Parents who are adopting internationally, as we are, are taught to be prepared for a number of possible institution-related behaviors. Some children are taught to self-soothe by sticking their finger in their ear or sucking on the corner of a towel. Some children rock themselves constantly for stimulation. Others, coming from a situation where food has been limited, hoard food in pockets or overeat for fear that the abundance of food may not continue. Some children do not cry in the beginning, becuase they have learned that crying brings no comfort, no result. Nannies are not able to respond to every child every time they cry. So, many children just stop doing it. There are a thousand other variables, and every child is different.
Recently, I was reading a post by a fellow adoptive parent about some unique tendancies she was facing with her daughter. This precious girl, adopted from an orphanage internationally as an older child, was in the habit of hiding odd little things around the house. Eventually, her mom asked why she was doing this. Her reply, "I've never had things that belong just to me, and I want to hide my things now. I don't know why. I know that no one will take them here, but I can't help it."
It had not really occured to me until reading this post that children living in many orphanages have no personal belongings. Of course, this makes sense. It would be a logistical nightmare to keep up with whose clothes were whose if you were doing laundry for over 100 kids. I think that one of the small joys of our early days with Grace will be giving her things that will belong to her. I wonder how long it will take for the concept of "belonging" to occur to her. How long will it take for her little mind to comprehend that the doll that I've kept next to my computer for the past 15 months is hers to keep? How long will it take for her trust in us to build and for her to realize that she belongs with us?
One of our first big opportunities to show her that she belongs here will come on the day that we bring her home. My mom and dad just spent the past week here helping me prepare Grace's new room. It is wonderfully soft and girly, and I love it. I find myself walking by and just staring into the room, trying to imagine her sleeping under her soft blanket in the crib that her Daddy just put together.
I know that trust will come only through patience and time. But I think it is going to be a wonderful experience teaching this little one that she is our daughter, and she always will be.
Seth's old dresser got a new life with paint, glass knobs, and a wood applique.
A lovely shower gift that matches her room perfectly!