Friday, June 15, 2007

Finding Her Way

It's been a little over a week since we introduced Oakley to her forever home and family and we are all adjusting really well. We had a few bumpy days - really bumpy days. She was initially jealous of Sullivan (and mean to him), which I totally didn't expect, and she was TERRIFIED of Scrabble, our springer spaniel.

I thought she'd bond with Sullivan really quickly since he's the closest in age to her, but I think she was threatened by him. She was so mean to him at first -- she wouldn't say his name although she said it readily in China, wouldn't look at him, wouldn't answer him when he asked her questions, and essentially, tried to act like he didn't exist. When he and I would cuddle, or he'd just sit next to me on the couch, she would cover her eyes with her hands and sob, and she even tried to push him away a couple of times. It was HEARTBREAKING for me to watch, and although I knew where she was coming from, I felt so sorry for Sullivan. He was trying very hard to be patient and to be a good big brother. As his eyes filled with tears at her rejection, I couldn't help but feel angry at her. And then I felt guilty for feeling angry. And then I felt like, what the heck have we done?!? Then I felt guilty again for even thinking that. Those emotions, coupled with severe jet lag, were hard to handle and I'm thankful those days were short-lived.

This was the first issue we worked on. We firmly told her "no" when she was not being nice to Sullivan and then lavished some love and attention on him. We played ring-around-the-rosie together, he played blocks with her and let her knock over his towers, he took a bubble bath with her and I sat with them while Sullivan read her bedtime story. He's now her best buddy and she gleefully shouts "Sunninan!" whenever he enters the room. She also gives him lots of spontaneous hugs and will place her little hand in his own as they sit side-by-side in the backseat of the car.


Finally, I clearly see the relationship that has blossomed and will continue to develop between them. I know they will someday argue like brother and sister and I will cherish those days too, (okay, maybe not cherish, but I'll accept them), knowing that they are finally comfortable with their new roles in this crazy thing we call family.

As for Scrabble, he came home Sunday evening, looking freshly bathed and groomed (thank you Lori!). He was beyond happy to see his boys! He sensed right away that Oakley was terrified of him and he kept his distance, never once approaching her, jumping on her, trying to kiss her, or even investigate. Despite his impeccable manners, she screamed bloody murder, hoisted her legs up as far as possible and squeezed her eyes shut every time she saw him. I know that at the orphanage she had no exposure to animals and I knew that she was scared of dogs because she cried in China the few times we happened upon one. But I had no idea she would react to Scrabble this way. She shook uncontrollably and was genuinely terrified. She did this for a few days, but after repeated assurance, after seeing the boys play with him, after hearing us all tell her what a good dog he was, she finally began to watch him wearily without shuddering or screaming. She whimpered for days anytime he came near her, but even that, too, has pretty much subsided. And this morning, she actually reached out and petted him (ever so briefly) on her own initiative -- great strides for one brave little girl.

I guess I owe Hagan $5. He bet me that she would be okay with Scrabble by the end of the week. I should have had more faith in our little girl -- I've seen first-hand the obstacles she has already overcome. I will continue to claim that jetlag temporarily skewed my reasoning. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Oakley is finding her way in our family dynamic and finding her way into the hearts of everyone who meets her. We love this little girl, who now taps her chest and smiles as she proudly exclaims, "Oakley Xinxiang!"

13 comments:

Amy (from Richmond, KY) said...

I've been following your journey to Oakley and Wow! You all have had a rollarcoaster of emotions this past week. I've been eagerly waiting for an update. Thanks for sharing your story! You all sound like such a loving family. Oakley has been blessed to have you become her mommy.

Nicole said...

Laughing, crying, totally enthralled and can't wait to meet her. So when can I? Do you have a free day soon that I can pop in, maybe not with ALL my girls but with two? Just let me know. It's so hard to stay away! Love you!
PS Hope you got my message today

Adam and Cynthia Farley said...

It just takes time.....for all of you! That jet lag will knock you on your rear end! I am so glad that Oakley is adjusting so well (and Sullivan - God love him) what an incredible brother he is!!!

I can't wait to meet Oakley!!!

Love you
Cynthia

Francie said...

LOVE the picture of Oakley and Mamaw...I don't know who is smiling bigger :)

Lisa Porter said...

I am SOOOO relieved things are going smoother. Sullivan is pretty amazing too to have hung in there!

Not surprised that the jetlag kncked you on your derriere. You spent 2 weeks with your internal clock 12 hours upside down and then came home and switched it again.

Are you still having the Crop on the 29th or will you postpone it until life settles down a little more?

Lisa

Anonymous said...

Jana,
I can't wait to meet her! She's so cute and funny!
Darrah

Mom of 5 said...

We experienced that same kinds of things. It just takes time.
Sullivan is a trooper. Keaton was the same way-wanting to hug and be best buddies....Mia tended to push him away but now all is well.
Your pictures are beautiful !
It only gets better and better....

Caeleigh Whitt said...

Oakley,

I miss you so much, but it is so good to see you with your new family. I can tell they love you very much.

I also live in a home with three brothers. My best advice.. Remember your a princess, and it will take no time to get those brothers wrapped around your little finger. I love my brothers so much, they will do almost anything for me.

We will be in Lexington around August 1. I hope we can get together. I can not wait to see you.

God has been good to us!!

Your best friend forever,
Caeleigh Whitt

Jennifer said...

Yes - Oakley is an amazing little girl and so brave. I am just SO PROUD of Sullivan and his tenacity to see this through. We (Joanna and I) were almost in tears seeing him a little sad. Good Lord, I'm glad things are getting better with the dog... I think that was the hardest thing for us, too. Jet lag aside... I think your reasoning was just fine. It's just SO HARD to adjust to 100 things at once, and I think you handled it all very well. This is the hardest - best thing - you will ever experience in your life. Remember - you said it yourself.. otherwise, who would ever do it again? (and again...)

We love you all!

Anonymous said...

So glad she is doing well! I would love to see a packing list when you get around to it. Don't worry about getting it out right away, I know you are busy and tired! But whenever you have time, it will be greatly appreciated. :)

AnnaClaire's Jie Jie said...

Oh what cute pictures! She is darling. I'm so glad you are all doing well and she is getting better with your son and dog. Our AnnaClaire was terrified of our springer spaniel, Maggie, at first as well. It took a few days, but now they are the best of friends!

She's beautiful and I'm so glad she's enjoying her family!!! I love all those sweet smiles!

Anonymous said...

Okay Curd Family---
I am ready for a FAMILY PHOTO....I will gladly come and take one, anytime!!! Your blog is missing this one thing. Still amazed by the entire process and oh so happy Oakley now adores Sullivan, your littlest man.

Hope to see you soon,
Kendy

The Ferrill's said...

Oh Jana, what a beautiful post. It is so good to see Oakley's adjustment process and how far she is coming along (and your boys, too!) You're such a good mommy! Your blog really encourages me and gives me insight on what to expect in our journey--though I know everyone's is different!
Thank you for sharing your heart!
Laine