Has it really been 8 months since we touched down in OKC late late late and after more than 30 hours of traveling??? Well, it has!
Ruth has been with her forever family for three-fourths of a year, and let me just say that our life has been nothing like what I thought it would be. First, because Ruth has had almost no trouble adjusting to her new world, and two because I’m still navigating having a second child and truly understanding how it’s not only possible, but normal, to have different characteristics in multiple mother-child relationships.
But first, let’s talk about this cutie-patootie and how much she’s GROWN in eight whole months! Obviously, she’s grown physically. When we picked her up from Precious Pearls orphanage she was just a smidge shorter than Allen. Like, a smidge. I don’t even know if I could have measured it accurately. Now, she’s a good inch and a half taller than Allen! Maybe two! The girl is all legs, I’m telling ya. all legs and elbows and limbs flailing everywhere as daddy chases her around the house!
And it’s still a little funny to watch her run with those spindly legs. Her physical therapy is still going well, we have appointments just one day a month and Ruth continues to gain strength and confidence as she consistently wears her corrective orthotics. We aren’t sure how long she will have to wear them, but the inward turning of her ankles is still very noticeable, so it might be for a few more years. Kids grow fast, and every time Ruth outgrows her shoe size we will need another new pair of orthotics to go along with them. Talk about expensive kids’ shoes! But it’s clearly helping and she is progressing well!
We had a few firsts- first trip to the dentist and first (four) cavities. The first trip to the dentist was all fun- but when we had to take her back for the cavities, that was another story. Cavities, shots and blood draws are really not fun appointments, but unfortunately she’s had to endure a lot of these in her first several months home. It’s not fun, but necessary for her health. She is so brave and resilient- although these are all painful things, she still listens and trusts me in those scary times. A few more cavities to fill and vaccines to get before we’re caught up, but hopefully soon those appointments will not be so regular!
Speech therapy is our next endeavor, although we’re unsure exactly when and through what avenue. As you know, Ruth was fortunate to already know English, as that’s what they speak in Lagos, Nigeria and at Precious Pearls orphanage. However, whether due to trauma of abandonment, a prolonged and untreated double ear infection, or most likely both, Ruth’s speech is very underdeveloped for her age. Although she’s made great progress since her time being home, it’s very clear she will need professional help for the foreseeable future. We know she will get help through the public school system, but we’re conflicted about waiting until Pre-K next fall or starting something sooner. We rarely can’t figure out what she’s talking about, and even if Shane and I don’t get it initially, there’s a 99% chance Allen will interpret! Their relationship is PRECIOUS. It is not lost on us how big God has been in our family- there’s no way these two could be so thick without God weaving them together long before we even knew about either addition to our family. It leaves me speechless many, many moments!
Coming back to my adjustment as a mother of two: it’s been more difficult than I could have ever imagined, but there has been great hope and encouragement. First, hope that God has brought Ruth to our family, and encouragement that I’m not alone in my struggle to attach to her and understand her as deeply as I want. It’s so silly how I thought I could have the immediate level of intimacy with Ruth as I have with Allen without any delay/effort/time etc.. As a parent to a biological and adoptive child, I overlooked the 9 months I had with Allen before he was technically here. I didn’t truly understand how critical a newborn and mother relationship was- for both parties. And although I read the books and articles, I still thought I would just magically have that built into mine and Ruth’s relationship immediately upon holding her for the first time. I conveniently forgot all the moments I cried as a mother to a newborn: wondering if I was even doing this motherhood thing right. Failing, at many things, and struggling to understand this being that I gave birth to. How could I not know this wasn’t also going to be different yet similar struggles with my new daughter?
But here we are, growing closer day-by-day. There are still times I wonder if I’m being the best mother to her, wondering if I’m failing and “messing up” pieces of her upbringing I can’t fix. But it’s just like all those late nights/early mornings as the mother of a newborn- no child comes with a manual. But God promises to guide us, and I draw peace from that truth. I’m looking forward to taking Ruth to her dance classes every week this fall, one of the first really girly things that we get to do as mother/daughter! Time is God’s tool for bringing us together, and wonderful things will come in that blessed time.
Ruth, you are a light in our family. You bring spunk and adventure and we are learning new things about you all the time! You fascinate us, and we are humbly aware of the amazing gift you are from our heavenly Father. We love you, sweetheart!