We have now had Payal three months. We are starting to call her Esther Payal...except DH who just calls her Esther. She does not care what DH calls her..she seems to have developed a distinct fondness for him that is different from the rest of us. She loves any attention from her daddy! She never is whiny or defiant with him. If she is giving me a hard time and he walks in the room and asks if she listening to mommy she immediately turns into an angel! I have not yet figured out how he does it, but it is consistent...She also is potty trained when I am at work, but wants diapers when I am home as well as bottles. For now, we are letting her be "big" with Dad and "little" with mom.
Her English seems to be somewhat transient. Some days it seems she just comes up with multiple new words, and then we will hear nothing new for a week or two. She still uses Indian words for common tasks like going to the bathroom. This is probably because she has trained US to use these words. Her enunciation is improving. She will chain 2-3 words: "Mommy come please", etc. These are now able to be understood by strangers instead of just the family.
She absolutely adores her older sisters. She has gotten to the point of leaving me to play with them, instead of only playing with them if I am participating as well. This is a welcome relief for me as I have been able to shower, etc. without her attached or crying.
We had our first parent-teacher conference at the Montessori school. Her report was good...she only bit one child. This was a concern, because she had been biting me at home--and not just a little nibble! There has been no biting at all for the last two weeks, so I think we have extinguished this behavior. We have had some meltdowns...maybe three a week, but no rages for 3-4 weeks. The meltdowns just seem to be a needed emotional release. Instead of lasting 90 minutes, they are 15-20 minutes. Actually, I think she is actually approaching "normalcy" from a psychological stand point.
She is almost sleeping through the night. She still awakens 2-3 times to make sure someone is there with her...it can now be mom or dad. We moved her toddler bed from her room to the master bedroom. It is up on a platform so it is the same level as our bed. It is up against my husband's side of the bed. We gave up on the idea of having her sleep in her own room with one of us sleeping in there with her. We are all getting more sleep this way. She has awoken with with me away at the hospital on call and is now just as happy to see daddy there if I am not. She amazingly seems to grasp the concept of me being at work. She will talk to me on the phone without getting upset(before it would make her cry). She will say:"Mommy pick up?" and be happy when I tell her I will.
I would finally say that Payal is starting to feel she is "home". I think there are still some confusion in her mind and questioning about permanency that she can not articulate. We could not hand her off to a new female, for example. I sure others have experienced this...When we run into friends, they want to hold or hug her. With women, Payal has an immediate "panic". I think this may come from being handed from her foster mother to me at the orphanage. No one so far has been "hurt" that they cannot hold her. She is very friendly to them in my arms, and this seems to please them as well. She especially likes to say "bye" to them. When the social worker came to visit, she practically shut the door on her backside...seemed she could not get her out fast enough. We are just starting to have family visitors. Our families have been patient...My mother just came for a five day visit. It took Payal 2-3 days to figure out that grandma was not a threat to her security. Now that "TuTu" is gone, Payal will talk readily to her on the phone, and is excited for her next visit. DH's family will meet her for the first time at Thanksgiving.
Three very stressful months are behind us. We have come a long way as a family. My two daughters still often long for the days of "BP" --before Payal. We would be not be honest if we said that things were not easier and less stressful before her arrival. They miss being the center of my attention. They feel like they suddenly had to grow up. They have, however, fallen in love with their little sister. Her improving behavior and communication skills have made it easier for them to care for and attach to her themselves. In general, we feel lucky to have gotten such an amazing child. She is adapting faster and better than we expected...which is good because although her performance is ahead of expectations, my energy level is below what I expected...so I am thankful she is "over-achieving in all areas."
Eventually, we have some medical issues to address. This will most likely involve surgery. As long as she is well we will continue to delay any interventions. Her skull sutures in the front fused prematurely, so if this needs surgery, it would be sooner vs later. The other surgery we will hopefully put off until age five. Are first medical interventions will probably need to be getting a cavity filled...does not seem to be causing pain yet, but is an obvious problem in a couple of molars.
We have our second social worker visit next week. I am anxious to see what changes she sees that we cannot appreciate. I really can't emphasize enough how much I feel that the foster family should take most of the credit for how well Payal has done.
So....in summary, I would say that it has taken this full three months for us to feel like we are a "new" family instead of babysitting a "toddler terror". My love for Payal had grown throughout the year of waiting for her...and it has carried me through the hard times. However, the bonding and love for the other family members took longer and, I think, actually began when she arrived instead of during the process. I may have been at fault for this because I essentially executed the process by myself. I think I did it this way out of an underlying fear that we might not actually be successful in getting her here...and I did not want to disappoint my daughters. Her picture was taped to the frig for 16 months, but I think the length of time for children just made it seem like it would never happen.
Another long entry...maybe if not of benefit to others, will be of interest to Payal when she is older.
BTW: We have chosen the name Esther for the following reasons: 1) Esther means star...Payal is certainly a bright,happy child 2) Esther was the most beautiful woman of the land, and thus chosen by the king of Persia--Payal IS amazingly beautiful (if you have not seen her look me up on facebook:nicole hagedorn) 3) Esther's parents both died and she was ADOPTED. 4) Esther saved her people...we hope to instill in Payal a love and appreciation for her people and pray that one day because of the care we take of her she will be able to "give back"to India.