People often ask how my girl is doing. In my opinion, what she has gone through, is so extraordinary, that unless you've experienced something similar, it's impossible to comprehend. I know I can't, and in many ways, I feel closer to her than anyone else on earth.
I know that there is a very playful, happy, generous and brave soul- that was/is scared. Very, very scared. Parenting a scared child is hard. Fear manifests in all different ways. Sometimes it tries to control. Sometimes it freezes. Sometimes it cries. Sometimes it hugs. Sometimes it's angry. Sometimes it's sad, but too scared to admit it for fear of rejection. Sometimes it fakes being happy. Two months ago, in Ethiopia, the fear was so thick, so completely overwhelming, that it completely paralyzed her at times. For hours.
I recently watched the video of when she first walked through the doors of her new home. When I experienced it, I thought it was a relatively good moment. It was. For me.
Now I look at the terrified little girl and my heart breaks. It just breaks as I watch the high-pitched-little-fear-squeal that was meant to fool us into believing she was happy. My heart breaks as I watch her eyes shift quickly and fearfully around. It just breaks as I watch her stiff body posture. Her fearful jump when the stuffed elephant trumpeted followed by the high pitched squeal.
Aster loves people and is quite social. More than anything she wants lots and lots of friends. Balancing the fear with her social wants is a daily game.
Now that she's been home for over two months, I am starting to see the layers of the girl I love. The fear, still strong, seems to be starting to break away in small chunks (not melting, because there is nothing even about the process), I get to see that my giggly girl is also a comedian. Similar to how one may learn about an infant, I've learned the smiles, which mean very different things. I've learned the cries, which mean very different things.
I've learned whether the look straight into my eyes is going to be followed with a crossing of her arms and a huff or a secretly lipped "I love you mama." Whether the huff is a plea for playful attention or a broken heart because I somehow made her feel badly.
It was hard to not know. To not even have a small clue.
It's been so important these last few months to have some friends that know. That know my Aster's heart. Friends that have helped to chip away a little bit of that fear. More about our friends, the friends that know, later...