Jian’s First Birthday at Home
Shortly after arriving home with Jian, she commented one night, “I have only ever had one birthday.” She was referring to last year while we were waiting for travel approval when we sent a birthday package to her. Before that, she didn’t even know when her birthday was. Hearing her say that cut me to the heart. I started stammering and speaking very rapidly, “Oh no! Well maybe tomorrow I can go and buy you a cake and we can sing to you and have the cake and I can buy you something and wrap it up and…” She calmly asked me to stop talking and told me that she was ok and that all of that wasn’t necessary.
But last week when her birthday actually rolled around, we had a fun party planned. The theme was her favorite character: Hello Kitty. We had our families and close friends from church, our next door neighbors and 3 good friends from Jian’s class at school. Our social worker thought that it was a great sign of confidence that Jian felt comfortable enough inviting her school friends over to her party. Daniel was slightly worried that she may be overwhelmed with all the people and all of the attention on her, but she loved it! She just glowed and soaked it all in when we lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday to her. We had recently signed her up for Therapeutic Horse Riding lessons. She used her birthday money to buy all of the special gear for her new hobby: horse riding pants, boots, long socks with horses on them, a belt with a horse on it, helmet, and gloves.
We went to her second official lesson this week, and the instructor kept going on and on about how Jian is a natural. This is her thing. I have never seen her light up the way she does when she is interacting with the horse. She was so poised and confident that after a few minutes, her 4 instructors/volunteers backed away and allowed Jian to ride completely independently, something they had never done with anyone on just their second lesson. The instructor put a bug in my ear that if Jian continues to enjoy it and wants to, she could possibly train to ride in the paralympics one day! It is so fun to watch her blossom and to find things that she wants to pursue. The past few months have been spent dealing with some difficult issues, but it is so worth it to see her come through those situations and emerge on the other side, and to know that we have all been made stronger as a result.