Sunday, December 13, 2009

Settling in

It's been one week since Jess moved in with us, and it already feels like she's been with us forever. For me the novelty of fatherhood's starting to wear off, as it's becoming familiar having a 10 year old in the house. I think Jess is feeling more comfortable in her new surroundings, as she's freely showing affection towards me & Angel. Jess is also starting to push a little; I don't mean to say she's misbehaving but she is trying to push some buttons. Her teasing gets a little excessive sometimes, and she tries to test some boundaries with her routines. Of course we're flexible, as we believe in being authoritative parents (and not authoritarian), but she knows in the end that Mom & Dad are the boss. An image that comes to mind is one of those nature documentaries, where the mother lion has her cub crawling all over her, pulling on her ear, while she has that patient, almost complacent look on her face! Patience is definitely needed I find, but Jess also brings so much joy.

It's been a big week for our little girl, as Jess has not only moved in with us but has also started meeting the family. On Monday Dale & Sharon came over for supper and to bring the documents for us to sign; we have to wait 6-12 months for the adoption to become legal, but for now we've been delegated guardianship powers. After the paperwork was taken care of my parents came over to meet their new granddaughter for the first time. My Mom cried, my Dad beamed and my daughter had this uncertain expression on her face that said, "What's the big deal?" and "Why is this lady (my Mom) hugging me so much?" It was a brief visit, as we didn't want to overwhelm Jess; we kept to the same format the next evening when my in-laws and nephew came for their visit. Jess was quite anxious for them to arrive; she stood on a chair and looked impatiently out the window for them to arrive, but once they did Jess stuck close to me. But the present they brought (a Michael Jackson CD) and a game of MarioKart with her new cousin was just what the doctor ordered to break the ice.

Friday was a dive into the deep end with a supper visit with my brother Niels & his wife Janice and their kids. I say deep end because it was a longer visit, but we figured it would be ok since Jess would be interacting with children younger than her. The visit went over well; my nephew Halden had been anxious to meet his new cousin, and the two of them hit it off instantly. Hannah took a liking to Jess as well, and giggled like she does whenever her grandparents come to visit. Jess played with and read to her new cousins, and helped build a gingerbread house after supper. As successful as that visit went we were mindful of not overloading Jess with too much stuff. The next day Jess met another new cousin and in the evening we celebrated our family's December birthdays. The original plan was to arrive for just presents and cake. Jess however wanted to be there for the whole thing (mainly so she could play with Halden), and in spite of being in a full, noisy house full of new relatives (most who had just met the new addition for the 1st time) it went well.

Maybe a little too well. I have to admit that I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed, and part of it has to do with how quickly Jess is settling in. From our experience during the pre-placement process we're expecting some regression. As well we know this is the honeymoon phase, and once the excitement wears off we expect some challenges ahead. But so far she's acting like she hasn't experienced a major change in her life. For example Jess did really well in church today, and dashed off to Sunday school without asking for one of us to go with her. As well we sat down with her today to tell her that we met with her birth mom (the meeting was on Friday), and to give her some things that her birth mom wanted to pass on. When asked Jess told us she missed her birth-mom a little, and then focus her attention on other things and change the conversation. This was our first clue that she's starting to process stuff, and we know that as time goes by things will start to surface. But for now we'll just enjoy life together as a newly minted family, and deal with the ugly stuff when it comes.

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