As the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I want to make a list of all the things about Kerri I am grateful for:
I am thankful that Kerri has learned to trust us.
We were strangers when she was placed in our arms. She had never seen anything like us before, nor heard our language. We smelled different too. For a long time, she held on to the fear that we too would abandon her. So she would constantly be in survival mode: trying to please us, or pushing limits to see if we would give up. The trust took a long time to build, and was tested many times over. But I think we are finally over that hurdle, and Kerri is now free to be herself without worrying that her behavior would cause us to leave her. And she is not afraid to tell us anything - even when she thinks she may get into trouble.
I am thankful that Kerri's attachment issues are less prevalent with each passing day.
I am not that naive to think they will magically disappear some day. I know she will deal with this her entire life in some way. And although she still works hard to deal with some of her issues, she really has come such a long way. Gone are the RAD rages. No longer does she have to co-sleep. She no longer gorges or hides food. Kerri still needs the lights on at night, still needs us there with her until she falls asleep, but no longer has the horrific night terrors. Nightmares are few and far between.
I am thankful that Kerri survived serious medical issues that were not disclosed to us when we adopted her.
She recovered from RSV and a long hospital stay. Kerri had her skull re-shaped, and needed glasses right away. She had lead poisoning, salmonella, and dealt with the effects of drinking counterfeit formula in China. She recovered from the melamine damage to her gastric system and kidneys. She was malnourished, and this affected her eyes, teeth and her development. And she is dealing very well with her asthma and psoriasis.
I am thankful that Kerri is not an introvert.
Her Daddy and I are introverts. So it is interesting. We are grateful she is not afraid to try new things, take risks, and make friends. She embraces life and every challenge. And she is loving team activities: like Girl Guides, and Kung Fu. She says "Hi!" to everyone she meets, and is not shy about it.
I am thankful that she is learning good habits from us, not just the bad habits.
Kerri has a big heart, and is always helping someone. She loves to laugh and has an incredible sense of humor. She loves music and art, and is extremely creative. She has what seems to be an unending curiosity for learning. And a fascinating imagination. Her vocabulary astonishes me. And she loves to talk, and loves to read.
I am thankful that Kerri's sensory processing disorder has not greatly affected her.
This has yet to be seen, since it is causing some concerns at school. She still "tunes out" when she concentrates on something, which could be dangerous, and also affect her learning. And there seems to be some concern with how her mind works too. She "sees" things differently. She can do a puzzle upside down and backwards. She can write that way too. We are not sure yet if she is dyslexic. And she is still clumsy and sensory seeking in her behaviour. But so far, she is focusing very well in Kung Fu, and is learning a great deal.
I am thankful that Kerri's phonological delay is decreasing.
She can now be understood 60% of the time. And she has learned several new sounds. She works hard to pronounce sounds correctly. And her delay has not intimidated her in any way, she feels comfortable speaking and does not get frustrated as often.
I am thankful that Kerri is a normal height and weight.
Her medical issues have not affected her growth, and she is tall and fit. She is currently over 50 pounds and wearing size 7 tops and size 6X bottoms. And a size 13W shoe. She turned 6 in September, and she seems to be the same height and weight as her peers in school.
I am thankful that Kerri challenges me.
She can be stubborn sometimes. But she is always logical. And she has taught me that love and patience can get through the hurt and the fear. She did not love me right away, and I had to earn her love and trust. She did her best to push me away, and some of her RAD rages left me crying at night, wondering if we could ever reach her. And as quick as she is now to hug and kiss me, she is even quicker to point out when I do or say something she perceives as "wrong". She chastises me if I put my elbows on the table. If I say "stupid", I have to take a time out for saying a "bad" word.
I am thankful that Kerri embraces her identity.
We are a blended family, and each of us are different. Daddy is Canadian and French, Irish and Catholic. Mommy is American, Argentinian, German and Jewish. Kerri is very aware that she is Chinese, and all of the above. And she embraces her differences. She loves Kung Fu because there are several Chinese children in the class, and her teachers are Chinese. She loves Chinese foods, the Chinese supermarket, and learning about her heritage. She loves how she looks, and compares herself to Fa Mulan. She wants to learn Mandarin and return to China some day. And she wants to adopt Chinese girls. And at the same time, she embraces our ethnicity too. When you ask Kerri what she identifies herself as, she says: "I am Chinese-American-Canadian-Jewish".
I am thankful that G-d and China trusted me to be Kerri's Mommy.
Life with Kerri is something I waited a very long time for. And it was worth the wait.