People ask us all the time: how is Katie adjusting? Answer: very well, all things considered. Most days. Some days are rough though. The roughest days are when I have to tell Katie "no" too many times in one day. We always joke... that in her head she thinks:
"I have the meanest parents in the world.
They don't let me play with sharp knives,
They don't let me play with sharp knives,
try to open childproof medicine containers (long story, she climbed to it),
turn the knobs on the stove, steal other people's food at a restaurant,
or run into the street. They are the
meanest parents EVER."
(You HAVE to laugh sometimes or you'll cry). Katie can be a handful, an adorable, quirky handful. She also fights HARD against me, against me telling her what to do, but there is a good reason why! You see, Katie is just not used to having parents. She's not used to anyone having an opinion about what she does. She's not even used to anyone NOTICING HER-- for four long years! Think what a shift it is for this persistent blond woman to helicopter parent you (especially in public so you won't run off), not allow you to throw food on the floor, ask you to please drink more than 4 oz. of liquid a day, not allow you to run into traffic or drink toilet water, and scoop you up to cuddle when you'd rather just play alone. Fourteen hours a day of a mommy, when you really never had one. OH! And this crazy blond mommy wants you to LOOK at her and play with her and socialize. (You can see how much I must frustrate her at times). There are truly days that I crawl into bed so discouraged that she doesn't understand that Mommy loves her. I try very hard to invest some time daily into engaging with her in ways SHE enjoys: puzzles, music, singing, playing in water, blocks, sand and shovels. This is a huge adjustment for her and I choose to have grace with her as she explores, tests boundaries, and figures out this weird thing called "family".
As for the devastating effects of her institutional childhood and years of neglect: her lack of eye contact, and bigger interest in objects more than people remain. She IS slowly blossoming, each day, and realizing that SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS ARE VALUABLE. Especially with her hearing device on, she looks in my eyes more often, and comes to me for help and even occasionally for companionship. This part will be a LONG road. The more and more she's with us, the more she'll break out of her inward-seeking tendencies and her thick anti-social shell. There ARE days that I desperately want to speed things up and just have her want to interact with me. But I can't change her. I can't force her. She's blossoming on her own timeline, not mine.
Do you ever get the feeling the Lord's really trying to get a Truth into your thick head? This verse is following me around everywhere, in my most discouraging moments, He reminds me. He HAS a future and a hope for Katie. When we have a hard day, I cry out to The Lord to encourage me, remind me of HIS sufficiency to miraculously transform this precious child. He keeps reminding me. "He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it" 1 Thessalonians 5:24. (This chapter was written by my dear Cindy (Lucinda Secrest McDowell) about her journey with adopting her wonderful special needs son.) I can say this, God's transforming Katie everyday, AND He's transforming my heart, He IS faithful.
Here's some of her most joyful moments in the past 3 weeks:
first time to see the ocean
first amusement park ride
first time loving the ocean waves (Ocean City, NJ)
She loves Sister cuddles!
first Morning Music Time when she could HEAR
America's Sweethearts on the 4th of July
first fireworks: she could SEE and HEAR them...
and MY FAVORITE: TODAY! She was so terrified of her swimming vest and arm rings but when she actually started swimming around with us at Mt. Hope Pond, she was so, so happy!
How we love our sweet, sweet baby Kate!
When I get discouraged, I HAVE to remember, Nothing is too difficult for the King of Kings. It's my ability to trust Him that falters, not His plan for her all along. I have to remember Who made her, Who loved her before we did, and Who understands her fully: her painful past, her present, and her mysterious future. He's got the whole world in His hands, including Katie Grace Xiatong Becker.
What would my blog post be without including a song that really speaks to me?
THIS ONE, "I Will Lift My Eyes": by Bebo Norman, which refers to Psalm 121, one of my FAVORITE Psalms...