Seattle with our Girls

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Time is short this morning, but I want to give a quick update on our visit with Dimples. Her flight went well and I had no trouble picking her up at SeaTac. We hopped in the car, where Russ and Bee were waiting, and headed into traffic on our way to an Ethiopian restaurant. The girls were thrilled to have Ethiopian food, and it was nice to have something special to do together.

During dinner I asked the girls if smelling the food made them remember Ethiopia. We chatted about it a little bit and then Dimples said, “Can we lighten the topic?” She explained that she had recently finished working on her life story and talking about Ethiopia was bringing up some deep emotions.

Wow. Did you read that? Our daughter, who is often ruled by her fears and emotions, used words to tell us that the conversation was making her feel anxious and respectfully asked us to talk about something else. It was stunning. Her ability to recognize and verbalize her feelings is probably the most notable change we’ve seen.

Thursday we spent over six hours at Seattle Children’s. It felt very, very long, especially the last couple of hours. Thankfully the girls had good appointments. Both girls had lots of time with special friends on this visit, as did Russ and I. It was sweet to see how happy everyone was to see Bee and Dimples.

Friday morning, I could see Dimples’ anxiety and irritability begin to rise. I tried to stay very calm, feed her food she liked, and help her pack snacks in her backpack. On the drive to the airport she realized she had forgotten her snacks and I assured her I would get food for her. When we got into the airport, I could see she was getting more agitated. I stopped, touched her arms, looked in her eyes and said, “I can see you are really worried about not having enough food to eat. As soon as we get to your terminal, we will buy lunch for you and pack it in your backpack.” That reassured and calmed her a bit.

She was disappointed with the food choices available near her gate, but she finally chose something. We sat down to wait. I suggested we play cards, or do another activity she had with her, but she refused. I told her I knew she was struggling with leaving, but that I didn’t think she wanted her visit to end this way. I said, “Tell me three things you liked about the visit.” She said, “Nothing – I don’t know – I can’t think of anything.” We sat silently for a few minutes, then she said, “Fine! I liked being with my family and our friends, and I liked the Ethiopian food. That’s it. Only two things.” I praised her and told her I was glad she could think of some things she liked.

The visit was good. It was not at all like real life at home, but that’s okay.  I still had the feeling that being with us was not nearly as important as being away from her school and doing special things. Regardless, we created some good memories and shared some nice time together.

Thank you to all of you who prayed; we’re thankful for you.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Sadee
    January 13, 2014

    Thank you soooo much for sharing your journey with us, Lisa! I have tears in my eyes….I just feel such gratitude that you are willing to share your life with us….thank you. I am learning from you. My heart empathizes with you. I admire you. And I'm so happy Dimples could articulate her feelings and ask for what she needed in a respectful way – that seems like that would be amazing for almost any teenager to do!! With hope of what God can do, Sadee

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      Thank you, Sadee. I wrote this post thinking it was sort of boring, but I'm glad, that as part of our story, it is still helpful.

      Reply
  2. Bev
    January 13, 2014

    It is sooo goood that Dimples could tell you that she wanted to change the topic of conversation. It is a sign of mutual respect rather than operating only from reactivity to deep emotions without seeing others as real people who can respond in rational ways.

    As you wrote, it still is only a step in a good direction and there were other things that were difficult.

    You are doing a good job of staying with being OK with small steps. It is so normal to see something happen that you've waited a long time to see, and then to jump emotionally to thinking that all the pain is over now. I've done that too often. And it's ok to do that. After all, it's normal to hope the hard times are over.

    But you are doing a great job of being able to continue on when another hard thing rears its head. I'm glad you could keep yourself grounded while Dimples reacted to her feelings about leaving. Do nice things for yourself. It's a long road, and it doesn't take all the turns we wish it would, but it does take us to better places eventually. Celebrate along the way.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      Bev, so much wisdom here. I find it hard to see the small successes sometimes. Kathleen had to remind me that Dimples spontaneously hugged me a few times and seemed to be happy to be with me. When it was going badly on Friday, it was hard to remember that. It is a long road, to be sure. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Reply
  3. Luann Yarrow Doman
    January 13, 2014

    Huge steps. Becoming self aware is half the battle.
    Hugs to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      So true, Luann. Being able to understand what we are truly feeling in the moment takes years to learn – I'm still on that journey myself.

      Reply
      1. Luann Yarrow Doman
        January 14, 2014

        Me too. I suffer from anxiety, and it often manifests itself as anger and irritability. I often have to stop and ask my husband, "Is there something I'm supposed to be worried about?" 🙂

        Reply
  4. Emily
    January 13, 2014

    as a new commenter (and relatively new lurker), I just want you to know I've been thinking of you and wishing your family well for the weekend. I'm glad to hear the update, ups and downs, and hope to hear more about how it went. Know that you have another supporter.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      Thank you so much for commenting, Emily.

      Reply
  5. Elizabeth
    January 13, 2014

    I was anxious to hear how it went, thank you for the update. Those moments, as the one your described from the restaurant are "stunning!" It reminds me of a moment I had with my sister when I first arrived home for the holidays. Here's to more stunning moments!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      So true, Elizabeth, it is was very memorable. I hope your time with your sister was good.

      Reply
  6. Mary (Owlhaven)
    January 13, 2014

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you're taking small steps in a good direction.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      I think so. Good to hear from you, Mary.

      Reply
  7. kristine barr
    January 13, 2014

    Wonderful that she was able to verbalize how she was feeling. How did the other girls do with her? Were they scared of her or relaxed. If you thought this blog was boring– it wasn't. Loved hearing of the incremental progress.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 13, 2014

      Kristine, we only took Bee with us. They had an emotional meeting, which was honestly very beautiful and healing. The rest of the time they had fun together. Their time was limited and very supervised in order to avoid old patterns, and it went well.

      Reply

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