As she tried to run the orphanage director out of the room, then cried and flailed in my arms for a half an hour before passing out, she made it very clear she was not happy and not sure of what was going on. I can't blame her. Poor little thing had been in a small orphanage since she was a day old and had probably never been outside those walls. She had never been in a car, then the day before we met her, she was driven over 8 hours on bumpy roads to this room. To this room where for the first time she saw white people with weird curly hair and was then handed over to those scary looking people. That's a lot for anyone to handle let alone a 12 month old.
We discovered that at a year old she could not crawl, feed herself finger foods or be fed from a spoon. The only thing she wanted and was familiar with was a boiling hot bottle of milk. If it was not made with boiling water, she would not take it.
In those first days and weeks were night terrors, only wanting to be held by me 24/7, sickness, and cries for her orphanage nannies while she slept. Loving someone you barely know is hard. Loving someone who doesn't yet love you back is hard. Loving someone in the midst of trauma is hard. Loving someone when they only push you away is hard. But loving them where they are, in a way they can accept it, and without expecting it in return is vital.
Within 4 days she was smiling, clapping, crawling, waving, signing "thank you," saying "dada" and responding to the name Zoe Xiu. She was starting to bond, although still very cautious and unsure.
After two weeks of living in hotels with her in China, we finally arrived back in the states. When we got to the house, she just seemed to know she was finally home. She LOVED Arella from the very first minute and started walking right after we got home, trying to keep up with this fast moving big sister.
It was a bumpy road. It was hard. It was awesome. We wouldn't change it for the world. Over the last year Zoe has blossomed into a little toddler and loves her family very much. Happy Gotcha Day my spicy peanut, and thank you for adding so much love, giggles and joy to our family!
+ LOVE =
Fear and a Stranger
Happy with Mommy
Sisters from day 1
Quick to love