First days home…

Saturday, February 16

As predicted, Cara was up and ready to go well before I was Saturday morning. Ron and I both felt as if we’d been hit by a train. I don’t quite understand why the jetlag is so much worse coming home than it is going over there, but it is. Ron caught Cara’s cold, and somehow injured his ankle during the trip home. He had difficulty walking from the airport out to the car, and by the time we got home his ankle was twice the size it should have been and severely bruised. He said it was better when he woke up, so was up helping me get breakfast and took care of Cara while I cleaned the same house I’d cleaned before I left. Daniel is not the neatest person and my kitchen was a disaster when we got home!

After fixing a breakfast of fruit, toast and eggs for everyone, I scoured the kitchen, and got the vacuum out. I am not a fanatic about clean, but I don’t like clutter, animal hair coating the carpets, or a dirty kitchen. Ron made a quick trip to the store, and Alexandra and fiancé, Derrick tried to entertain Cara while I was making a quick run through the house with the vacuum.

Cara quickly lost interest in the puzzle they were trying to do with her, and started harassing the cats. She was fascinated with their tails and felt it was something to drag them around by. Trust me, the cats were NOT impressed! Noticing she was missing from the living room, I found her in the bathroom trying to pull Critter out by the tail. I said, “Cara, tooka,” (I’m sure I spelled that wrong) which means “come here,” or just “here.”  When she didn’t respond, I took her by the hand and led her back out to the living room. She was furious with me, started yelling at me, and stuck her tongue out at me. I put her up on the couch, telling her “Ne.” This infuriated her further, and she started screaming and crying for Alexandra. I reminded Alexandra she could not “save” her, so she and Derrick went into the kitchen, Alexandra in tears. Cara tried to get down from the couch, I put her back. Her anger escalated, and she continued to scream at me. I knew whatever she was saying was directed at me, as she would interject “mama” in the middle of her sentences. Once again she tried to get down and I calmly put her back on the couch. I was so unprepared for what happened next. She completely lost control, was in a wild rage and flew off the couch at me, fists clenched, eyes flashing, and swinging her tiny little fists at me. I again told her “ne” and put her back on the couch. She came at me again, and as I went to put her back on the couch she grabbed my forearm and pinched me as hard as she could, continuing  to scream at me. I grabbed her hand, said “NE” with more force and told her to “SIT DOWN.” She took her hair clip out of her hair and threw it at me, which I picked up and put in the bathroom. She continued to rage and when I returned she flew off the couch at me again, kicking and swinging her fists at me. As I went to return her to the couch, she managed to grab my thigh in her death clench, and she pinched me as hard as she could again. I took her by the arms and set her back on the couch, and her hands went for my face. I managed to grab them before she grabbed me, and now I was downright angry! I got right up to her nose, and yelled “NE! You will not hurt mama!!!”  She immediately stopped crying, immediately stopped fighting, and sat there looking at me. I have no idea what was going through her head, but something clicked, and she sat there quietly until I was done vacuuming and sat down next to her. I spoke to her quietly, explaining to her that she could get mad, but she could never, ever hurt anyone! I know she didn’t understand, but she managed to understand that I was no longer angry, but also that I was not going to accept that kind of behavior. I didn’t think she’d allow me to touch her, but she did, and I pulled her close to hug her. I also made her say “I’m sorry, Mama,” and she did. I told her she could get up, and I put the vacuum away. To say I was stunned was an understatement. I have taken care of children for many years, many with emotional special needs, and many from sketchy backgrounds of drugged out, alcoholic parents, but I have never seen such rage in a child! She was truly possessed, and I was truly shaken. I knew I was not the favored parent at this time, but I had never expected anything like that. Ron could tell her no, and redirect without any repercussions. Alexandra had told her no, and redirected several times while I was fixing breakfast earlier with no repercussions.  I didn’t even tell her “no” over the cat, just said, “come here” and redirected her back to the living room. It was a real wake-up call for me, and I was very concerned with what I would be dealing with once Ron returned to work.

Cara was wonderful the rest of the day. I figured she would avoid me as much as possible, interacting only with Ron. Alexandra had gone to Derrick’s house; Dan was at work, so it was just the 3 of us at home. Strangely enough, she didn’t want anyone but me. She followed me around the house as I picked things up and put them away, wanting to engage me in toys, and games, talking to me non-stop. I wasn’t sure what to think! After getting things put away, I sat with her and we played games and tickled, and chased each other through the house. After dinner we took her on a quick trip to the grocery store, which she absolutely loved, yelling in excitement at all the things on the shelf. After putting the groceries away, we all got ready for bed and she was asleep within minutes.

I wish I understood what happened this morning. I suspect she has been reacting to me, as she reacted to the orphanage staff, who were all women. Their only goal was to keep the children quiet and as happy as possible, so there was no discipline. They ran interference with each other with the children, giving in to them to keep them from crying. We witnessed that when we were there last October. The children ran the show. It is pure speculation, but I suspect if the children didn’t like the response they got from one caregiver they would just call another to come and “save” them. And they were always saved. Cara had a meltdown last October when we told her she could not take her sticker book outside. Everything she took outside to show the other children ended up destroyed, so we told her to leave it in the room while we went out to play with the other children. She had a foot stamping, screaming tantrum, and one of the caregivers came running in to save her! They would do anything and everything to keep the kids from crying, and you can bet they utilized that trick as much as possible.  When Cara tried it with me, and discovered it wouldn’t work, she lost control, and went into a complete rage. When she found out I wasn’t going to cave into that kind of behavior, she stopped. As I said, this is all pure speculation. I also suspect the changes, adjustment, stress of her whole life being turned upside down were all part of it.

Sunday, February 17

Cara slept in a little longer this morning; however the dogs got me up early to take them out. There is no rest for the wicked! I wish I were less wicked!

We truly had a wonderful day today. I had expected Cara to be standoffish, but she was more into doing things with me than she had ever been. After breakfast, she had a bath and got dressed for the day. She is very independent when it comes to getting dressed, and made sure to show me she could dress herself while we were still in country. It is hard to grasp that she can do these things when she is so little. We have to be careful we don’t treat her as a much younger child than she is.

After her bath, I brought the baskets of laundry into my room to fold. We had mountains of laundry, and it had taken all day Saturday with the washing machine going non-stop to get it done. Alexandra and I started folding, and I was setting Cara’s clothes off to the side, along with a separate pile of socks. Cara immediately started folding her own clothes, and quite well. You can well imagine my surprise! She matched socks, and quickly learned whose underwear went in which basket.  I wondered whether or not all the children had been taught to fold laundry, just the girls, or only those that expressed an interest. It was all the more curious because when we were there in October of last year, there was an older woman out in the yard hanging the clothes to dry, and she also brought in clothing that had been folded to put away in the children’s room. Curious as I was, she was very proud to show me her skills, and I was more than happy she could!

I really pushed myself to get things done yesterday, and was really dragging my fanny today. I am used to going 90 miles an hour all day, but trying to get it everything done while my body was still fighting deep fatigue wasn’t the best way to go about it. I still had a few things I wanted to accomplish while Ron was still the favored parent, which included filing the adoption papers, clearing off the dining room table, and making a trip to Costco for a few necessities. Ron was still out of commission with his foot, so I had planned to take Cara to Costco with me by myself. However, after clearing the dining room table and getting everything else done except going through the adoption papers, and organizing receipts, I realized I didn’t have it in me to take Cara alone with me to Costco. In fact I didn’t have it in me to take myself to Costco. About 45 minutes after I’d made the decision to wait another day, Ron rallied to the task, and said he’d go with me. I honestly did not want to go, but I wanted to get it done so we could all relax the following day. Cara, always ready for an adventure got her coat on willingly and settled into her car seat so I could buckle her in. When we got to Costco, and Ron took her out of her car seat , she actually reached for me to put her in the cart.

I must say it is a great deal of fun taking a child with next to zero life experiences out into the world! Cara was mesmerized by all the different things in Costco. Had I not been as weary as I was, I would have taken my time and showed her every inch of the store. She sat in the cart, daddy pushing, pointing out everything new and exciting, yelling at us in utter excitement. All in Bulgarian of course, and we couldn’t understand any of it! We passed a couple with a newborn, and she started screaming “Baby, baby!” The woman walked over to show her the new baby and she was so thrilled, pointing to the baby, and saying “Mama, baby!” This little girl just makes me laugh so much. As I walked ahead of the cart, she would call out to me, and then hold my hand as dad pushed. When I would let go, she’d call out for me again. I was overjoyed, as I was not the favored parent!  As is customary for us, we stopped to look at the books before checking out, and I realized I’d forgotten the canned fruit I wanted to have on hand for her. She eats a small serving of fruit every morning with her breakfast, and I had only bought a couple of cans at Fred Meyer the night before. I told Ron to wait for us by the books, and I would take Cara and the cart to get it. As I was pushing the cart towards the right aisle, Cara whispered “Mama,” and laid her head down on my hands. And I cried. Finally something to indicate she was connecting with me!

At the checkout register, Cara pulled the things she could reach out of the back of the cart and handed us each item to put on the belt. She smiled throughout, jabbering away in Bulgarian, very pleased with herself!

The big excitement of the evening was that Hallie was coming to spend the night. She had called me while we were driving to Costco to ask if she could have dinner with us. She said she couldn’t wait to come and play with Cara! I told her of course she could come for dinner, and I would call her to let her know when we got home so she could come over right away! She was so excited, and I was just as excited to see her! I had not seen her in almost 2 weeks, and I couldn’t wait to snuggle with my girl!

We were having Costco’s roasted chicken for dinner, and as soon as we got home, I started making mashed potatoes, one of Cara’s absolute favorites, to have with the chicken. Hallie arrived just as dinner was ready, and she strutted in the house, looking for Cara, not even bothering to hug me first!  She had gone through this past year of waiting for Cara to come home right along with us, and I suspect she wasn’t going to believe Cara was really here until she saw her! Cara recognized Hallie right away, and yelled, “Hallie!” as soon as she saw her. Hallie got a huge smile on her face, and said “Hi, Cara,” like she’d just seen her a few days ago. It is so interesting to see how children react to each other, especially when in a new situation. She had to be sure she sat right next to Cara to have dinner, and as Cara chattered away in Bulgarian, Hallie kept asking me, “What is she saying?!?” And I told her “I have no idea!” 🙂 I explained that Cara didn’t speak English right now, and it was our job to help her learn. I also explained that Cara didn’t understand what we were saying either!

The girls hit it off famously! Way better than I expected. They ran like wild children through the house, laughing at each other and just having a good time. Cara kept running back to me, telling me all kinds of things she and Hallie were doing, and of course, Hallie continued to ask, “What is she saying!?”  When it was finally bed time, they got into their pajamas, and the two of them and Alexandra crawled in our king size bed with me, and we watched “Brave” for the umpteenth time! I should clarify. They watched Brave with Alexandra, and I passed out trying to write a blog post!  I have no idea what time they fell asleep, I just vaguely remember Alexandra briefly waking me to tell me she was going to bed, and she carried Hallie to her bed for me. At least I think she carried Hallie to bed! Someone did! Maybe I did! Sleeping with Hallie is difficult enough. She is one of those kids who does 360’s all night and has to be as close to you as possible. The two of them in bed with me would have meant no sleep at all. I had explained to Hallie in advance that after she was asleep we’d put her in her own bed, so when she woke up she wouldn’t be upset or surprised.

Monday, February 18

Of course, the girls woke up at the crack of dawn, and drug me out of bed with them. Ron was not feeling well by this time, having come down with the cold Cara developed in Bulgaria, and with the bad ankle to go along with it, he was miserable! I let him sleep, taking the girls to the kitchen, and making them breakfast. Hallie wanted exactly what Cara was eating, even though it was not her usual breakfast of a blueberry waffle with syrup. So I gave her a bowl of fruit and an Activia yogurt to eat while I scrambled some eggs and made toast. Cara gobbled her fruit and yogurt, and Hallie picked at hers, not happy with the choice she’d made. She tends to be a bit grumpy in the morning anyway, and this didn’t help. As Cara was enjoying her eggs and toast, Hallie decided she didn’t want eggs, just toast, and then didn’t finish that.

I gave both girls a bath after breakfast, which they enjoyed. Cara isn’t very impressed with having her hair washed, so Hallie told me she would show her how it was done, tipping her head way back so I could rinse her hair without getting soap or water in her face. It didn’t help Cara much at all, but Hallie was very proud to be setting a good example!

The girls played all morning until lunch time, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. Hallie also asked for dill pickles, which she loves, but Cara wanted nothing to do with those! Watching the two girls interact with the language barrier was fun and interesting! They somehow managed to understand each other and chatted while they ate.

Cara and Hallie are only 14 months apart in age, but Cara definitely has “orphanage delays.” Statistically, for each 3 months a child is institutionalized, they lose a month in development. Cara is right on target with the statistics. Even though she is six, she is about 4 developmentally. She will eventually catch up, but it is going to take some time. Hallie is a good head taller, cognitively far more advanced. But that didn’t stop them from enjoying each other, and playing together.

Because they had gotten to bed late, and were up early, I insisted on a nap for them both. Hallie was very against the idea, but when I offered to lay down with them both in my bed, she was a bit more accepting. I could see there was some jealousy as she has had me all to herself for the past five years when she’s here. It was a little difficult for her to share me. Thankfully, Cara is not yet to the point of being jealous in return.

Both girls slept about 2 hours, and we had some playtime before dinner and Hallie going home. Hallie was showing Cara how to do headstands (Hallie does them perfectly… a future Olympian in the making) and it was hysterical watching Cara try to imitate. She thought it was hysterically funny as she’d flop over on her back.

Hallie was very sad at the idea of going home, begging to stay “just one more night!” It breaks my heart when I have to tell her no, but the good news is she will get to spend Wednesday and Thursday night with us this week, and I will take her to her gymnastics class on Thursday! She was thrilled with that, and with a little prodding, extra hugs and kisses, she went home with mama.

Cara and I were in bed by 8 PM!  I will be glad when my days and nights are back on my time instead of somewhere between here and Eastern Europe!

I will continue to update the blog, but it will be weekly instead of trying to find time to get it out daily. Cara is a magical little sprite who is busy, busy, busy! I am now the preferred parent, and she wants me to hold her all the time. I have no problem with that!

2 thoughts on “First days home…

  1. Congratulations. Your little Cara is precious.

    Loved reading about your adoption and your first days home. We used the same agency in Bulgaria and had the same driver on our pick-up trip so it was neat to see some familiar faces and read some familiar names. I’m glad all is going well with your new little one.

  2. Sabrina, I’ve enjoyed following your story too. I have 4 bio children, and each and every pregnancy was exciting, as was the joy of each birth. But, adoption is something incredibly special all on it’s own. Seeing God’s hand working and moving towards the ultimate goal of “one less” is no less exciting than the miracle of a child growing inside your womb. It’s so hard to explain to those who have not experienced it. I am continually amazed that I had a child in Eastern Europe. And I believe God has plans for Emma to come home this year too. Please continue to pray for our other daughter! May God always bless your family!

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