“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” ~Chinese Proverb
The first day of Spring I was handed a twenty pound beautiful, groggy, confused, and sick little girl. We had very little in common, yet a red thread had drawn us together for some time now. I have wanted to adopt as long as I can remember. My youngest daughter began her morning in a rural village in China (dirt floors and all). She left the wonderful foster parents who cared for her most of her 15 months ( the orphanage director brought to our hotel). I began the morning with those closest to me in a wonderful 5 star hotel in Beijing and flown to one of the saddest places I have ever been.
After she was handed to me she had lost all of the people who had cared for her in her life. Most likely she had never seen “westerners” and that had to be shocking; it was for most other adults in the city when they saw us. She encountered a new language, smells, culture, and life. Even with all of these significant changes and losses, she had officially gained a family forever that day. Something she never had before.
There was fear, a lot of fear, by everyone involved – My husband, myself, our biological 3 year old daughter, my family who traveled with us, and our newest daughter. Of course on the the first things and tools I turned to was massage. Massage to calm her fears as well as mine. I massaged my newest daughters feet to introduce myself and touch to her and hopefully to calm some of her fears. Sometimes it worked, most of the time it didn’t.
The first couple days were rough, to say the least. You can read our blog if you wish to revisit the adoption. The only time our daughter did not fuss/cry was when she was asleep. We kept telling our three year old, I think in an effort to remind ourselves, “this will get better”. Like I said massage did not fix everything. I have to give some major props to Western medicine. We gave our daughter an antibiotic because we had a parent’s instinct something was not right…ear infection. Within 24 hours we had turned a major corner. We had a girl that smiled. We all breathed a sigh of relief. It was wonderful!
There were times during the trip my mom massaged my back when I did not think I was handling, or going to be able to handle, the big changes in my life. I massaged my older daughter’s back to connect with her and talk about the changes her life that happened. She faced some problems with anxiety on the trip too. We had taken her half way around the world from her small Iowa home to China! How could she possibly begin to understand the entire concept of “we are getting Annika because her parents could not take care of her, but that will never happen to you- ever”. Who knows what was going through her head.
Since we have been home (1 month), massage has been a great asset to our family for the bonding and attachment process. Everyone is doing great, especially our newest daughter. She is thriving! People frequently comment, “I cannot believe how well she has attached to you”. This time I have to give MASSAGE major, MAJOR, credit. The antibiotics helped us with a temporary illness, but massage has helped us begin to build a LIFELONG bond!
There are a few great links here about massage and adoption I wanted to throw out. There is no way for me to blog about everything on this subject. This subject could fill a book. Here are couple of notes on areas you may want to explore about massage, children, and adoption.
Saliva Samples and Massage?- The stress hormone cortisol! This hormone can be abundant in adopted children. TCU has a great website that talks about their study of this hormone and adopted children. What is one thing that can help lower this hormone? MASSAGE!
Developmental delays – My 16 month old daughter at this time cannot walk, crawl, or pull herself up. From what we gathered she was carried A LOT. Also, from what we are told most children in China do not crawl at all and they walk later. They do not want children on the floors because they are not clean enough (dirt floors). She is very strong though. Within a month, I promise we will be running after her! I know massage has helped her with her coordination and body awareness.
I wanted to mention that the US consulate said this year 74% of the adoption in China have been “special needs” adoptions. This includes our own adoption. Obviously massage is great for healthy children, but there are so many special needs that would be greatly helped by massage. I know after my daughter’s surgeries I will be using massage to hopefully help calm her fears and pain….sigh.
Orphanage vs foster care – There are some great differences here as far as the attachment and grieving process. It is a conversation that could go on for days!
Final words? – I love my daughters! and….
MASSAGE. IS. GREAT.
Anyone with insights or experiences to share?
Future Massage Therapists????