For the past year, a dear friend has been in an adoption process. I’ve watched others over the years. From the first paperwork to the trip overseas and then the first meeting… it’s always fascinating. I enjoy seeing the differences in how countries handle things. It fascinates me. Some seem to whiz past at speeds that seem unreal.
And the heartache. I’ve seen that too. The mother who had everything ripped apart close to the end of the process. The mother who is waiting after YEARS and will finally get to bring home her babies soon… leaving a sibling in a grave in his home country. They aren’t babies anymore. And my friend. She was matched with a baby. Just days before it would have become official, an official confiscated the baby girl and she was sent out of the country. Oh, the heartache. We all wept for them.
I watched as my friend turned her grief into joy as the other child they’d considered became officially theirs. I watched as she researched. I watched as she prepared. I watched as her heart knit in a womb of a different kind with her daughter thousands of miles away. And I watched how others interacted with her– particularly those who had walked that road already.
Watching is fascinating… and one thing that this outsider noticed is that when reading about how things will be, even (if not especially) those who have adopted previously will comment about how “this will happen” and “that will happen” as if people are adopting Webkinz rather than people who are individuals. I’m astounded at how often I read, “your kid will love having her hair played with” or “your kid will hate having her hair played with.” I rarely saw comments like, “Some kids react strongly to people messing with their hair. In our case, our daughter loved it but…” They were almost all decided opinions almost as if laws.
From how they slept to what they ate to being naturally possessive or unattached to “things”, It seems like everyone expects being an adoptee to be the defining personality trait rather than one of many. Even now that little Kiffanie is here and home, I see her mother responding to expectations. I don’t even know if she knows that she does it. If she says the girl is settling in well, she’s quick to acknowledge that this could change. If she says she doesn’t have this or she does do that, and obviously some or a lot of children do the opposite, she makes a point of recognizing that. It really is amazing.
There are so many things to learn about adopting. I know that all I know from watching is that I know pretty much NOTHING. However, I have learned one very valuable lesson from the observation deck. If I ever adopt, I am going to work hard to keep in mind that all the advice and “knowledge” in the world about the process of adoption won’t change the fact that the child is still a person– an individual–and keeping that thought in mind as it seems my friend, Dell, has is probably one of the most important things I could do.
Thanks for the lesson, Dell.