Friday, February 26, 2010


Imagine having the same caregiver for over 6 years and then suddenly being taken from them, given to people who do not speak your language, being told you have a new mom and dad and then leaving your country with people who are basically strangers. I think it's safe to assume that none of us would be cool with the idea. Everything that has happened to Claire is equivalent to someone dying and that person would be like her mom; grief is sure to follow.

We only saw Claire get upset and ask for her nai nai (grandma) once, after that initial day, while we were in China. This was the afternoon of her vaccinations when she was tired and not feeling well. It didn't last long but it was a window into what we would probably see more of at home, and we have.

A few days ago Emily printed out a dot-to-dot for each of them to complete. Claire finished hers and I asked her if she wanted to color it; she told me no. I didn't push the issue and went upstairs to get ready. I came back down and the pictures were colored and I told her how great it looked. She was mad, very grumpy and pouty so I asked what was wrong. She didn't say anything and then went upstairs and sat on her bed crying. I followed her and held her on my lap. She eventually stopped crying but was still very withdrawn. Then Emily came upstairs and she was very upset as well. It seems that Claire got upset when Emily tried to show her what color the giraffe should be colored. I tried to tell Emily that it probably had nothing to do with her coloring on Claire's paper but something else. It could have been that she colored with her grandma or she saw giraffes at the zoo with her grandma and this brought back the memory, or it might have been as the oldest child in her foster family she was in charge and never had someone else show her how to do something. We will probably never know but I think it's safe to assume that it was definitely grief.

Today, Claire and I ran some errands. Our first stop was the school because Matthew forgot his lunch. On the way there I stopped rather quickly when a light changed red. I looked back at Claire and she gave me a very dirty look and was not happy with me. Then at the school I asked her if she wanted to go to school and she told me no. I stayed excited and told her she gets to go here in 20something days and again she said no.
After that we needed to run to Sams Club. Before leaving the house I fed her a banana because she told me she was hungry but after the school she told me she was hungry again. I found some goldfish in a baggy from a few days earlier and gave those to her. She didn't say anything or eat them before getting to Sams Club (she likes them because she has eaten before). When we got there and I opened the door she burst out in tears, just sobbing and uttered one word- nai nai.
I unbuckled her, held onto her and let her cry; there isn't really much you can say but I told her I loved her and "I know." She withdrew so much that she took off the crocheted hat that she had on. I gave it to her yesterday after Emily had one on and told her I made it. Yesterday her eyes lit up when she realized I made it for her but today she didn't want it on, at all. That was her way of putting up a wall, I think.

We perused around Sams Club; I got her a pretzel because she was hungry and she perked up a bit. Then, when almost home she started singing songs in Chinese. If she's happy when she's singing she enjoys entertaining people but if she starts singing when she's quiet and withdrawing it means she's about to start crying. I'm not sure if singing when she's sad brings China back to her or if she is trying to win our love or approval by singing because maybe she was told to? I don't know. Upon pulling into the driveway she started to get upset and I looked back to see the "I'm about to vomit" face. I hurriedly got her out of the van and she proceeded to vomit in the yard. I'm still not 100% convinced that her vomiting is motion sickness. We've given her medicine a few times since getting home but we've driven almost every day. She's only vomited twice in the car and today and both times were when she got quiet; today was worse though. I don't know if the vomiting is something she does when she's upset or if the stress brings on the motion sickness.

One thing I do know is that it will get better. This time she went 5 days in between grief episodes and from reading stories of other older adopted children the episodes should get spaced farther and farther apart the longer she is home. Right now when thinking about her grandma she gets sad and just like grieving the death of a loved one, eventually she will remember China and her grandma with a good feeling rather than a sad feeling.


  1. Our eight year old was doing the vomiting too, and at first I thought it was motion sickness, until she did it at home BEFORE going anywhere a couple of times. I think it was definitely stress related. We've been home a month and have now gone our first full week without throwing up, so I'm hoping she's gotten past that. I explained to her that if she throws up it means she's sick and we can't go anywhere - I think she stopped right after that : )

  2. Oh, this post brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the grief all of our children must still be feeling. It's something I know but don't think about so much until there is a time when either Philip or Elijah will do or say something to remind me that they are still in grief. Philip, thankfully, doesn't have those episodes any longer after being home since July 2008, but clearly Elijah still struggles.

    Praying for your sweet girl to heal from her grief. Hugs to you all -

    Janet, Kevin, Ted, Philip, and Elijah