Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Adopted Toddler

freedom

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.

cutie_m

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!

17 comments:

Arizona mom to eight said...

She is so precious, we are also a happy family with a sweetie pie from Vorzel, she brings us so much joy! I agree with everything you said here, except now that Kara has been home 3 years, she will no longer eat everything i put in front of her, and is now a picky little girl!! LOL

Arizona mom to eight said...

The road you are walking on in you blog picture looks very familiar, I lived in Vorzel at the Peremoga down the street from orphanage #5 and walked down that road twice a day for 6 weeks. Except it was covered in snow and ice when we were there.

one_plustwins said...

I am working on my own older-toddler :) Great post, Sandra. HUGS.

The Sanchez Family said...

I often wish I had brought home one of the amazing toddlers I saw at our orphanage for this very same reason....and she is able to show you and tell you how much she appreciates every thing around her! Oh she is just a doll!

Looking Up said...

What an angel! So happy to hear that she is doing so well. :)

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

Masha is a RockStAr!! great insight into a unknown adventure...Masha sounds VERY independent and that is what we all want for our kiddos...loved the post...Glad U R back!! smiles

Felicity said...

I just love reading your posts and seeing your photos! Masha is such a sweetie.

Rochelle said...

Thank you for this timely post for our family. Dariya will almost be 3 when we pick her up, hoping she is so easy. Masha you are a beauty!

Danielle said...

I was told that they did not have hot water at the orphanage and that they bathed standing up, each one washed in an assembly line fashion. Ivan screamed bloody murder for his first bath, too. No wonder! Masha is so cute! I am so glad that she is doing so well!

cole said...

Oh I teared up at your sweet post and blatant love for that sweet Masha-doll of a girl! You are all so blessed to have each other!

The McEacherns said...

Good post! We adopted a toddler, and couldn't have been happier. This adoption, we're after an older sister for her. We just want the daughters God has for us, no matter their age!

Angela said...

Love this, Sandra!!!!

Amy Flege said...

great post.. she is so so cute!! how lucky she is!

Laura Gilmour said...

One thing I've often read about people who adopted older children (and I think this is also true of Masha) is that they are often grown up for their age due to having more responsiblity than typical American children (e.g. Masha helping out with her younger siblings, clearing the table, bringing the right sized diapers for each child). I think those skills will help Masha achieve her full potential and with the help of her loving family, she is also learning the joy of relaxing and being a kid.

Dani said...

she is sooo beautiful...I LOVE your blog post..reposted and hopefully more will follow you :) God bless!!

kecia said...

loved this post! I am looking forward to enjoying Kareen's "Firsts"!

Lacey said...

Every time I see sweet Masha, I'm thrown back to Kiev, and that tiny restaurant, and your cute apartment! I don't know why her face more than other stuff does that, but it does! We may have to go back and get an older child, now won't we??

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