Saturday, September 24, 2011

One of the Gang

Today marks 3 weeks since we boarded the plan to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to bring home Penny Love.  What had begun in our hearts as a nudge from God finally was coming to fruition - we were actually becoming her family!  All of the months of preparation, of reading, of praying, of talking with the kids about what she may or may not need from each of us boiled down to this.  After all, we had really no idea what her personality was like.  We had only spent 4 hours with her on our previous trip (2 of which she was sleeping) and had no way to know what her little life would bring...  We do NOW!!

I sat on that plane, just like I had for so many months, praying about her heart to be soft for our love.  I prayed for her caregivers that had to say goodbye to her - that they would receive comfort from the Lord and be blessed by what a blessing they had been to our little girl.  I prayed for Penny to remember my smell and the sound of Dustin and I's voices when we were reunited-  which seemed like an insurmountable task, given the brevity of our prior visits with her.  But I also was anxious - just being honest here - about how she would fit in.  Would she be shy and introverted?  Would she be strong willed and driven?  Would she take years, like so many of the books I read on bonding cautioned, to bond with us as a family?  I had prepared my heart for the very worst.  I had prepared my heart for a child who didn't know how to trust, how to show joy, how to give and receive affection.  I knew that whoever God had for us, Penny was IT.  She had been handpicked to be a DeMaio and whomever she was, I was going to love her unconditionally.  But, selfishly, I must admit that the child that we have brought home and begun to enjoy is blowing me away with gratefulness.

She is our bucketful of sunshine.

Even when I say that, it makes me laugh because we have come to find out through trial and error that when Penny was at Acacia Village they must have had them stand in a basin outside for bath time, lathered them up with soap and then poured buckets full of water over her head.  For the first few weeks we sat her down in the tub, played with toys in the water and splashed.  But just this week Penny stood up when I put her in the tub.  And then she said "Ayah" which we have come to understand is Penny language for "I want that" and she pointed at the plastic stacking bucket that I use for her hair.  I scooped up some water and poured it over her head.  You would have thought that girl was having a heart attack - her arms flailed at her sides, her eyes got as big as saucers and that infectious smile took over her entire face as she screamed with delight.  "More" she said and signed to me (she's learned lots of words, some with the sign to go with them already!)  This girl loves having bucketfuls of water poured over her head - so funny.  So, you see what I mean when I say she is our "bucketful of sunshine" - she just radiates fun and joy.

She has adjusted to life as a DeMaio like she's been one of the gang all along.  She loves a good game of "Where's Penny?" and laughter runs through her veins.  She wakes up happy and babbles up a storm.  Most of what she says we have no clue of, but a few words she has learned:  Hi.  Bye-bye.  All done.  Puppy.  Baby.  More.  Mamaye (that's me!).  Abate (aka Daddy).  Eyes.  Nose.  Car.

She puckers up like a fish to hand out kisses to us and must have learned to blow kisses at the orphanage because if I'm too far away to reach, she blows kisses instead.

I am amazed at how quickly she is picking things up and how much she already understands of what we say to her.  Dustin had her without me last weekend for 4 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday and we weren't sure how she would do - but she had a blast playing with daddy.  Monday came and it seems that Dustin's time away at work leaves her a little bit foggy as to his role in her life, because she takes some time warming up to him when he comes home each evening.

But I realize we are still "honeymooning" as a family and that the grieving of the loss of her caregivers and country may present themselves in a variety of ways as we continue to grow together.  She has had a few moments of intense crying with no real provocation which leads me to believe that she is beginning to digest the changes that are really taking place in her life.  I remind myself when she pushes me away or sticks her little leg out to kick one of us if she doesn't get her way that her fear will often present itself as anger and control.  I am constantly trying to remain aware of the ginormous effort and energy she is putting in to learning her new life.  It is no wonder that she is sleeping so well at night - her heart, mind, soul and spirit are pouring every ounce of effort she has to give into being "one of the gang".

And, still, she is in every way our bucketful of sunshine!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for so transparently sharing your new life with Penny !! It is so awesome to hear the stories of how you are all adapting !! Thank you again and God bless your whole family, and again, her caregivers and country !!