where we started. I was constantly searching for answers…everything came back as SPD and treatment was OT and PT…but that wasn’t working!!!!
Then the Lord showed us His plan for help…it was through a Christian neurodevelopmentalist. Yeah, I had never heard of one before eitherJ. After talking with the ND, Marilee, we took her in for an extensive assessment. We chose not to tell Marilee all of sweet girl’s quirks because we wanted to see what the ND would see. As we watched Marilee work with our girl, it was all this mama could do not to burst into tears…she could see our girl…she could see her difficulties…and the Lord was going to use her to help us help our girl. She confirmed the previous hypotonia and spd diagnosis we had received. Marilee developed a ‘program’ for us to do at home with her. The program consisted of many types of exercises that would help retrain sweet girl’s brain and neurological system to communicate properly.
We immediately began her daily ‘program’ and watched as her little body fought this daily work. The first 2 weeks were really difficult…her little system was definitely fighting the work we were trying to do but then….after the 2 week mark some amazing things started to happen…her meltdowns were not lasting as long…we were learning to help teach her to regulate out of of her meltdowns…she was starting to sleep a little better. ‘Could this really be happening…after almost 2 years, could she actually be getting better?’ We continued with her program for a year…she continued to improve greatly. Some days she liked doing her therapy and other days she didn’t but all we knew is that the Lord was healing her through these exercises.
Fast forward…she continued to improve so we were ultimately able to take her off of program. Her meltdowns had become a thing of the past…she was sleeping well (still waking up once to climb into our bed but no crying). We’ve had times of regression but never back to the extreme that those first 2 years were. We’ve learned to understand her triggers…she’s learned to self regulate and communicate better.
We have recently experienced a huge regression with her and we are beginning her program back up with the hopes that it will help. This last year has brought some huge changes to our household and I think her little system is a tad overwhelmed with her very loud, very busy new brother and the attention that her new baby sister requires.
We are confident that God placed our miracle girl perfectly in our family. We are confident that He alone has equipped us to raise this precious girl. We will continue to trust His perfect plan and guidance in raising our sweet treasure. Many days are very hard and we aren’t sure what to do to help her but the Lord promises us that HIS strength is OUR strength so we will continue to be filled with His strength to help our girlie.
To our sweet girl,
Baby...we love you so much and have no doubt that you were created to be ours. We have no doubt that the Lord perfectly placed you in our family to be our precious daughter. You are wonderfully and fearfully made by the Creator of the Universe...you are beautifully made in His image. He is using your life in mighty, mighty ways and we are so honored to be your mommy and daddy. You are the joy of our lives. The journey to bring you home was incredible and it changed our lives so deeply. You have taught us to enjoy and cherish every single moment. You have taught us to fight like crazy...you are so strong. God has HUGE, MIGHTY plans for your life. We love you sweet babe!!!
A few tools:
If you feel you may have a child with SPD tendencies, here are a few resources...
~DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets (be watching my blog for an incredible GIVEAWAY from DreamCatcher's)
~The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz (an absolute MUST READ if you have ANY inkling that your sweet child might have some sensory issues...what an eye opener this book is...I honestly feel this should be a must read for ALL adoptive families!!)
~Karin Purvis' website and her book The Connected Child