The first meeting was oh so precious! She almost seemed too good to be true. And then began the real journey...trying to bond as a family. As amazing as she was and as ready as we were to have her, the adoption process was difficult on all of us. First, her mouth infection in China which was incredibly difficult for new parents to have to face. Then her rejection of Bobby which was very hard for us to not be hurt by. Luckily that didn't last long. Next, the transition back to America, her being in a totally unfamiliar place and us not truly understanding what having a toddler full time would mean to our lives. The first months were rough. Dealing with getting her poor little mouth attended to was a major feat in itself. No dentist would see her because she was so young and needed to be put under to have the work done. Then finally, we found someone...out of network but who cares! A dentist that would finally help ease her pain. There were other doctor appointments too...most of which were at AI Dupont in Christiana. She had to have so much blood taken and we had no way to explain to her what was happening. We could just hold her and hope that her discomfort would pass quickly. All this on top of dealing with a new toddler with a language barrier. Dealing with multiple wakings in the night, temper tantrums, not eating, changing diapers, watching kids shows all the time, hitting, pinching and not playing nice with other kids. How do we teach her? Are we doing the right things? So much stress of just worrying about how she was doing. It really got to us. The first months were tough. We missed our old lives of being able to relax after work or go out for a nice dinner on the weekend. Those days were gone but we had a hard time letting them go. Larkin developed post adoption depression, common and similar to what birth mothers experience which makes it hard to bond with the child. Bobby just trying to get through from one day to the next trying to help his wife and his daughter at the same time but not knowing what to do. And both of us continuing to work, necessary for Larkin to keep her sanity but difficult because it kept us apart since Bobby works during the day and Larkin during weekday evenings.
But slowly, ever so slowly things finally started to change. Almost unnoticeable from a day to day perspective but looking back its obvious that we all started to bond. Her understanding of English came on quickly and her words came more each day. Rather than spending the last few minutes of the day complaining about what bad had happened, we found ourselves talking about cute things she had done. Problems that seemed to be earth shattering at first seemed to melt away into the background to the point where they were much more manageable or even totally disappeared. Her eating improved, her understanding of how to play with others improved, our ability to cope with stress improved. And we grew as a family. Doing what we had loved before we got Mila, now seemed awesome to experience for the first time through her eyes. Going to the beach, seeing a movie at the theater, visiting family in Kentucky, and all of the holidays. Everything seemed refreshed and exciting now that we could introduce Mila to the things we loved. We enrolled her in preschool which has turned out to be such a blessing. She loves school! And her teacher! Both of which have played a part in helping Mila to grow. She has been going to church. First to nursery and then the transition to Primary. To hear her sing "Follow the Prophet" puts this whole thing into perspective and makes us glad that our first year is behind us. Though we would never wish her life away, we are so glad to be in the place that we are now. This little girl is truly amazing! Her spirit has been what has won us over. And we know that she was meant to be ours. What does the next year hold? We're not sure but we do know that we are united as a family and that we can tackle whatever comes our way.