We have been home with Grace for just over two months now. Wow. The time seems to have flown by, yet it is hard to remember what it was like around here without her. I think it is safe to say that everyone that has met our little Ethiopian princess has fallen in love with her. She is joy to be around and has certainly changed our family in a wonderful way.
So when people ask me how she is doing, I don't know where to begin. It is incredible to think that just over two months ago, she didn't even speak English. People used to ask us what we were going to do about communicating with her. Well, that has proven to be no big deal! I can't even begin to count the phrases and words that she uses. She says everything! She still has her sweet Ethiopian accent. I will be sad when it is gone. She will ask questions that have a certain Ethiopian twist to them - things like, "This one blue, yes?" She talks all the time when we are home and when it is just her family around. She tends to be very quiet when others are visiting. She doesn't say much when we are out and about. Then, the second we get into the car to come home, it is like all of her words were stored up waiting to come out. She has a complete understanding of what we say to her. It is really wild how much she has learned in such a short time.
Some of Grace's favorite things are her babies (she must sleep with them), swinging, brushing her teeth, taking a bath, Play Doh, being outside, and just about anything else that she can do with her brothers and sister. She loves to play silly games like chasing/hiding/teasing.
Grace is a great eater. She will eat all sorts of healthy things. When she first came home, I was worried all she would ever eat was bananas. Now, she eats almost anything. She eats better than my other three kids. She loves veggies. She still loves injera and asks for it. We try to stay stocked up, but the closest Ethiopian restaurant is about two hours away. Our freezer is full of injera for now, so Grace is thrilled.
Grace is still an awesome sleeper. I had heard all sorts of stories about sleep issues with adopted children. I was aware that adopted children often grieve while they sleep, crying out, waking up, etc. Well, we are blessed because Grace lays down to sleep wide awake and I don't usually hear from her until morning. We have our bedtime ritual - books, snuggling, etc., then it is off to bed...awake...no laying down with her for me. I know that some adoptive parents think it is important to co-sleep, etc., but at the end of the day, I am done - if I lay down with Grace, I will be out like a light. We treat Grace just as we did our bio kids and it is working out beautifully. Like I said, we are blessed.
So, we have been thrilled with our transition and believe Grace is really bonding well and feeling attached to us. We are lucky and are head over heels in love. Now...keeping it real...Adopting a preschool age child is not all "sunshine and light" - (wink, wink, Bonnie).Grace does have her moments. We see that "Ethiopian pout" that we've heard about. She doesn't like to hear the word "no" and she will cry and turn into a limp noodle if she wants to be picked up and doesn't get her way. She is also a major diva when it comes to fashion. The girl has strong opinions about what she wears. I give her a few options every morning (things that I am alright with) and she needs to choose. She loves to accessorize and is often a stinker about needing to wear her fake earrings or sunglasses wherever we go. It's a good thing she is my fourth child, because I would have been in big trouble if she was my first. I think it would be hard to adopt an older child without the parenting experience that we have had. We have a much easier time setting boundaries because we have some experience (I am also able to listen to a little crying without giving in).
God really knew what he was doing when he choose Grace for our family. She fits in perfectly...she has just enough of a combination of sweet and spicy. She can handle our crazy schedule and seems to really enjoy us at same time. We are cherishing our transition time. If I had to describe how the adoption experience has been, I would say it is FUN. As a family, we have laughed more in the past two months than we have in a long time. Every day the older kids have a funny Grace story to share or enjoy fooling around and playing with her. Adoption truly is as much of a miracle as birth is...it's just different. One of my favorite adoption quotes puts it best..."Mosaic consists of multi-colored glass and stones; some are broken and fragmented, specifically placed to make beautiful artwork. That is how I view adoption. Adoption includes various color of glass...ethnicity, cultures, families, backgrounds. Many will be "broken," but God specifically sets them in place...not at random, but with a specific pattern or purpose in mind. What seems like a broken piece of glass becomes beautiful artwork." - unknown
I couldn't write this post without a few pictures. I finally got Grace to put on her traditional Ethiopian clothes. While we were in Ethiopia, we bought a few dresses for her in a variety of sizes. For the first month or so she didn't want to wear her Ethiopian clothes. Thankfully, she finally agreed and has since decided that she LOVES to model them for me (and the camera). These shots were all her doing. She was all about the scarf on her head, looking at the camera over her shoulder, etc. She cracks me up sometimes. I swear that if we don't watch it, she will become so precocious that we will need to move to Hollywood and get her an agent...