Saturday, March 19, 2011
I think there is sort of an unspoken rule of thumb when it comes to adopting children. The younger the better. Wouldn’t it be great if every orphan was adopted in infancy? Great for the child and even better for the adopting family.
Why is that? For me it was the fear of adopting a child who had already picked up orphanage behaviors, a child who had already learned not to bond too closely to one person, a child whose early intervention window was closing fast. And besides, toddlers and prekindergarteners are just not as cute as babies... right?
Babies are easy to fall in love with. It is simple to forget that you did not birth this tiny bundle. The blank slate is still yours to decorate. Crying fits, loaded diapers, and throw up are just plain more acceptable when the perpetrator is a twelve pound mass of adorable.
But I have news for you... adopting a young child, a walking and talking child, has its own unique set of joys and amazements. Because, you see, there are “firsts” awaiting this child that bio children blow through at much younger stages, much less expressive stages.
Take the bathtub for example... Masha was afraid of water. I can only assume that bath time for her had been just another caretaker chore at the orphanage. Maybe she was made to stand up and sprayed or had water poured over her. Maybe she was held tight so she couldn’t escape a hair washing even when water got in her eyes. Whatever the case, bath time and play time were not synonymous. But they are now. Watching Masha conquer her fear and become enamored with the tub has been a delight for all of us. Even the boys are awestruck as she log rolls round and round, face under, face up, like a little seal.
Or take food... everyone of my children has hit the “Ewww, I won’t eat that” stage, which seems to be lasting years for some of them. But not Masha. It is a pleasure to watch her enjoy a freshly chopped tomato, or experience grapefruit for probably the first time in her life. She is so willing to eat good healthy food... while the others are complaining, she is digging in. I say, “Masha is it good?” and she says, “Uh huh.” She is the chef’s favorite child.
But my favorite “first” for Masha is her response to affection. In the beginning she allowed us to hold her, hug her, and kiss her. She would give a kiss if told to. She would come to us for “playful” affection... to be picked up and swung around. Over time, her understanding of human touch has expanded and blossomed. Now she seeks out hugs and kisses. Now she climbs into my lap and rests against me, calmly enjoying our closeness. Now she asks to be rocked to sleep at night.
Did she come with some orphanage behaviors? Oh yes she did. She can dress herself, put on her own shoes and coat, and undress herself as well. She craves routine. She cleans up after herself (Oh Lordy, do ya think Vorzel might want a few more orphans for a while?) She does not bite, scratch, or pull hair.
Is she perfect? No, of course not. But the point is that adopting a toddler has some sweet surprises that do not come along with an infant. Not sure you believe me? Go get one of your own and you’ll see, lol!
Posted by TUC at 9:34 AM