Thursday, January 7, 2016


So here's a rundown of things we've been through these past months:

Gianna has been doing well in school.  She continues to learn and make progress.  She gets much one on one help.  At home she does homework supplied by a parent coordinator.  The parent coordinator comes once a month to bring me games and things that supplement what she's learning in the classroom.  This is nice, because it keeps her and I interacting when the evenings get to be so full, but it keeps up the expectation that homework happens every day.  She rode the bus for the first time this week!  It's a very long ride for her, but I think she likes it and it gives her a chance to diffuse before coming home.  We're trying it, anyway, and I think it's a positive thing for her.

We had Gianna dedicated in church.  She surprised us in her response to this.  We had prepped her some, but to avoid making her funky about the attention, we decided to dedicate her from our seat instead of going up front.  The pastors were so gentle about our wishes for her dedication.  We wanted it simple and understated.  Lots of attention still overwhelms her.  But when the pastor came to our seat to pray for her, we had planned for her just to stand next to us.  She wished to try to lay her hand on Gianna, but we weren't sure how she would respond.  I told her that she should try and if she turned away or withdrew, we would deal with it at that point.  It was to be the last part of the dedication.  Instead, Gianna turned towards her and looked right at her face the whole prayer.  She was very intent and I think she absorbed a lot more of the dedication than we may realize.  It was a surprise blessing.

Here we are reading our letter and prayer to her.

Also, Gianna got her hair cut!  She was looking forward to this for so long.  She wanted short hair like Riley in Inside Out.  She was a behavioral mess that day, and I feared we were not going to be able to go.  She pulled it together and we were able to go to our appointment.  She was so happy, and of course me too!

The finished product.  Doesn't she look so so so grown up???  *sniff* My beautiful girl.

The other biggest things have been our medical and counseling appointments.  Gianna had trouble gaining weight.  The first several months she was steadily losing.  At first they said it was because she was so much more active.  I tried switching her to whole milk, and pumping tons of calories in her food any way I could.  She was eating a whole lot better than when she first arrived home, so after these things didn't seem to change her weight much, I was concerned.  We started some Pediasure in the evenings at the advice of the adoption doctor, and are following her weight here with our local family doctor.  Finally she started gaining weight again!  What a relief.
She had her last appointment with the adoption doctor, which included another developmental test.  She blew me away with the results.  She has effectively closed the gap on many developmental elements.  She is now "average" in all but a few areas.  She's becoming developmentally more like a 7 year old!  So now we are following up with another test in 6 months just to watch how her language acquisition progresses.  Otherwise they wouldn't need to follow up at all.  That was very exciting.  Now we start taking her to a regular family doctor to manage the rest of her care.  Updating her immunizations, following her weight, and regular checkups.  That feels like a milestone!
I would like to think that every part of Gianna is like a typically developing 7 year old, but that would be far from the truth.  Some areas not tested at the adoption doctor - but very important - are her emotional and attachment health.  We knew before we even got a referral that we were going to be taking our new child to adoption/attachment/trauma therapy.  This is proving to be a good idea.  Gianna is showing us the depth of her unresolved grief and has displayed many signs of attachment difficulties. Our therapist has guided us through the beginning stages of healing Gianna's heart and mind.  We have started leading her through learning initiative, internal motivation, about the routines of a family, what happens when we get mad or sad, and roles of parents and children.  It's been a ride to be sure, and Gianna has given us much behavioral challenges.  We are hopeful that she will grow into an individual that can give and receive love in a family, enter into mutually gratifying relationships, and realize her great worth.

You're worth it, Gianna.  We love you!!!