It's not that Sofia is not happy, because this child is SO FULL OF JOY. It's that she has such a deep seed of mistrust and fear of letting go and passing the reins of control over to us, that she has this internal battle going on in her tiny two year old soul. She has extreme mood swings. Part of this, we've come to know, is simply her personality...but there are times that I can so clearly see her internal struggle....her fear of letting go of that control and just letting Shawn and I take care of her. She is so independent because she learned to be that way....she adapted to not having parents for her first 15 months of life...she adapted SO WELL that now that she DOES have us, it's taking some time for her to fully allow us to meet all of her needs. We are being very intentional about teaching her to communicate her NEEDS to us.
If left up to her, Sofia would not ask Shawn or I for a single thing all day long. She'd rather follow her sisters to the table and sit there and wait to be fed. She'd rather go the the drawer with bowls, pull one out herself, and open up the snack cupboard and get her own snack, than ask us for help...because SHE CAN. As you can see, her extreme independence, which would normally be a good thing for a child with a typical family history, actually complicates things. She IS learning, though, to ask us to meet her needs. We've seen this primarily in the area of seeking comfort when sad or hurt. She's made SO much progress here! When she was newly home she used to bang the back of her head repeatedly on the walls and floor. We still see that behavior now and again when she is particularly stressed, but the majority of the time she's seeking us out for comfort, giving better eye contact, asking me to sing to her over and over again, allowing me to rock her and sing to her with full-on eye contact, a completely relaxed body and soul, and contentment. She's getting there, slowly but surely. Part of Sofia's personality is just very "I can do it myself," so even if her early life circumstances were different, I think she'd still have a pretty independent fiery personality. It's definitely been a bit of a battle over this past year....
As I mentioned in my last post, she's going through a stage where she gets very anxious in social situations with people other than us. She does not like when other people talk to her, it makes her very uncomfortable! I've said it before, but somehow this wild child has a very shy side outside of her comfort zone! We're teaching her to safely respond to other people by holding her and asking her to give them a high-5, playing peek-a-boo with new people, and other little games that take the stress off the situation for her. Shawn and I wonder if she's afraid someone else will take her away from us....a touch of separation anxiety compounded by her lack of parental bond early in life. Whatever it is, it's a pretty wicked stage! Christmas was particularly difficult for her, between the change in routine and having company.
I feel like recently Sofia and I have made some major progress in our relationship lately. I'm trying harder to be more intentional with her, and spending more 1-1 time with her. She is so very different when she has that completely undivided individual attention...she seeks it, she needs it, she LOVES it! Today she and I have a special date planned, just the two of us. We're going to celebrate surviving this first year together, we're going to celebrate our beautiful, crazy, messy, sometimes clumsy relationship with one another. Over the past year, Sofia has taught me so much! Among these things are PATIENCE, LOVE as an action, JOY...oh I've never known a child who has such a gift of instantly transferring joy from her heart to mine.....and she's also taught me what danger signs to look for after a concussion (I joke, I joke, well okay that is not really a joke but maybe I shouldn't have put it on the end of such a serious sentence!! :) ) Sofia has challenged me in so many ways as a mother...many times I second guess myself about how I'm parenting her.....I guess that's normal for most mamas though. I would not ever want to live life without Sofia-she certainly fills a place in my soul that nobody else ever could, but I often joke that if she was our first, she may have been our last :) Her personality is bigger than life itself....she's got a whole lot of spunk and sass in that cute little 27 pound, 2 year old package, oh yes she does!
Looking back as I write this post, I realize she has made so so much progress since being home. When I go back and read my old posts, I am reminded of some of the struggles I'd since forgotten! Her food struggles were so difficult and they are now completely GONE! Most of her orphanage behaviors are gone.! She isn't terrified of riding in the car anymore! She has clear likes and dislikes. She loves music, Elmo (who doesn't?), loves swinging, and she is the best cleaner-upper around! She thrives on routine, she knows how to make us laugh.....and I mean BELLY laugh! She loves her sisters and her family...she knows we're "her people." Her gross motor skills are phenomenal...so much in fact, in a few months she'll probably be dismissed from physical therapy. She is very willing to try new activities in our home, has a very high frustration ceiling, and can focus on tasks for a great amount of time. She is an amazing problem solver, very good at puzzles, and loves exploring her environment. Her smile and laugh could melt even the coldest heart (and her mad scream could break even the thickest windows ;)). She LOVES being outside. She has a connection with nature that is rare for a child her age. She loves the wind in her face and the sun shining down. Sofia is very curious and likes to push the boundaries to see how far she can go. We've recently seen her showing empathy for others, something that was initially lacking. The Lord is restoring our sweet Sofia to the child He always intended for her to be. It's not always an easy thing, but it's always a beautiful thing...especially when I take the time to reflect on what an amazing ride this past year has been!
HAPPY ONE YEAR HOME SOFIA JOY!