Yesterday marked a seemingly unbelievable milestone in our family…. six months since the day Caroline LiYun became our daughter! And the date was marked with a sweet gift and moving gesture from our 13-year-old. Santa had given her, among other presents, a bracelet-making kit with beads. She asked me which example on the box I liked and then proceeded to measure my wrist with a piece of ribbon, skipping off to her room to weave beads onto the loom. Her excitement impressed me because I figured the first bracelet she’d make would be for herself. (After all, she’s a typical teenager.)
Last night, as I lay in bed, Caroline came into my room with a smile of pride and accomplishment as she presented me with a beautiful blue and purple masterpiece to adorn my wrist. Her eyes sparkled, and my heart quickened at the realization that this was her first gift to me. Had she given me a present six months ago on Gotcha Day, I would have treasured it. But to receive a gift, one crafted with such effort and care, after months of
adjustment to family expectations and rules,
difficult discussions regarding responsibility, obedience, and hard work,
and realization that her forever family isn’t perfect…
I felt touched to the core. I felt like all of our love and hard work were being reciprocated. And I felt accepted by my daughter as her mother.
In the last six months, we’ve seen incredible growth and progress! Without being conscious of it, we’ve transitioned to communicating daily without the assistance of Google Translate. For detailed and important conversations, we do use the program. But for general conversation, we are now able to talk and converse with ease. And I can look back and see this growth as a huge contributing factor in Caroline’s sudden happiness and comfort.
She has some sweet friends at school who look after her. And several of the girls have commented that she seems even more content and joyful now than ever before. I truly believe that her birthday and Thanksgiving holidays were a turning point for her and that she gained a true sense of family (immediate and extended) and community during that time. She has a wonderful sense of humor and loves to play with the littles. She has also shown some new signs of responsibility with them, particularly when she can tell that I’m not feeling well.
She has developed a sense of gratitude and is much better about thanking us for purchases, gifts, and acts of service for her. We still have battles of the wills and typical teen issues to deal with, but I am thrilled at the degree of progress, warmth, and engagement she’s now showing. She even played a game with me a few weeks ago (something she would not do six months ago when we got home), we had a blast.
Food continues to be a challenge for Caroline, but she’s been discovering more American foods she enjoys. And she still steels herself when upset, throwing up a wall that I can’t break down. We have yet to see her cry or share concerns or fears. I long to be there for her through these moments, but it will take more time for her to trust me and feel comfortable enough to share. I have been told that the entire first year of older child adoption is difficult and ever-changing in its accomplishments and setbacks. So we know to be patient.
While Caroline continues to be curious about Jesus Christ and is discipled weekly by an older Chinese woman, she resents church (understandably since she can’t understand enough of what is being said and thinks it’s long). And gospel terms and Christian lingo haven’t found their way into her English vocabulary yet, so it’s difficult for me to discuss my faith with her. I still point her to passages in her Chinese/English Bible, and I hope she is learning by our examples of worship and study. But I long for the day when she truly grasps the gospel message and accepts Jesus as her Lord and Savior. There is work and healing to be done in her heart that only the Lord can accomplish!
Over the months, your emails and comments (particularly in the giveaway post) have touched us with your love, prayers, and encouragement for our family, for Caroline, and for me as a mother. Thank you for sharing in this whole experience with us! Without you, I am sure I would feel utterly alone in this journey at times. Know you are loved and appreciated.