One year

First meal as a family Pizza Hut China 7/2007
Oh man, we are in trouble!
Bus ride back to the hotel after she became our daughter. She never shed a tear or looked back.
July 2008...one year later. Still strong and beautiful.

Some days it feels like Ellie has been with us forever and other times it feels like it was just yesterday we met her for the first time one year ago.

She has made huge strides in her language, behavior, and adjusting to our culture since the first day we met her. 

How will we ever forget less then 2 hours of being with us, she was standing on a chair in Pizza Hut shaking her booty to the music and giving us a thumbs up. I remember looking at Brandon and saying, "Oh gawd, what have we done?"

Since the first moment we met, her enthusiasm has been amazing. She has always looked forward and embraced every thing that has been presented to her with a brave face. Even thought the more we get to know her, the more we can tell when she is truly scared or stand off-ish and what that brave face really means.

We have had our fair share of adjustment bumps, but they are getting less and less all the time. I guess as a mom of an older adopted child the fine line between normal adolescent behavior or orphanage/adopted behavior begins to become blurry. Sometimes I have to slow down, think, and then react to her, is this something she should know? or is this her being a pain in the butt?

I love watching her learn new things, our experience things for the first time. Sometimes she needs a nudge, but we have learned with her, once she tries it she loves it. She didn't want to ride her bike, or swim in a pool, or even go down the water slides, but after a short freak out session, she is all in having a great time.

I guess one of the harder things with adopting a child of her age from an orphanage is the lack of life experience. She has never been exposed to things in life. It's hard to put myself in her shoes and remember, she has never seen or done 90% of what most people do at her age. If you think about orphanage life (from what she has told us) She is told what to do, when to do it and all of the activities are orchestrated so not to much thought is put into your daily routine. The common sense factor is huge for us right now. She didn't know that you don't run out in front of cars, or when someone else is in the bathroom, you don't open the door and stare at them until they are done. She has to learn all of this.

Sometimes I wonder if she will ever work that part out. Again, is it a age thing or a orphanage life related? 

In China school for her was memorizing math facts and characters they didn't learn things about the world or how things work. I forget sometimes she only knows what we expose her to or tell her. In her orphanage school they were not taught to work math problems out, it was only memorization. A math story problem is a challenge for her, but if you ask her the same question in a math fact, she can answer it. Her reading is great (no comprehension yet) and spelling fabulous. I know if you dropped me in China  a year ago, I wouldn't be nearly as far along in a transition as her.

Her relationship with her brother is way better then it was a year ago. Sometimes I wonder if he will ever cut her some slack. Sometimes there are those tender sweet moments between the two of them that let me know things are okay and the constant harassing is just brotherly love.

Ellie and Lila are very sweet together. They play good and never really argue. Sometimes Lila will have enough of being bossed around and she will just go in her room. 

I still don't think Ellie's maturity has quite caught up with girls her age. I would have to guess her maturity is around 7. She connects with girls of that age better. When you see watch her at a birthday party, she gravitates to the girls of that age. You can tell she wants to hang with the older girls, but really doesn't get why they like boys or what the big deal over Miley*Cyrus is. Part of me likes the fact that she is still so innocently young.

This has been a very crazy year. We have had so many changes good and bad. I'm happy to have her in our lives, I hope she feels the same.