Friday, April 13, 2012

God Can Make All Things New

Aria has been a very changed girl the last couple of weeks. We have seen a slow change in her over the months that truly has been quite amazing. But I feel as if the last couple of weeks have shown the largest change in her, I think a great deal to her acceptance of her circumstances. For so long, she fought being here. As little as a few weeks ago, she indicated she thought she was still going back to China. After a long hard talk with Aria - again - about this home being her life now, it seemed that a light bulb finally went off. She asked me two questions after that talk. 1) "We're all done China?" This was something we have told her multiple times, but this is the first time she's ever acknowledged it. Her question was almost more of a statement. And 2) "I didn't have necklaces in China." Since that talk, she has found things almost daily to comment on about what she has here in America that she didn't have in China. Friends, I believe she has come to the stage of acceptance.


This is huge, because with acceptance comes hope. Aria has grieved, and grieved hard, these last several months of all that she has lost in China. And in her little mind, she lost a great deal more than what even existed for her there. We saw a great deal of her shock and denial while we were in China, particularly that first week she joined our family. We also saw her pain of leaving what she knew all her life into a world with a strange family with strange words and strange looks, food, and habits. We also saw her loneliness that first month as she would go off on her own, seemingly preferring to play alone and talk to herself in the mirror rather than be with us.

Looking back on the first three months of Aria's time home, I think we got the brunt of her anger. She was mad she was here, she wanted to go home, and she let us (particularly me) know about it. As her language improved, she was able to communicate the incredible loss she felt and how strongly she missed China, mama, and her friend Mei Mei. I think this surprised a lot of people that walked alongside our family because in wisdom, they realized Aria was taken away from a hopeless situation where she had very, very little. But to Aria, this was her home for 4 years. This was her people group, her friends, her land, her language, her food, her life. To not mourn such a profound loss would be even more surprising.

There were days we would see more of the girl that God made Aria to be. Days turned into weeks, and our hard days (at least as they once were) seemed to be disappearing. And then... acceptance. Aria has seemed to accept that we are her family, that this is her home, that she does have more of an opportunity for life and love here with us than she did in China.

Our family has had experience with grief. We know it comes in waves, and the fresh pain of it all can come out of nowhere like a blow to the stomach. We know that acceptance does not mean the end of the grieving process.

But acceptance is the first step to hope. And hope to joy. And the joy of the Lord is her strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

She is definitely a "huggy" girl (her love language is certainly physical touch). But more than ever she is showing love to us... to Chad, to JJ, to Elliana, and to me. I've noticed her countenance, which has been for so long a default of scowls and frowns, now turn to smiles and joy. I've noticed her delight in kindness rather than lashing out. This girl is changing. She is becoming new.

God can make ALL things new.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the Lighter Side

Lest anyone thinks we're all much too serious here at the Reickard home, here is a glimpse of mealtime with our three "comedians".

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Love

Last night I had a dream that Aria was going to be taken away from us to live with a temporary foster family. Never mind that she is legally adopted or any of the other logic of reality... this dream, I think, had a purpose that I needed to hear.

In this dream, I remember being so incredibly sad... sad that she would have to get adjusted to a new family again, that she would have to mourn all over again. I was also deeply sad to be losing her. I was going to miss her something terrible, this little girl that impacted my life more than I had realized.

And when I awoke, what came to my mind was gratitude. I was grateful it was only a dream. I was grateful that because of the deep sorrow I felt in my dream (and the residue that remained when I woke up), I was shown how much I have bonded with Aria. I hadn't realized... I didn't know... But now I do.

From my depths, love is growing in big ways over this little one. As difficult as the journey has been, as questions have gnawed in my mind and put doubts in my soul if God was sure that He got this one right, as each day goes into the next and growth is hard to measure, an amazing love from the Architect of all of this has pierced the walls that guard my heart. Really, I had no chance to keep that love out, no matter the protection I place around my heart. That's kind of the way the Maker of heaven and earth works when He lives inside of you.

Thank you Lord for revealing this to my heart and soul in such a kind and gentle way.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"I Like Boys"

It's been almost 5 months that Aria joined our family. Quite honestly, it feels like she's been with us a lot longer. It's hard to fully remember what it was like with just the 4 of us in the Reickard home.

The past month, we've seen definite growth in Aria. Although at times you can literally see the inward fight on her face and with her body language on whether or not to obey, she typically is compliant. Let's just say that her heart is getting softer, but we have a ways to go. Really, is that so different from the rest of us? It's just a bit more obvious to us right now with Aria.

Aria is very in love with her Daddy. This is something to rejoice in, as she is bonding strongly to someone in this household! And I would say that JJ is right up there with Daddy, if not tied with him in Aria's heart. The most interesting part of this is that when we met her, the two people she wanted the least to do with were Daddy and JJ. She took to Elliana and me much more quickly. The roles are definitely reversed, and Aria LOVES her Daddy. The other day she told me "I like Daddy so much. And I like China so much." In other words, Daddy is right up there with China in her little mind and heart. Not a bad place for him to be! Chad and JJ are the ones Aria wants to be with all the time. She loves playing with JJ, and honestly is consumed with all that is JJ. As for Daddy, well, her face is never brighter than when he walks into a room. She adores him.

Although that is a wonderful thing, here is a bit of the struggle I have with that. Elliana and I get to be on the receiving end of some of the more unkind behavior from Aria. Frowns, unkind words, and downright rejection get old after a while. Although I've gone through both Elliana and JJ going in cycles of having a "favorite" parent, this one with Aria can definitely hurt. I think it's because when Elliana and JJ played favorites between Chad and I, they would just ask for the other parent or want to go by that parent, but the relationship with the other parent was still a positive one. With Aria, I am bogged down because I am the primary person (as I'm home with her all week) to deal with the many heart issues that we are in the thick of, get the brunt of the side of her that is not very pleasant (as does Elliana), and then get greeted each morning with a "Where's Daddy?" The relationship with Aria and the girls here is not that easy even on a good day. I admit it... I'm struggling with some jealousy. Chad gets the role of fun, loving Daddy. He does correct her behavior when he's home, but the truth is that he doesn't get to see the rough sides of Aria nearly as much as I do. Perhaps she doesn't show those sides as often when he's home. Perhaps it's just because of the number of hours I get with her that it makes it more probable to see that side come out. Perhaps it's because she's saving that side for me as she's struggling with me more. Who knows - sometimes I analyze things to death. But the point is, Chad often gets the fun Aria, and I often get the not-so fun Aria. And I struggle with that. Not all the time. But I do struggle with that. I would love her to bond to me as she has to her Daddy. When really I should just be grateful she is bonding at all. Pretty self-centered of me, I know. I'm being real here, though.

Last week when Aria told me she liked Daddy "so much" in the same breath as liking China so much, I continued to probe. (I wasn't having a "take things too personally" night, so I was prepared to probe a bit.) She then told me she liked JJ "so much". I asked her if she liked Elliana "so much". She said, "I like boys." So then I asked her if she liked Mommy "so much". She replied, "You're a girl." So I continued, "Do you like Mommy so much, or do you not like Mommy so much?" She was hesitating to answer. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think it's because she likes both Elliana and I (she has said that to us before many times), but just doesn't like us "so much". (Only a few things are reserved for the special title of "so much".) I asked her a couple more times, and then she finally said yes, I think because she just finally gave up trying to tell me exactly how much she liked me.

After this, the thought struck me, as she said she liked boys, that boys may be a new thing to her. I asked her if she had boys in China. She said, "No, only in America." Her memory is getting fuzzy about China, but she said she didn't have any boys at the orphanage. (I suspect this could be true as in all the pictures of her at the orphanage, there were not any boys in any of the pictures.) She had a "mama" at the orphanage, but no Daddy. This boy thing is pretty special to her right now, whereas when we first met her she was scared of Chad and wanted nothing to do with JJ. It makes a bit of sense that when she met us, if she was not used to boys it was a little overwhelming for her - especially with a tall, hairy man like Chad and a pretty wild little boy like JJ! And now, well, she not only likes them, but likes them "SO much".

Big steps in some directions, baby steps in others. We're getting there. That's my new slogan in regards to where we are at with Aria... "we're getting there". And we're not quite 5 months from when we met her. I can only imagine how many changes we'll have when it's been a year!