Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Overdue Update

As most of you know, we finally got to travel to DRC and bring our daughter home!!  It was a long and very complicated process that I intend to write in detail about at some point.  I also plant to write about our time spent in DRC and what it was like meeting Emmalyn for the first time. But for now, I would like to do a quick update.

We left AZ on November 4 and arrived in DRC on November 6.  It seemed like it took forever to get there!!  Our "gotcha" day was November 7- a day that I will remember for the rest of my life!

First meeting at the orphanage

Our paperwork moved quickly while we were in country, and we received our exit letter from the DGM in just a week!  It was bittersweet for us leaving DRC.  We truly enjoyed our time there.  It was hard for me to believe that we were taking our daughter from the only home she had ever known and taking her to a place that would be totally different.  I was upset for her.  While there are tons of "bad" things that people can point out about DRC, I can see the beauty more than I can see anything else.  When God showed us that we needed to adopt from the DRC, I believe He gave us a love for the country and people that will never go away.  However, as much as we loved our time, we also missed our kiddos at home.  We couldn't wait for them to meet Emmalyn and finally start living life as a family under one roof.

First night at home

I would like to try to answer some of the most common questions that we have gotten about our sweet girl.  If you have questions that aren't answered, feel free to ask and I will try to respond to those on a different post.

So, what has it been like since Emmalyn has been home?

Busy, fun, crazy, hard, wonderful.  Yes, all those words.  She has adjusted extremely well- much better than I expected.  Please do not take that as I am saying everything is perfect.  It's not.  BUT, it has gone much better than I expected.  I was preparing myself for the worst.  Every picture that we received of her for a year was of no smile, really no expression at all. Even the videos we had of her were of her sitting, not moving, no expression.  I was preparing for a child that wanted nothing to do with us.  That hasn't been the case at all.  But that's not to say that she can't throw a really good fit.  She's got a great poochy lip :)

How would you describe Emmalyn?

Beautiful, Funny, Concerned, Giggly, Opinionated, Perfect for our family!

She has the most beautiful smile and the best laugh.  She loves to joke around.  She loves clothes and prefers the color pink over all the others.  She loves sparkles (she has two pair of sparkle shoes).  She is definitely a girly girl :)

She LOVES to eat!  I thought for the first couple of weeks we weren't going to be able to afford to feed her :) She seriously ate so much!  That has started to slow down though.  She is even starting to be a little picky about the things she eats.  Her favorite foods are pizza, spaghetti, chicken, and rice.  While in Congo, she ate chicken and rice everyday (sometimes 3 times a day).  I thought we would be eating that forever. But now, pizza is her absolute favorite. 

She is a very strong-willed child.  Very persistent.  She hardly ever accepts "no" for an answer the first or second time :)  She can throw a huge fit when she doesn't get her way.  However, that's becoming less and less as time goes on. 

How is her English coming?

She is doing well learning English.  She understands most of what we say, though we still use Lingala words some.  She is speaking less of Lingala, but still does quite a bit.  She does a great job using both languages together to get her point across.  For example- She will start out a sentence with many Lingala words and then end it with Brayden or Ella and sometimes a gesture.  She does this when she is telling on them:) 

She is learning sentences.  She says, "I want a drink."  or "Mama, I eat." or "Mama, I play."  Overall, she is doing well.  I really, really hope that she will be able to learn English and still keep Lingala.  I know it will be hard, but we are going to try.

What is her name?

Her name is Emmalyn Jewell Benedicte Gibbs.  Emmalyn comes from my maternal grandmother, Emma.  Jewell comes from my paternal grandmother, Jewell is her middle name and was also my great grandmother's name.  Benedicte was her name in Congo.  It means "blessing".  She is, in fact, a blessing to our family so we chose to keep it in her name.

How old is she?

She turned 4 years old on December 6 so we were able to celebrate her birthday with her this year!  We don't know for sure that that day was her official birthday, but it's the day that was given to us and we decided to keep it.  The doctor believes that it is fairly accurate so we are going with it.

What happened for her to become an orphan?

We get this question a lot.  It most often comes in the form of "What happened to her real parents?" While I know what you mean when you say that, it is better to use the term biological parents.  Because I am real.  Eric is real.  So we are her real parents  (It would be good to remember this when talking to adoptive families.  Sometimes it hurts our feelings. It also confuses our children.)

But back to the main question.  We feel that this is something that is very personal to our daughter and do not feel that it is appropriate to share with everyone.  She can decide one day when she is older if she wants it shared or not.  The truth is, we don't really know that much anyway.  We are trying to find out more, and we don't want to share things that are not true or that would be hurtful to our daughter.

Why did they shave her head?

She had a fungal infection on her head when we arrived in DRC.  Fungal infections on the scalp get into your hair follicles.  In order to treat effectively, you have to shave the head and treat with the proper medicine.  If not, the hair will not grow back in those places and there will be bald patches. 

We have been giving her the proper medicine and her hair is growing back nicely.  I think I'm gonna miss her short hair if/when it gets long.

What are you working on with her?

Obviously, communication.

Potty training.  She does really good during the day, but still has issues at night.

Teaching her how to play.  She loves toys for a couple of minutes.  Then she is right back at my side.  She would rather help me with the laundry, or the dishes, or cooking, or just about anything else.  She wants to be with me all the time.  While I love that and understand her wanting to do that, I also want her to be a child.  To know what it's like to just wake up and have to play all day without worrying about anything else. 

Well, I need to wrap things up for tonight.  I plan to talk about our trip to DRC and the end of our adoption process in the next several posts so check back soon if you are curious about those things.

We are so thankful that God brought this precious little girl in our lives!  She is just perfect for our family- a true blessing!