Archive for May, 2011

Happy 6 Months Home, Jasmine!

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

[From March 29th, 2011.  Another entry I forgot to post.]

WOW!!!  Where has 6 whole months gone?!  Well, to China for starters.  I think this whole move to China has occupied most of the last 5 months of our lives.  We started contemplating it in August, interviewed in September (in the middle of the adoption trip!), got the job offer in October.  After we made the decision in October, November and December were a blur of packing and planning and prepping.  And then there was limbo land.  We moved out of our house in the middle of December and lived like transients until 4 weeks ago. :)  (Maybe “transients” is a stretch.)

Somewhere in all that craziness Jasmine slipped right into her own little place in our family.  I only remember one major hurdle along the way, and it wasn’t even really Jasmine’s issue.  It was Spencer’s.  The baby.  Little baby felt replaced by new, big baby.  We had a lot of sibling rivalry and jealousy from Mr. Spencer.  Jasmine would come and sit on my lap, and Spencer would RUSH over from the opposite side of the room, “That’s MY lap!  I was going to sit there!!!”  And when I turned my back, he’d take a jab at her, or a kick, or a poke–SOMETHING–just to let her know he wasn’t happy about her being here.  He let me know more than once that he didn’t want her here anymore.  He was not a pleasant boy for those first couple months.

But then, he gradually realized that he had not been replaced, and he made room in his little heart for another sister.  They started to play together occasionally.  And it gradually got better from there.  It has been MONTHS since he had any of those fits of jealousy.  Thankfully, those fits are a distant memory.  Now he treats her the same as the rest of his siblings, and doesn’t hit her any more or less than anyone else. :)  (That boy and hitting!  We’re working on that.)

We had our six month post-adoption interview last week.  The social worker asked about the changes and growth we’ve seen in her.  Here is a little bit of what we talked about.

Jasmine has learned so much!  First, English.  It’s not polished English, but she can say just about anything she needs to, and she understands everything going on at home.  She can also read simple books (like early reader books).  Some of my favorite mispronunciations over the last 6 months are:

  • sandwich: “san-gur-rich”  We’ve been working on this one for about 3 months, and it still comes out as “sangurich.” :)
  • three, thirteen, thirty: “free”, “firteen”, “firty”
  • the: “duh.”  The great thing about this word is that she puts it in front of everything.  She’s getting better now, but for a while it was every other word.  For example, “Duh Spencer duh hit me!” or “Duh Michael duh eat it duh sangurich.”  Hee hee. :)

She has also come a long way with math.  From reading her files, we thought that her math skills seemed on par.  We were a bit surprised when we brought her home.  Jasmine has an EXCELLENT memory, and had memorized a lot of simple addition and subtraction facts.  But if I asked her something she hadn’t memorized, like 4+0 or 12+1,  she was completely stumped.  (Those are actual problems I asked her, not examples.)  She would guess at it and throw out completely random numbers.  Anyway, we figured out that she had no concept of numbers really, just a few memorized facts that held no meaning for her whatsoever.  So, we had to start at the beginning.

The hardest thing for her was doing any sort of analytical/problem solving/critical thinking.  She really wanted us to just tell her the answers so she could memorize them and spit them back out.  (This seems to be the learning style in traditional Chinese schools.)  Ahh!!!  The torture!!!  We wanted her to think!!!  I’m making light of it now, but we experienced tears more than a few times over this.  It was pretty tough on her–and me.  My patience was not stellar.  I tried so hard not to, but I found myself getting frustrated having to explain the same thing day after day, over and over for 4 months.  It might have been easier if she never understood, but she would understand one day and the next day it was as if she’d never seen it before.  And it went back and forth like this.  She would do it perfectly for a week, then the next day she couldn’t do it at all.  It was frustrating on those days because I knew that she could do it!  We honestly wondered and worried about some sort of learning disabilities…but she could do it sometimes. I still don’t know what to make of that because it still happens.

The good news is that the concepts do seem to sink in after a while, and the forgetting thing seems to be less frequent the longer we study a concept.  When I look back at math, I would say we started in kindergarten and are now at the end of 1st grade–about a year and a half of work in 6 months.  Yea Jasmine!

Social skills.  We held off on teaching a lot of social norms, manners, etiquette, etc. until a month or so ago.  Everything was so new and overwhelming that those things just didn’t seem that important in the beginning.  Learning English, feeling loved, getting to know the family, and just surviving took precedence.  I knew we would address them later, but there were definitely more important things to focus on in the beginning.  So now that Jasmine seems very comfortable we’ve begun working on little things here and there.  Volume control, saying please and thank you, table manners, etc.  Since we haven’t been doing it long I’ll have to give a progress update on that in a later post. :)

To sum up, Jasmine is doing great and so are we!  She was definitely meant to be a part of our family.  Jasmine is easy to love.  She’s sweet, happy, smiley, funny, hard working, and empathetic.  She is also impatient, silly, and annoyed when life isn’t always “fair” (for instance, when someone gets one more cracker than she did).  She loves to laugh, play pretend with her sister, play video games with her brothers, and eat!  I think one of my favorite things is to see my two fun and silly daughters together.  They are always trying to dress the same and do the same things.  They are the cutest sisters ever and have so much love for each other, and seeing them together just makes me smile.  I’m so grateful to have another daughter!