15 May 2011

Sunday at 5. The weather is nicer than it has been all day. I've finished cooking baked chicken in tomato sauce that we should be able to eat for a few days. I kept out some of the pasta that lines the bottom of the dish just in case tomato sauce is not in favor today. Julia is downstairs with her therapist of the day making a May calendar. She is patiently drawing, cutting, decorating, and taping multi-layer flowers onto the top. She was able to write all the days of the week on the calendar (with help of course, but in a short amount of time) and numbers the squares correctly. The difference between this piece and a calendar she made last year at this time is astounding. She would not have written the days of the week -- getting her to write the Month was never easy. The numbers would have been backwards and done with much frustration and stalling -- as if by drawing out the time, the task would disappear.

Yesterday, Julia asked Ellen if she (Julia) would ever grow breasts. Today, I hear her asking if Bethany (another therapists) comes on Monday to play with her. These questions are small miracles. This child is thinking of a future.

On Thursday last, at our attachment therapist's, Julia's rescue play took on some new character. This is what I wrote about it for another purpose.

When Julia first learned to play, she gravitated to dinosaurs and not dolls. Her first pretend games were of dinosaurs fighting. She, of course, was the mighty T-rex who won every fight and scared other monstrous lizards away. After a few years, the dinosaurs made nests and laid eggs and took care of their babies. This was followed by dinosaurs falling in love and getting married. After dinosaurs got married and had babies, the babies were taken by mean female dinosaurs and complicated rescue scenarios developed. Julia played these rescue games for more than a year, and they slowly evolved from the babies being lost forever, to the babies being rescued quickly by mommas and daddies who chased the evil dinos.

Julia moved on from these games and the rescue scenario has not surfaced for more than a year. But yesterday, in AT it resurfaced.

Although 10, Julia is somewhere around 4-6 years old in emotional and responsive age. She has begun to answer questions over the last year although "why" is still elusive. She lived very much in the present for a very long time, and
refused to or could not remember anything -- not yesterday, not last year, and certainly not anything in China. But after 3+ years of AT and lots of other therapy, she can tell you what she did yesterday and she looks forward to major holidays. Over the past few months, she has been able to work through a book called Me and My Volcano (This is a workbook for helping children to deal with their feelings of hurt and anger, using the volcano to draw a parallel.). This is the first cognitive type work on attachment or trauma that she was able to do and it has been exciting.

Yesterday, our AT brought out cards from another book. Julia started reading the cards and our AT asked her to react to them. What Julia found and focused on was a card depicting a little rabbit running into his mother's arms, and away from two older rabbit who might have been grandparents. The card said something like, "I can be safe with someone I trust." The picture was not threatening in the least, but Julia made up a story about the little rabbit being taken away by the older rabbits and needing to run to his mother and be rescued. She talked about this for a long time and was very concerned about it. So much so that our AT, who never jumps to conclusions, wondered aloud if this was a real experience for Julia. Julia did not answer.

I may never know any more than I related here. I never thought that there was any chance that Julia could have been subject to abduction or trafficking which has been in the Chinese news a good deal lately --she was 5.5 when she came home and she was clearly disabled. But who knows. Is she allowing herself to remember something that happened when she was 2 or 3? Were all those dinosaur rescue stories grounded in actual fact and not in metaphor? Julia has never been subtle. I can make no guess. I have always assumed that her coming to our family was assuredly the best thing for her, but could it have been the market for cute little girls was the root cause of the trauma she would eventually face. And although her file was flawed in so many ways, I always took for granted the basic story of infant abandonment which is the mainstay of so many Chinese adoption stories.

There are so many questions.

1 comment:

Cindi Campbell said...

Where do you think I could get this book "Me and my volcano"? Our middle daughter has anger issues that would resemble this and we are trying to help her. She was adopted at 14 mths. and in a good foster care situation but still suffers from trauma. Thanks, Cindi