I've had some positive feedback about the lifebook pages and I think I'm inspiring some other Mamas to get to work on one for their child, so I'll keep going.
The page about the orphanage has had many revisions, but finally I decided that this is just the most simple of lifebooks and the time to go deeper is still to come and it can be seen as more of a conversation starter than a provider of all the answers (HA! as if I'll ever have all the answers). I think I had trouble with this page because of all the words and phrases around adoption, the only ones I continue to be uncomfortable with are "orphan" and "orphanage". I have never, and likely will never, use the word "orphan" to describe my daughter, as it just seems to have so many connotations that don't fit and it seems so negative. It sounds more like a playground taunt or a melodramatic Disney movie to me. "Orphanage" is a word that I wish I could do away with, but I know Adeline will have to face that word and that truth sometime, and better to learn about it from me where I can tell her the truth about what orphanage life was like for her - which was nothing like you see in the movies. Truly, Adeline was in the best of institutional care and I know she was loved and cherished, so it's not hard for me to tell her proudly what good care the nou-nous took of her when she was a baby, but orphanage is the word that has to be used, so that's what I'm going to start using sometimes.
Adeline was worried but brave on the day we met her. She was curious about us, but VERY serious and she continually searched the room for Nga, who kept coming back to try and make Adeline laugh (with no success). While it would be easy for me to focus on this as the happiest day of our lives, for Adeline it was a pretty weird and worrying experience, far from her normal daily routine, which she faced with an open heart and the most concerned looking eyebrows I've ever seen. I am continually grateful that, unlike in other countries, we didn't just take our daughter from everything she knows in the instant she met us and we had the chance to visit with her and her caregivers at the orphanage a few times. By the second visit Adeline was much more relaxed and was laughing with us, and when she was ready to come with us we weren't strangers anymore and we had learned a lot about her from Nga and the other nou-nous.