I’ve never given birth, but I can imagine how desperately you long to meet your child after nine long months of pregnancy. However, while a pregnant mother-to-be has been with her child from the moment she was created, adoptive parents begin their relationship with their child many months later, even if they have the good fortune to be present at the birth. Adopt internationally and you will almost certainly miss out on many months–or years–of your child’s life. This is how it was with our daughter.
She was six-months-old when we met her, and the time that elapsed between our first, registration, trip to our second court trip was five months. Five long months.
I remember a number of people telling us a year is “nothing” in a baby’s life, meaning she wouldn’t remember the orphanage and the transition to her adoptive family would be easy. Three years down the road as a family, I will say I disagree. A year is a lot of time in a baby’s life, especially the first year.
Saying goodbye at the end of our registration trip. Baby Bird was six-months-old.
On March 17th, we went back to the orphanage where we’d first met our little one when she was six-months-old. In the five months that transpired between our registration trip and our court trip we hadn’t received any information or photographs. We had no idea what she would look like–what she would be like. For those of you reading this post, who have given birth, try to imagine what it might be like to take a five-month hiatus from your child during the first year of her life.
When they brought her out, it took me a minute to recognize her. She had hair! Lots of hair. Her once green eyes were now decidedly brown. She was much bigger. There was less “baby” in her face and more toddler. And the blue dots? Well, she was recovering from chicken pox and the nurses put a tincture on to help her sores heal.
Saying hello again, five months later. Baby Bird is 11 months old.
Big Papa and I passed her between us, wondering if there was any recollection of who we were lodged somewhere in the far reaches of her memory. When we first met her on our registration trip, I’m sure she thought she’d hit the jackpot with two new nannies who were spending a lot of one-on-one time with her. How nice! And I imagine, after the week passed and we left, she might have felt puzzled, “Where did they go?”
Dada and daughter. She might have been thinking, “Who are these people?”
For us, seeing her again was surreal. In a matter of days, this little girl would become our daughter. Forever.
Take the road less traveled, Beth