Sunday, February 13, 2011

ellis in the off-roading chair

you may already be aware that my girl is beautiful. cuz it's true. she is (*smiles*). we're completely biased but the world seems to agree. and she has this inner confidence that i deeply admire. the ability to look at herself in the mirror (literally) and say, "ooooh, so pretty" at herself. we could all learn to do the same, you would think. but then, i don't have her eyes, her lips, her smile... right? but i'm certain i could, if i'd work on having her outlook, her attitude, her spirit, her joy. and even though every week she wishes she could stand or walk, this outlook never changes. girl is happy, period. and even when she isn't happy, she finds her way back to it.

i will add she's also brilliant. i knew she was smart because she just seemed pretty smart to me when when she was able to memorize her books after 2 or 3 readings. i learned after her most recent IEP (individual education planning meeting) that our kid is SMART with a capital S.M.A.R.T.... and kinda knows it. we are working on that. she got a little "boss" in her, and thankfully boss isn't too big yet. but i have to admit i felt incredibly proud of her, considering the insurmountable odds this child has had to overcome in such a short time. i don't share this often at all, but she was sent to her first orphanage to a palliative care unit that is run by Hope Foster Home in order to be made comfortable. a sort of Hospice if you will. and when she was sent to Beijing in hopes of saving her life, the outcome was grave. post surgery there were complications, infections, and i have one photograph that shows a very sick little infant girl struggling for her life. and then there were problems later, with her right leg, leading to more infection and blood blisters and wounds that were so deep that her bone was exposed. she grew up surrounded by loving ayis only to be taken from them and moved back to that same orphanage a province away, where she lived for a month before 2 strangers came to take her again... from everything she has ever known. at the chinese market this past week, we picked up a package of her favorite crackers that she tells us all the time she ate in china. what precious memories we fight to hold onto.

i digress.

so, my pride stems ultimately from knowing what she has faced, what this tiny body has endured, and the kind of person that has emerged from those struggles. she can write her entire alphabet, upper and lower case, without any help- apparently that is exceptional for a 4 year old (she was doing this a few months ago). her audio-visual processing scores were "well above" average and her attention to detail was "phenomenal" (in the words of her educators). she can dress herself. this is an enormous feat for a child who can't move her right leg and can barely move the left. she can write her full name and mine, recognizes all her classmates names, hands out their folders to them, etc and her recall for dates, months, days of the week is mind blowing. i can't remember the day of the week, but she does. and she knows her routine better than i do.

and this week? when she contracted another urinary tract infection, she cried for 2.5 hours straight without stopping. as G said, it was like a breakthrough for her emotionally. she didn't even cry this long in China that i can remember. she'd have meltdowns that would last about 45m-1hr multiple times throughout the day, but nothing like this. and it happened again yesterday. for no reason. she is 100% better, had slept for 1.5 hours, ate a great lunch. so, the tears came without reason. we laid together while she cried and when she was finished i asked what was making her feel so upset, and she said, "I don't know Mama".... i don't know, Mama. i told her that's okay, that sometimes it just hurts inside and sometimes we don't know why. and she got angry at me this week, and expressed it in a healthy way! bonus! 1.5 years in this country, and trust is such a precarious, delicate, precious element in our relationship.

it's difficult to look at this child and not think: you are remarkable. exceptional. magnificent.

i don't know how it is that i am so blessed, so honored to spend this life with you, E.


  1. E is loved and adored. Lucky family....

    The crying? Emotional dams what I call it. Only so much for so long and then our minds make more room I believe. If we didn't we would stop feeling entirely and unfortunately too many people end up there when they don't have a safe place to "fall". E gets to fall in her parents arms.


  2. Wow! E is SO smart. I mean, seriously?! WOW. Not to mention, beautiful and wise. Did I already say beautiful? Because I meant it. Little E is a warrior, I am so proud (and feel deeply) for all she has come through, she is an incredible girl.

    I took a picture recently of Lilah, a side profile, and I saw a little glimpse of E in her. Here is the flickr link. :)

    Hugs. Jill.

  3. Sweetly written. The love for your girl leaps off the screen and the grace she exudes is beautiful. I am so privileged to follow your love story. Thank you!

    E, you are amazing, inside and out!

  4. Beautifully written. Beautiful girl :)

  5. An amazing girl for an amazing family... Wishing you a very special Valentine's Day!

  6. What Serline said :) I couldn't of said it better myself!

  7. Aww, you're a remarkable family!

  8. Sweet girl! How exciting that she is so gifted in her ability to learn. Her penmanship is very good, too. She should have an interesting life.

    I hope the crying jags help her release some feelings of grief and I pray that her sadness lessens. (Do you think she is depressed?) I am so happy she has you and G-man to love on her. (Are you guys married yet?)

  9. actually Lindy i expect as she comes to understand her story more fully that her sadness may deepen, and that is okay. i just hope we can help her to embrace it fully- she certainly is growing up knowing that there is no subject in this house that is taboo and that her feelings are completely valid- no matter what they are.

    and no, i don't think she is depressed (girl lives her life happy), i think grieving can be a lifelong process with losses such as hers (and they are layered and multiple) and that it probably just comes in waves at certain times. and as more time goes on and our bond is that much more solidified, she is more able to express what is inside of her. what is so amazing is that she can cry like this and be able to feel without having to name why. it was a wonderful moment to share with her and i felt very privileged that she would let herself be so vulnerable with me. it's a gift, giving ourselves to each other, you know?

    anyway. she's a remarkable individual and i am in awe of her and can't wait to see how her life unfolds...

  10. Tell E I'm sending a gradebook, stickers, a stamp and stamp pad....let the GRADING BEGIN!! Oh, and I won't forget the RED pen! I hear she's INTO school...and with that BRAIN...LOOK OUT. She's teaching US everyday! :)

  11. I have to say that this photo has a huge joy-factor / powerful smile appeal. A definite keeper (as a wonderful cure during for driving away any moments of gloom).

  12. She is so remarkable. A wonderful, amazing little girl.

    Everyone needs a good cry now and then. I know I do!

  13. I think we all know just how special she is. She will grow up to do amazing things.

  14. Not to trivialize what she's been through and has to come, but there's something to be said for living a life of such depth. She will have so much to give for living so much. Perhaps it is a gift.