When you are adopting an older child, and all you have that is concrete in terms of information about them is a photo, anything you learn is precious and savored. We have been one of the very few fortunate families to adopt an older child from the former USSR and get baby photos and to meet folks who have actually spent time with him, albeit when he was very young. A sentence or two in an email can keep you awake for hours, trying to flesh out what you have just learned, rolling it over and over in your mind.
Ok...I will now officially admit it...Man I want nothing more than to give that little boy a huge bear hug and smother him with kisses! I want to spoil him rotten, I want to shower him with affection!! I want to stare in his eyes and have a conversation with him, I want to learn everything that has happened in his life...I want to know what his soul is like. The fact is there will be no smothering, no hovering, no smooching and no soul searching for quiet awhile, I am sure. I am wise enough to recognize that it will be a slow process of connecting and feeling comfortable with one another. But eventually......
I received an email from a Yahoo Group listmate friend, Shannon, who is adopting with our agency and is over there right now. Shannon kindly offered to take a little present over with her to give to our coordinator to deliver toToktogul from us, so I raced to Amazon.com the week she was leaving and ordered a Russian/English children's book and a "Lightning McQueen" car for him. For the uninitiated into the World of Boys, Lightning McQueen is a character in the movie "Cars", and Joshie's all time favorite. In fact, I surprised Josh and got a ring tone for my cell phone of Rascal Flatt's singing "Life is a Highway" from the movie, as he is always singing it and dancing around the house to it. You should have seen his eyes widen when he heard it ring the first time! He almost couldn't speak! But I digress again...
Anyway, Shannon emailed me tonight and described what happened when she was at the baby house and gave Saule, our coordinator, the package. This baby house was Toktogul's as well:
"When we were at the orphanage, I had given Saule the envelope for Toktogul with the book and car in it and the workers all started talking about him. They were saying how they loved him when he was there and how he was such a fun and happy boy. They were thrilled to hear that he had such a wonderful family coming to get him."
That's it, 3 short sentances, but for us it is a precious piece of who he was. The mere fact that they remembered him at all (although with the cleft that would make it much easier for him to stand out in their minds) so fondly warms my heart, and already I feel "Mommy Pride" kicking in and I want to shout to this quiet, sleeping house "That's my Boy!". Silly, but I want to go in and wake up Dominick and read that to him, but I will restrain myself.
Dominick and I were just talking a couple of days ago about how awesome it is that even though we are adopting an older child which many would consider a far riskier proposition than an infant (and frankly, I agree with that), we can get on that plane in 3 weeks with no qualms, no doubts, only absolute certainty that we have a very, very special son waiting for us. I remember actually feeling that way each of the times we traveled to get our sons, I had this sense of "rightness" about each one of them, as if God reached down and whispered in my ear "Yes, you are bringing home the son I had in mind for you, so don't worry." Unlike many others who have shared this journey over the years, I didn't fret over things like head circumferences the size of a walnut, medical histories missing things like surgeries to repair clefts (we have had nothing other than a height and weight on Toktogul), heart conditions that were listed on medical histories but not necessarily ruled out (Matthew). I have been very blessed with this sense of just simply knowing...knowing this was my child. Believe me when I tell you that having that sense of certainty is worth a million bucks when you are embarking on a journey halfway around the world, splaying your heart open in front of everyone and spending tens of thousands. You don't feel so great going into it with the adoption version of "Buyers Remorse" (Yes, said with tongue in cheek, no flames please about "buying" our kids.). I have actually considered this certainty as one of God's greatest gifts to me with our adoptions, most especially this time around.
You see, I had a bargain with Him, Dominick and I felt even prior to adopting Matthew that there was an older child that we would bring home one day. But even years before identifying Toktogul as our son I asked God to make me absolutely certain in my heart that whichever older child we might one day bring home would be ok in the long run, even if it was hard at first. I wanted to feel that we were not bringing a disaster into our home, exposing our boys to all kinds of strange behaviors. I never wanted to board a plane having a heavy heart, scared of what the future would hold. And I told Him that if He could give me that sense of peace, I would march right into older child adoption with Faith, and never look back. I never would have imagined having so little information and moving forward, and I never would have imagined moving forward without meeting any older child we would adopt prior to making it all legal, but here we are doing exactly that. After all, I have to keep up my end of the bargain with God!! And it feels right, it feels good, it feels safe. We will board that plane with nothing but joy and excitement in all of our hearts, despite the very real possibilities of issues we might face, it won't matter, just as it didn't with Josh and attachment disorder. Whatever is to come is what we are supposed to face head on. Just because something is hard, doesn't mean you shouldn't do it!! Life is NOT about perfection, it is about the journey and what we learn about ourselves and others as we go through it.
Oh my, such philosophical leanings tonight. Sometimes I think I must be the very strangest person anyone has ever met! Why in the world, might I ask, does ANYONE read this blog??? So now I will go to sleep, or at least to bed, and reflect on Shannon's email, knowing that obviously Toktogul was very loved when he was young, and that too makes my heart smile.
During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...