Monday, June 16, 2014

Her first family trip

We spent last week in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. Our kids have taken day trips to the beaches there, Peter and I spent a few getaway weekends before we had children, and I've camped there with my sister. But this time was special, because the kids got to see some of the most beautiful parts of the Midwest -- and it was the first family trip we've taken with Kavya.

Our adventures included swimming, biking through Peninsula State Park, hiking through a nature preserve, mini-golfing at a place Peter's family went to every summer, and visiting three of the many lighthouses that help guide ships through Lake Michigan and Green Bay (the body of water, not the city).  One day, the boys went zip-lining in the woods, and another day, Anya and I visited a coffee place and a few shops for a girls-only date.  And by the end of the week, Kavya knew how to yell "Skeeto!" and clap her hands together to try and kill mosquitos.  :o) 

When a child joins a family through adoption, there are so many things that carry a greater weight than they might for our biological children.  Vacations and other new experiences definitely land in that territory.

We wondered how she would react to being away from home.  After working hard to keep her routine consistent since she came home in January, Peter and I were hoping that she wouldn't show any regression in her feelings of security, or show any of the adjustment behaviors we saw in her first weeks home.

 We were staying in a cozy condo with a kitchen, which helped. It definitely didn't feel like a hotel room, which might have brought back memories of those first frightening (for her) days with us.  And I'm certain that having our whole family there helped her feel secure -- no one just disappeared suddenly when we moved to this new location.

Kavya did wonderfully!  We brought our pack-and-play, which she's never slept in before.  We called it her "nap house," and she slept in it about 70% of the time.  We brought her favorite stuffed animals and blanket, so she would feel at home, along with a night light.  The novelty of the "nap house" was exciting, and she seemed to enjoy being in it.  Several nights, she would get cold by about 3:00 a.m., and sleep the rest of the night in our bed.  At home, she co-sleeps in a side-car crib next to our bed, so we were surprised how easily she adapted to the pack-and-play.  True to form, our tiny gymnast was able to climb in and out on her own -- she is the most physically agile climber I've ever seen!

Most days, we tried to come home for her nap.  On two days, we played around with her schedule and she napped in the bike trailer or the car.  We brought along some puzzles and toys for down time, and so that she would have some other familiar things.

We also made sure to bring along familiar food for her.  Many of our meals were in the condo, and we brought along staples in her current diet: whole milk with Carnation Breakfast Essentials, mandarin oranges, cheddar cheese, and a few other items that are on her (very short) list of acceptable foods.  To our surprise, she was way more adventurous about food on the trip than she has been at home.

I don't know if that was because she was in a new setting, or she was finally getting bored with her small selection of foods, or if she was feeling more secure and was just ready to branch out.  Whatever the cause, we're pretty happy about it!  Some new foods she tried are bacon, a few bites of veggie quesadilla, yogurt, and cheddar goldfish crackers.  She also took a bite of a hamburger, and licked an ice cream cone.  She still won't eat bites of ice cream from a spoon -- that much cold is sensory overload for her. At home this week, she also ate an entire small pancake.  We are thrilled that she is choosing to try some new things, and we hope it will help her gain some much-needed weight.

When we came home, she seemed delighted to discover that her house, the rest of her toys, and her familiar crib and booster seat were all still there.  She kept exclaiming "Kavya's house! Kavya's bed!" It was poignant to see her pleasure, and remember how our arrival in her world took her away from everything that was familiar. It is truly amazing how resilient she is, and how trusting she's had to be as she was thrust into a whole new life.  It's humbling to know that we were the agents of such a traumatic time, even though we understand that it's for her long-term good.

She settled easily back into normal home life.  It was such a fun week, and we were relieved that it didn't come at a high cost to our sweet little Kavya.