This month's blog carnival at Grown in My Heart focuses on photos: What is your most treasured adoption photo (or two)? Wow! Too many to choose from! I'm cheating by including just one photo -- of a scrapbook layout with 12 photos! These photos are from Nanning, Guangxi Province, where we met Maya for the first time. I've posted the photos of our first meeting before, so I thought I'd use this layout from our first week together as a family.
One of the most amazing things to witness when we added Maya to our family was Zoe and Maya becoming sisters. I swear it was instantaneous! I know we always say that bonding and attachment is a process, not a moment, but with Zoe and Maya it really seemed to happen the moment they met.
I could actually see Maya scope out this new family and figure what her role in it would be (yes, some is innate personality, but some was trying to occupy a space that Zoe wasn't occupying). She would be the little sister. Her job was to be taken care of by the big sister. She also saw her job as cheering Zoe up when she was sad (and, oh, boy, did Zoe have her sad moments in China, meltdown after meltdown at having to share Mama with this new sister! But she never took it out on Maya (too busy taking it out on me!)). But mostly, her job was to lounge on a comfy couch and be fanned by a grape-peeling Zoe!
Zoe also scoped out her job in an instant. She was the big sister/little mother. Just like she told the social worker in a homestudy visit, her job was to take care of Maya in all ways except changing stinky diapers! She fed Maya, holding her bottle as I did, and feeding her noodles from her own chopsticks. She pushed Maya's stroller (when she wasn't sharing it, by squeezing her skinny body behind Maya in the single seat!), she put on her socks and shoes, and brushed her hair ALL the time! She herded Maya like a sheepdog with a single sheep. Zoe LOVED being the boss, and amazingly, Maya did too.
The pattern was set there in Nanning at the first meeting, and five years later, the pattern is the same. And Zoe and Maya are both truly OK with that (we discuss a lot that it's not Maya's job to make Zoe happy (seems like a lot of responsibility for a little girl) but Maya still feels it's her duty to cheer Zoe up when she's down). Maya still exercises her personal code of energy conservation -- not exerting any energy if she can get her sister to do it instead. Zoe still loves mothering and herding Maya (we've actually made it a verb -- "You're big-sissing Maya again!"). They are the closest sisters I've ever seen, happily sharing everything (except Mama -- still a lot of competition on that one), including a single bed (I put them to bed each night in their own beds and wake them up each morning in one bed!).
So that's why that scrapbook layout is one of my favorites -- it illustrates two strangers becoming sisters.