When I look at pictures of Bella, her beauty catches me off guard. She has a heart shaped face and beautiful features! But deep down inside she has a hurt, she came to us with it and at times I think it is healed ...until it rears it's head again. I've said before, that I am certain Bella experienced some form of abuse/neglect before she came to us. When she came home she was just a shell of a girl. I remember the doctor saying that she thought Bella was a failure to thrive baby. Bella came to us totally shut down. Whether it was physical or mental I don't know. What ever happened in China is locked deep inside somewhere. Could it be the trauma of being abandoned at birth? I don't think that is it. I can remember trying to cuddle her and I could feel her stiffen. She would never let me hold her bottle. She would rather starve! I rocked her to sleep for over a year with out ever getting an ounce of affection from her. It was so hard for me to bond to her. I was doing all the work and getting nothing in return. I tried EVERYTHING the attachment therapist recommended, everything the play therapist recommended and we didn't get much in return. In addition, she was non verbal for a long time. I remember asking the speech therapist if Bella would ever speak. At one point when Bella was 3 she was getting speech therapy, play therapy, attachment therapy, occupational therapy and special education services. I can remember going to China to pick up John Jr. I missed Bella SO MUCH. I could not wait to get home to see her and she totally snubbed me at the airport. I remember feeling so hurt and wondering if she would ever love me. Well.......the mother warrior in me never let me give up. I did so much praying. I remember that I would receive Holy Communion in church and come back to my seat and cry. I would just pray for Bella to make some kind of break through. I also felt like an incredible failure as a parent! I would rock Bella to sleep and whisper how proud I was to be her mother and how much I loved her and she would stare blankly at the floor.
Present day.......I can't tell you exactly when Bella and I bonded as mother and daughter. But it did finally happen. Bella got a string of illnesses and through the process of caring for her when she was sick...the bonding came . Up until that point Bella had never gotten sick. She had nary a sniffle for almost 2 years. The pediatrician felt she was so stressed......still.....that her little body stayed in "fight or flight"mode and she never let her guard down! That caused her to not be sick. All of sudden I felt the difference in our relationship and she spent the next month being sick! She practically laid on my lap for a month. From that moment on......she is SO ATTACHED that she is always by my side or on my lap or in my bed sleeping on top of me. Bella is almost 5 and still loves being rocked to sleep on my lap. I can tell you that Bella loves me and John with all her being. If she steps on my toe and i say ouch....she breaks down in tears...big tears....remorseful tears. She loves me in a way that makes my heart swell. Bella is now expressive of her love for me and I believe no one has ever loved me as much as Bella. When she climbs into bed with us at night, she will stare in my face until I open my eyes and when I do she gets this huge grin on her face!
However, at 4 yrs old( almost 5 ) it is time for her to spread those tiny wings...a little. Or is it? She is having difficulty in school. Even though she is gone only 3 hours....she is struggling. Today, her teacher called to tell me that she is melting down in class and crying for me. Both teachers have been unable to quiet her down. She just wants her mommy. She doesn't want to go to school, she says she just misses me so much. How do I help her? It took 4 years to convince her I'd always be there and I feel like I'm letting her down. I asked her today what was going on and she said " why do you send me away everyday....I just want you" . My eyes filled up with water and I didn't have a good answer. I have spent years talking her through the fact that I will always be there for her. I cant stand to watch my baby suffer. The school doesn't want me to come pick her up and I don't want her feeling abandoned by me. She often wakes up crying for me in the night and when I ask what is wrong she says she doesn't want to go to school. I am so confused. She has been in pre school 6 months and I thought she would have adjusted by now. I am so tempted to just with draw her from preschool. I am struggling with this decision!