Saturday, November 24, 2007

Were back!

We just returned home from our Thanksgiving visit. Liberti did really well as she has continued to do well in crowds. We got to meet with Jaclyn on our way to gainesville too. She wouldnt seak to Stephanie in Chinese at all. She asked her what her Chinese name was and Ti's answer was a strugg. She asked if she forgot and she shook her head yes. That was the extent of it. She is only speaking a very little and only in song. She will not talk in Chinese at all. She extends her English vocabulary each day. She knows any word you say with good bye and loves the big show of it. She says or yells "goodbye, i love you. Goodbye, see ya later, i love you, tomorrow, I love you". Yes it is as cute as it sounds. Her words of love do not extend to me. She will not say "i love you" to me or greg. She has said it when saying it about everyone such as "grampa I love you, Grandma i love you, Landon I love you, Mommy I love you" But that is it and that was only once. Her affection also goes really far towards everyone pretty quickly but is slow coming to us. I think that is very natural and will mean more when it comes around. She is still acting like a 3/4 year old for the most part. Probably a good thing and most normal. She recognized that we were close to home when we were about 2 or 3 miles from our house and she celebrated with hands in the air. (About a 3 hour drive) She walked in and went through all the room srelocking the doors. She went to her room and looked in her closet and began to change clothes. She seemed right at home! I think she has made improvements with Landon a bit. Atlest while we were gone she stayed a little more entertained with so many people but she wasnt hurting everychance she got. She considered him alot. if she got something she has wanted him to get it to. so when she got a treat she wanted him to have one also but if he didnt want it right them soon she wanted it and would have a huge problem if she couldnt have it. Then she will have a huge protest that includes hitting screaming and what ever she can to get what she really wants. Those are farther between than they were the first week though. I think that she is coming to tolerate us and maybe even like us. Hopefully not too far in the future she will begin to love us, though that is probaly far off right now, i really think that it is possilble. We went out for teh day with a friend of ours who is a therapist and very trained in this type of field. He was able to see alot. As a "friend" he was still able to give us friendly advice and let us know what we are doing is right on and best for now. Most is pretty personal so I will leave that out but I can say that we felt a lot better and understood some things a little better too. Liberti has not cried about Keelung or her foster mommy and daddy in about a week now. She has made progress in moving forward and I am sure that we will have more regression and then progress over the next year. Hopefully we will take atleast 2 steps forward to every one step back but who knows it could be vise versa. Still we know it is a long raod and as short as it has been I can tell all ov you that it feels much much much longer than the actual time we have been with her. So knowing that we understand in the short period much progress has been made for our home life. Still Greg is not here and the htough of him walking in and her screaming and streeling "No' at him over and over makes me cringe of what life will soon be like again. Since for the most part she still has an attitude of this when he even calls. She is learning that I am the boss though. She understands when to say sorry and for the most part why. We are still working on "Skin to Skin bonding" where we do nails or makeup, hair or bathing things like that. We also play with the kids together climbing and playing on me and restling around. We play "where is landon and liberti" which is her most favorite game. she will ask "Mommy, Landon Liberti yes?" I cover them up and search where is Landon where is liberti oh no. It is pretyt funny but she loves it. she thinks she scares me to death when she pulls the covers off and yells liberti. She will still pull her clothes down or up and show to anyone like the gymnastics secretary. She is learning a little and we are working very hard on that issues. She will also wrote on everything if she has a pen or finds a marker. This includes clothes, walls, things or furniture. mostly she writes her name. she also goes into my things liek lotions or pefume and writes her name on it and hides it in her drawers or in her pillowcase. things like that. She got my mothers necklace and we have yet to find it LOL . These are small things we are working through and are just life changes. Anyhow all pretty boreing but I jsut wanted to update. Things are improving however small. We are happy that things have changed at all in such a short time and that is promising to us. Considering that fact that she has been through so much the past few weeks on top of changing habits she has had and been aloud to act on the past several years is impressive to us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Celebrating the little things

I brought Liberti to her new school on Monday just to get the registration info and get her set to start. She may go tomorrow through the rest of the week as they are having picture makeup and some fun stuff before Thanksgiving holiday starts. That way she will be in the yearbook which makes us happy being her first year in a US school. Then we will keep her out for that thanksgiving holiday as well as the next week. She will return to school for three weeks then get out for xmas break. So even though she will go for 3 days this week really she wont start for 2 more weeks which can only help her know the language a little better before she is there. I know that 2 weeks isn't that long but she is picking up so much English each day it is really remarkable. 2 weeks will have her understanding a lot more than what she does right now which is still impressive. We had to have her shot records recorded over onto our state vaccination blue card. That was eventful. The health department for our country apparently is the only one able to transfer the records and give the blue card. So we headed over there to find out they had stopped for the morning and we would have to return at 12:45 to fill out paperwork, show documentations, legals stuff, and to then see the nurse. We sat for 3 hours waiting. Anyone who has had to go a county, city, or state health department knows it is no walk in the park to deal with. I hate that place literally. So Glad we have a good dr and insurance as I could never deal with that place all the time. Anyhow, I had to drag my mom along as Greg is very very ill and had his own doctors appointment. Not that he could have helped much anyhow as Liberti usually freaks out the entire time he is around, let alone talk to her or be in the car with her. Landon of course following her lead and screaming "i do not want you" and "get away" makes for a pleasant day, NOT. (He got very sick the day we returned. We thought it was just allergies at first but by the next day he knew he was VERY sick) Landon was having his own bad day too of course so I was so glad she was able to come with me. Liberti asked several times if she had to get a shot and I said No as that is what the front desk said and I thought that too, BUT she did. In fact she had to get 2 shots. As soon as we got back to the room they told us and her face melted and she began to cry pleading mommy no, mommy no? It was heartbreaking. I know that this was a horrible week to have to get it done and I was so surprised but I think that it was best in the end to get it out of the way rather than have to keep her out of school longer AND have to visit that place again as they wouldn't give the new blue card without them. It was the MMR and the chickenpox. I didn't think that the chickenpox was even mandatory but they said she couldn't go to school without it. I know that you can push for religious reasons or morals, things of that nature. They are both live virus's too she said. She said that she will more than likely get a little sick and a fever too! I feel terrible for her. Not to mention Greg has never had Chicken pox. His sister had it 2 times. The dr said that he could have an immunity to it or he may have gotten it but never showed syptoms on the outside. Either way scary to think that She could have to deal with some symptoms and he could actually get shingles or what ever it is called. Yikes. His immunity is so low from being so sick as is. I told him to just stay in bed and avoid the living areas which he was happy to do today anyway. Poor guy. Liberti and Landon are both giving him a very hard time and it is killing him as is, then being so sick and now he could even get a more serious virus. On top of that the outage for his work that will be in Tampa is postponed until beginning of Dec so he has to leave to go out of state now on Thursday. He called all of his resources the last few days trying hard to get work around our area but just nothing here right now for what he does. What do ya do? I am hoping that while he is gone for a couple weeks she can bond more with me and then as time goes by she will learn to trust and bod to him through me. There are many therapist that actually believe that mothers should actually travel alone to pick up there children no matter what, strengthen the bond and then allow father to bond or child bond to father, rather. Not our choice for our family but that is pretty much how it will have to be. We will see. Means alot of work on my part with 2 ever changing kids by hour. Am I up for the challenge??? Well I have made it through alot in my life luckily and I am sure I can make it through this too right? I have to say that I have "yes you gotta have faith faith faith" LOL going in my head from Micheal. A little humor can go along way. Liberti woke last night at about 1:30 after going to bed at 8:00pm. She refused to take a bath or shower, refused to change out of her dress and into her PJ's and then refused to move off the couch and into bed. So I let that go for the night. Then I said she could watch Dora until I got Landon to sleep then she was going to bed. When I got done at 8 she had just gone to sleep. Up by 1:30 and then only back to sleep for an hour towards morning. This sleep situation really stinks. None of us are sleeping through the night yet. Up for hours during the night too which just keeps everything at a high level of stress. We all know how adults do with lack of sleep not to mention how our children do. We have tried everything though so far watching sun rise and set, stay awake all day after waking early and bed late, staying very active and busy during the day, and so on and so forth. Landon was only up for about 2 hours last night though which was a great improvement. Tonight I got her bathed and her hair washed (alot of hair) this was the first time she aloud me to do this and had refused since we picked her up to wash that. Her FM did that for her though and had a hands on routine so I know it is hard for her to face me doing it. The reality that she isn't here. Just like going to bed at all. As soon as she gets tired she gets angry and begins to show aggression. So I know she really misses them even more so at those times. Yesterday and today they rode their bikes to Ahma's house while I walked with them. The only time that they actually get along is when they ride together. Aside of the occasional purposely run in and laugh, it goes pretty smooth. Ti loves to ride her bike! She begs to ride it allot and is all smiles and laughs when doing so. When I say yes we can go ride them and we are going to ride to..., she yells thank you thank you mommy and hugs me. That is when I get the glimpse of our daughter. No wall nor pain no control. Just plain old happiness and youth! Those are the things i am celebrating today. The little things. the fact that she got mad at me today, yelled at me screaming NO, but never hit, spit or kicked me! the fact that she looked at me before she took the Little girls chair at the health department, the smile she gave of thankfulness for the bike ride and glass of milk she got! They may seem so small to you but when you are living the days as we are under a very black cloud, every rainbow or glimmer of light is something to look forward to and celebrate. Her agreeing to let me wash her hair, getting into her bed without a fight, and not hitting me today were nice accomplishments. Also she was very mad and aggravated by the fact that I told her she couldn't wear her dress up princess clip on earrings into the school and that she had to wear tennis shoes didn't make her happy. She protested with her usual over and over NO, pulled away and gave dirty looks but no hitting me was really good to me. She did spit on moms floor a big glob of (her treat) "Oreo" for no reason and laughed but she ALSO cleaned it up when we asked. This is more of just learned or aloud behavior that seams to not have been corrected but she is learning. I witnessed many signs of her knowing the difference of right and wrong as well as her looking to me for guidance at those times. Not sure if she is looking to see if I notice what she is about to do OR if she wants me to tell her what she should do but looking to me none the less. she also hurt Landon several times pretty quickly but only 2 times was it hard enough to have me really worried. I know I know you ask how can I let it happen? She is quick and all I can say is that if I turn to answer the phone I can not turn my back away from her without her doing something to him that way. Still it is very hard to stay within a couple feet of the two of them every second of the day they are awake. I am learning though.

Its now Friday and seems like the last couple days we do have progress at home. Liberti has not hit me in 3 days aside of slaping my hand away not when I tried to tuck inher shirt for school. She just doesnt understand the language quite enough for me to explain uniform and regulations of school. She argues about wearing a specific dress or shirt to school. When I say no she thinks she needs to pick another one. She went to school for 3 days and did preally well there. Today she walked in like she owned the place and told me "goodbye" as soon as we got in. It was sad but sweet. She is doing really well with the regular transition of things for the most part. We are excited about that. Yesterday morning and evening before, she was nice to Greg when bowling and very civil when she woke up. it was great to see that wall come down even briefly. So many families go through this same type of adjustment and it is really hard on the person they do it to. Greg has been so sad and disheartened by her anger and hate towards him. Having a child scream at you "NO" or yell or hit every time you are in their vicinity or sight or speak is very very difficult especially with all the other issues we are having. We do know that is all normal behavior for a child coming home and many families experience it like I said. He left yesterday for 4-5 weeks. Not our plan but his outage for Tampa got postponed for that long and nothing else around here right now. So last night she was asking and again this morning where is daddy? Lucky for me Judy was able to translate to me what to say and she understands and keeps saying no, daddy no. We tole her "daddy went away on a business trip for 4 weeks" Then she told our neighbor that in Chinese too. She is still reacting with allot of force but mostly to Landon right now unless it is something she really feels strongly about doing. She will still attack Landon easily and forcefully if i am just 3 steps away or turn my back even if I am still within reaching distance to both of them she takes that chance to do it. This morning she was all smiles for and got ready for school fairly easy. She wouldn't do anything for about an hour but then she actually put her own jeans on which has been unusual. She has pretty much tried to act Landon's age or younger while he tries to act like an infant. Very difficult but today it was better. i just said no you put the jeans on while I get your breakfast and she did. It was really nice. She has still been looking at me when she does something wrong like hurt Landon. She will say sorry mommy or Sorry Landon before I tell her what to do. She is still doing it then apologizing but that is a huge step from lack of remorse we began with. She has also not had a staring match since she fell asleep the 2nd time. Watching her interact like a normal healthy happy child is amazing and helps keep the faith that one day we will have most all smiles. So not get me wrong, the says are still VERY VERY tough and she still has major issues but we do see something hope and some improvement in our home life. The way she reacts in a crowd is still good though fake alot of the timeout always.

We have had a wonderful support system of course and have got lots of info from other families that have encountered the same struggles which has helped alot. We have been told about reading material tat will sure to benefit from as well as us. She enjoyed her gymnastics glass too and did well.

***Today, Sat, we went to Sea World and meet up with Matt, Molly and Malone. It was really nice. Not one of Liberti or Landon's best day this past week but it was stil so nice to see them and get out of the house for the day. Liberti has made great improvments this week. When she gets angry she seems to be recovering faster than previously. Before she would hold a grudge overnight and now she seems to get better within an hour or so. She did great at school and went for 3 full days. She will stay out for Thanksgiving holiday break (a week) and then the following week as well. Then she will return for 3 weeks. She has already learned to write several English words and did several assignments correct. She also went to gymnastics and did very well. The first half hours he needed me in the class with her, was very nervous and got mad right before but then once she calmed down and engaged what they were doing, she had lots of fun and let me leave the room without a problem. We will try out a couple more programs for gymnastics to see which will be the best fit for her. Though her hitting of Landon has not decreased any it seems, the severity of it has lightened some (though we know not to turn our backs for a second) she is appologizing when I tell her she can not hit or hurt him or anyone else. She says"Landon Sorry Landon, so sorry" and that IS an improvement. her arguments can be less depending on her amount of sleep like all kids. I think I have really seen an improvment this week. We all went bowling before Greg went out of town to and she broke down her wall toward Greg while she was having fun. She began tot ell him how to roll the ball and that he went to the right insteadof straight. She gave some high fives and didnt protest his every move or look in her direction. She didnt scream wen he talked to me either. After that Greg and I took her and Landon to our walking park around the lake for them to bike ride. This has become her absolute favorite and my reward tool for good behavior. She loves to ride her bike. When she continues to hit or be mean and wont stay in time out I tell her she wont get to ride her bike that day and she says sorry right away and works on improving for that time being. WE hav enot seen everything change of course and most of the time during the day I am still puling my hair out, however we do a light. A bright one far off but it is there!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our new blog

Welcome to our new blog! I have no idea right now how much I will be able to update this blog or if I will learn to depend on it every week. We have just began the journey to helping our daughter heal, healing as a family, transitioning her into our family, and finding the real Liberti within. We hope to have all of your support through our long road ahead. We also hope that by sharing our tryumphs, defeats, celebrations and challenges we can help other families that have had similar issues in adoption be it older child, toddler, infant, international, domestic, orphanage or fostercare. We dont know for sure if the best outcome will come of all this in the end BUT we have to believe and have faith that it will. We have only been home a very short time now far less than a week. We are sure to face so many challenges we can't even imagine yet but we are also looking ahead and trying to keep our eye on where we hope our family will be one day in the future. With love, patience, dicipline, courage, knowledge, tears and support WE WILL FIND LIBERTI, the happy peaceful free girl within.

RECAP for future reference. Written a couple days ago.

In case you haven't already read, this is what I shared with our adoption groups. I havent the energy to go back into it all so I'll just cut and paste. We had another hard night as Ti and Landon were both up crying off and on since 3am ...Hey everyone, we made it home. I have to say that I have thought over and over about sharing the details of our lives here recently. In the end I have decided that if we are not open than how can anyone else learn or gain knowelge from our experience as we have from others. I also thought about the families that said they wish they would have shared much sooner than they did. With that being said this post will be long. Our last couple days in Taiwan and trip home were pretty eventful. Ti was as prepaired as a 6 year old could be like we were told. I think that as we thought there is no real way to prepare your heart for what you are about to experience fully until you do experience it. She knew very well what was going to happen as far as that goes. In respect to that she has done very well. She didnt mind so much going with us (though sad of the loss), the hotel, the plane or the ride home. She wasnt shocked by any of it. She reacted accordingly with wanting one of us then rejecting us, a natural reaction. She would recite who she was going to see and look at pictures of our house. She cried 2 nights, not consecutively, for her loss of her Keelung mommy and daddy. She likes her new home, her dogs, and her room. She is happy with Ahma, Nana, papa and her aunties. But I have to share however personal this may be, We are having serious issues. They are not so much related to the transition of families (though hightened is clear) as it is to many other facts. But let me back up a little so you can understand. Before we recieved our rulling, we recieved a very long letter from her foster mom that was very detailed about her personality. We felt very blessed to get such a long detailed letter. Much of what came as a shock as we had never been told any of it. As time passed the next month the conclusion was that culturally they can focus on some negatives and are critical. So we went with it for the most part though we are not naive to adoption or the issues related to older child adoption nor fostercare children by any means. We now know that everything that was said in the letter was true and said politely. Please understand that we already love our daughter and we are commited to her future and her in our family. The problems that she had with the foster family for 4 years were very real and they are the same that she has now. We have been punched everywhere including the face, smacked, clawed, strangled, kicked,bit, and spit in the face more times than any of us can count. She has hurt Landon several times and just about broke his finger, ripped his skin, strangeled him, and kicked him in the face with pointy toed boots, and then some. All for no reason and out of the the blue to Landon. For him at Random and for no reason other than to do it. Most other times these things arent done to us unless we do not let her get her way 100% exactly as she wants it. It is very real. Fostermom said that she can not be left with small children that she doesn't understand she can break bones and it is true thought we believe that she completly understand that she can hurt him or anyone else. We can not leave her with Landon at all. Her aggression comes out when she is happy, sad or mad. She will be very excited and happy, touch his face softly and then claw him to death in that very spot and touch. Landon is so affected by her and can not trust her at all. He runs in paranoia most of the time and is on gard with every touch or if she nears him. But when everything is good, and rules are not having to be told or enforced so much she is sooo happy, smiles and giggles. Very sweet, happy and affection. And some days are better than others so far dependng on how much rules have to be applied. She is also very very smart and can manipulate already. Odviously we know that she isnt used to our rules and we cant expect her to follow our way of life right away. We would never expect that. For examples of some of the rules we had to enforce in which she reacted in this way: standing up in the plane seat and bopping the person in front of her and behind her on the head, trying to open mouth kiss me, being aggressive or physically hitting any of us, and/or break or throw things. We were told that she does not like adults unless she thinks that she can control them and we have found this to be true already. When I tell her no or do anything that she doesnt like or want me to do she screams over and over in every tone and expression on her face "NO, NO NO NO NO" stairing me down and ussually swinging. She then stairs without blinking into my eyes sticking her head forward as and says in this voice that you think only a 15 year old would be doing "NO" and if I look away she celebrates. Yesterday I decided I wasnt going to look away no matter what and she litterally staired at me for over 20 minutes until she fell asleep. It broke my heart and I cried after. I hate to have a battle of wills or domination but I cant let her celebrate her win of dominance when that is what she has done with them for the last 4 years. Unfortuenlty we honestly feel that she will not make it successfully in life on her own, never depending on any one else and we can not successfully parent her if she controls us and we live in constant fear of her. She will have to learn to respect us and everyone else. She will have to learn not to result in physical aggression and contact when she wills. Though I dont want to scare any of you, I have to tell you what is real. The strugles we are having are unique but every child comes with their own set of challenges. She was thrown out of one school for beating up a boy 2 years older than her. I have to think that there had to be an incident more than this or wonder the severity of the incident if she was not allowed back and made to go to another school in which they had to work on these behaviors. Liberti is very happy when things are going her way and no rules are given. Today was a really good day for her considering it was her second day home especially surprised us. She did punch Greg in the face when he asked her if she needed anything and sat down by her. (she was fine with him yesterday) It wasnt because she was rejecting him today. she went to bed mad at me and woke up mad at us. So we left her alone for a while. Then I came to talk to her and she got furious and began hitting me as well. I held her hands from hitting and explained she cannot hit and it wasnt ok to hurt people. She does understand "no hitting" She would not stop. I put her in my arms and rocked her telling her I love her and that she would be ok. She began to cry and trying to still hit i just held her and wouldnt let go. Not like typical holding therapy just kinda rocked her like a baby. until she gave in and layed there but she was furious. Still the feeling wasnt that she was mad at me for any other reason than I didnt let her do what she wanted yesterday. She can hold a grudge too. When I let her up she punched me in the face 2 more times so I held her again. I wasnt holding in her arm or hand or not letting her move. I just rocked her holding in a natural position. After about 10 minutes she calmed down and then Greg came in and she reached for him and I allowed that. We are not 100% sure of the things to do just putting into use some techniques from our research of other families and what feels natural. She calmed down, ate breakfast and was happy all over again. She played and laughed. It is easy for her to be rebelious to us and hate everything we do as she should, not knowing us or loving us. We accept that part of it. But when she is not fighting a battle of wills she is completly content with showing affection, talking laughing and things of the sort. She wants me there if she goes to the bathroom or takes a bath and feels secure in that. She litterally is like nite and day. Jsut as her videos were of her having one of these fits and the other of her enjoying her time at the zoo. We are sure that if she wanted anything she had/has to ask me. and if she refused then she didnt get it or couldnt do it. She was happy the rest of the day and into the night. Though I didnt have to enforce any rules today really so she didnt have too much to get mad over I stil felt better today than yesterday. She was better with Landon too and he felt ok to ride around with her in the riding toy outside and play with her on the floor for a while. Still she did little things to him when she would walk by that werent enough to make him cry but enough to make him flinch. she would grab his hand and squeeze, or bop him a little too hard on the head or things like that. But this you could expect from most siblings. Not completley acceptable but progress considerably. We are very compassionate about the fact that her world has turned upside down and if we didnt know that she has done all of these things for so many years then we would think it was all do to the transition and move. There is considerable stress, fear and confussion, loss of culture, family, country and language on her part. There have been some other incidents as well of things just as serious that have to be looked into further. This and her pain are nothing to forget about or take lightly and we won't. Even with today being so good we cant help but wonder what tomorrow brings. This is going to be a very very long journey. Her foster mother expressed that life with Ti was like a relay race and that she was very tired and hading over the baton. That sentence speaks very loudly to me now. She also expressed that she has the potential to be a very good person or a very bad person in life. That too is loud and clear. Still with all of this, alot of tears and emotionally drained we still know that she is our daughter and we must help her. We have begun talking about some steps to help her move forward. We will give 4-6 months of dicipline, love, and structure and if without enough progress then consider professional therapy unless we feel it is needed sooner for what ever reason. We hope that a very strict aware school and a sport like gymnastics in which she can feel personal gain and reward as well as release energy in a positive physical way will help. We will be contacting our homestudy agecncy and our adoption agency to speak with them and get their professional support and opinions about implemementing some strategies and resources. We may even consider to have counseling to some degree sooner. At home we will be consistant in working towards trust and bonding in and of itself that can take a long time, as well as rules that she can clearly understand and abide by. We have a very strong support system with family and friends but we know there are sure to be times we feel very alone in all of this. We trust that love and time heal most. We know that these habbits that have been aloud to develope are very instilled and it will take a lot to reroute her reactions to many things. We have faith that can and will happen in time. How much time we dont know. Will we be pulling our hair out? yes. Will there be lots of tears, yes there already have been. Will we question what we are doing, have done or whats working? Of course who wouldnt? Right now we are tired and a little weary but again faithful and trusting that we were lead to our daughter. Do we feel the way we did with Landon? No we dont. Do we feel love? Yes we believe we do and its still growing. Are we sad or discouraged. Yes a little. I am sure I sound like a crazy person right now with limited sleep, stress and jet lag. This is all just being honest. And I write it today as I am not sure I will have the gutts to its publicity tomorrow.
Still needing and asking for prayer