Friday, May 28, 2010

Gotcha Day

3 years ago, on May 28, 2007, this is the little girl we met. Dang Kai Jin, soon to be known more commonly as Reese Maleah KaiJin. She was 2.5 years old and quite distraught. She wanted her mama, her foster mama, not the redheaded mama they had brought her too. That day, May 28, 2007, was the last day she woke up in a familiar environment, with people she knew and loved, before her world was radically changed. The last day her beloved (and kind) foster mother dressed her in clothing that she had picked out and bought for her adored foster daughter. A day that rocked several peoples' worlds: my family's, Reese's, and her foster family's, back in China.

Fortunately, food goes a long way with small children, and we made something of a peace until bedtime. When she became distraught again. I distinctly remember Mom pacing up and down the halls of the Shanxi Grand in Taiyuan, waiting for the tell-tale thud of a sippy cup hitting the carpeted floor, signaling our newest addition had given up the fight against sleep and succumbed to Morpheus' arms. Giving us all a little peace in a tumultuous time, for Reese, from her grief, for us, from her tears and the inability to console this precious little girl.Given time, she began to discover we weren't so bad. Her English skills improved dramatically, and, sadly, her Chinese skills faded to that deep recess of a small child's mind where such things are kept, waiting for the day to be called upon again, giving just a fragment of an edge in the ability to learn new language caused by the neural pathways having already been formed. She was right on par with other 3.5 years, and on May 28, 2008, we celebrated 1 year of Dang Kai Jin being known as Reese.

Another year went by, and of course, Reese grew. She was in K3, heading into Pre-K in the fall. She's a happy, brilliant little girl, full of laughter and incredibly dramatic. And of course, high maintenance. May 28, 2009, after my return trip to China in March when I got to meet her foster family in Taiyuan, we celebrated 2 years of having Reese in our lives, the longest and shortest 2 years ever. How 2 years can fly by, yet seem like forever is baffling to me.
This year, Reese is 5, going on 16. She's about 46" tall, and weighs around 47 lbs. She can write her first and last name, say her alphabet, write her letters, spell some words, and, reportedly, count to 1000, though none of us have sat through that to be sure. We are sure of 100, though. She completely Pre-K with flying colors and was declared by her awesome teacher to be completely ready for kindergarten, which she will start in the fall at the local Arts Magnet Elementary School, where her drama queen and dive side is sure to be indulged. In August, she began taking Irish dance, like myself, and competed for the first time at our school's winter feis in Branson, Missouri, in January. She's quite talented when she wants to practice and put some effort into it.

It's been an amazing 3 years. Time has flown by, and at the same time, it seems like we've never been without her.

Life has changed for me a lot since we first got Reese. I went from being "the baby" to being someone's older sister. I went from being a high school student, to completing my first year old college, majoring in anthropology, with a 3.89 cumulative GPA. I returned to China and learned loads more about Reese's life before us than I could have ever dreamed of, and acquired access to a resource unparalleled in a world where solid information on our children's lives before they come to us is small and lacking detail or clarity. We established a connection with her foster family, who raised her for more than 6 months before we adopted her, and that is likely the closest thing to her biological family we will ever get. And we are grateful, for them, for their care of her, and for their willingness to maintain contact with the little girl that they selflessly gave their hearts to, knowing she had a family awaiting her across the Pacific Ocean. I have a boyfriend, for the first time ever, and Reese loves him, and he enjoys playing with her. I just learned last week I will be competing as a soloist at Oireachtas (Regionals for Irish dance) in Washington, D.C., in December for the first time. Relatively speaking, things are pretty good right now, if not a little hectic.

I hope everyone else out there who reads this blog is having a good life, too. Comments are appreciated.

((This post is backdated for ease of access in the archives. Actual posting date: 06.07.2010))

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