Monday, August 06, 2007

No Crescendo

Last week we found out that we have been approved by the Chinese government to be Thor’s parents. Holy crap.

The approval came in the form of our Letter of Acceptance or Seeking Confirmation (LOA/SC). This is the most coveted of documents in China’s Waiting Child Program. It’s like getting your referral in the traditional, or non-special needs, program. Essentially, it’s huge. It means they have reviewed our files, reviewed our petition to adopt Thor, reviewed Thor’s special needs and deemed us good and fit parents. Holy crap!

There is now nothing but a few simple pieces of paper and a few thousand miles standing between us and our daughter. Holy crap!!!

We are thrilled, yes, but I’ll be honest with ya’. There are a lot of other emotions going on as well. And some of them have nothing to do with rainbows or ladybugs.

I don’t like comparing the process of adoption to the process of giving birth because they are very different on many levels. I have felt uncomfortable when listening to people make comparisons because it *sometimes* sounds like a desperate attempt by a potential adoptive mother to FEEL pregnant or to validate (for her or for other people) the connection to her adopted child and, in doing so, implying that being pregnant is better than adopting. And I don’t feel that way.

Therefore, it feels very strange to admit that I feel like Thor has been growing inside of me since the day I laid eyes on her. I have grown to think about her constantly. Every move I make, every decision I make, absolutely EVERYTHING that I do, I do with her in mind. Everything. I look at her face and not only do I know, intellectually, that I’m her mother, but I FEEL like her mother. I didn’t start out this way, but I’ve become this way. I can sense what her skin will feel like and what her little hands will feel like. I can see her running across our floor. I can feel her on my lap, and I sense her concentration as I read her a book. I can almost...almost hear her cry.

So I think I’m ready for this. Heck, I know I’m ready for this. But I have to tell ya’....I’m scared shitless.

Going back to the birth/adoption comparison, women give birth to an infant. A little, tiny creature that takes up very little space, sleeps most of the time and cries little cries with little lungs. Thor, on the other hand, will be 18 months old when we she storms into our lives. Very different story. They’re all different but, generally, toddlers take up more space than their small frames can account for, sleep only when they darn well feel like it, and have a loud desire to make sure people think you’re the worst parent in the world every time you step out into public. People give birth to infants so that, by the time they’re toddlers, they have learned how to parent this creature.

I just finished a book entitled “Toddler Adoption – The Weaver’s Craft” by Mary Hopkins-Best. It’s a great book that describes some of the trials that adoptive parents can expect when adopting a toddler, and how they might address these “issues”. I won’t go into the “issues” here because many of them are scary. Like really really really scary. Due to the objective of the book, she doesn’t spend much time talking about how wonderful your life will be after you adopt your little one. It’s all just plain scary. Yes, she presents effective tools for addressing these “issues”, which I am thankful to know about, but that doesn’t take away the scary. Just because you know you can repel vampires with garlic, doesn’t make them any less scary -OR- knowing that George Bush will someday be out of office, doesn't make him any less scary. So, obviously, that’s where this fear is coming from. (I love what people are thinking right now...”Oh Lord! She’s comparing her daughter to the undead! – please.)

Adopting a toddler feels kind of like a trial by fire. It’s not a slow build-up, or crescendo, to the maelstrom. Rather, you just start there.

I’m excited by my new (umpteenth) on-line group for parents of toddlers adopted from China. I’m sure I’ll find one or two kindred spirits there. I need to talk to people who understand the fear that their daughter will be repelled by them, who understand the isolation when nobody in your circle of friends can relate to your situation, who understand the rages and the grieving and the frustration and the night terrors. Who understand this particular kind of scary.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Project Ni Hao said...

Oh, I'd be scared out of my mind too. Honestly, not being scared would be scarier, if that makes sense. Sounds like your preparations are well under way, though, and that can make all the difference in the world. You're gonna be one helluva momma!

5:11 PM  
Blogger wzgirl said...

You've got the best thing going here, Millicent. You are approaching this maelstrom with an open heart. You are preparing as much as you can while holding the reality that there is just so much that you'll have to learn as you go.

Don't forget how many of us are cheering for you, Thor and Floyd over here on the sidelines. XOXO

6:20 PM  
Anonymous SBird said...

I love that book, too. Yes, it's scary, but R. and I just said the other night that we would NEVER adopt a baby now, even if we were given the option. It's so much more fun, and more meaningful, I think, to adopt a toddler.

The hardest part for me has been convincing parents of bio-children that the issues we face are different than theirs--you'll discover that people will want to just dismiss out-of-hand your concerns with abandonment issues and race issues.

So happy about the LOA!!!!!!

7:04 PM  
Blogger walternatives said...

As my beloved grandfather used to say "Ain't no hill for a stepper." And you and Floyd ARE steppers deluxe. I need to re-read that book, as it was, oh, a year ago that I read it the first time.

Can I just say how happy I am to be in-line behind the likes of you (and FDChief and SBird)? Not just following, but witnessing your growth and learning from it - learning from the AP's we've connected with, the ones we love.... kisses to you and Floyd and your sweet toddler, Thor.

7:28 PM  
Blogger FDChief said...

Oh...you need MORE scary stuff to worry about? You're nuts, girl. And I mean that in a good way.

Just one slight amendment.

"A little, tiny creature that takes up very little space, sleeps most of the time and cries little cries with little lungs."

???

When you guys get back we need to look over Shea's "baby book". The one that we abandoned after eight weeks because we were too burned out and disoriented to remember day from night? The one which, by the end of the entries, reads like it was written by an inmate of Charenton?

Compared to Shea, Argus was a freakin' narcoleptic.

"People give birth to infants so that, by the time they’re toddlers, they have learned how to parent this creature."

Hmmmm. Let's keep this in mind and revisit it in a couple of years. We're STILL learning how to parent the Critter, and I expect we will be until he (and she) move into their own homes and start their OWN families...

But, hell, I'm nitpicking. You know how we feel. Love and congratulations to you three. Let's hurry up and work through the last of the introduction so we can start in working on the story of our children's lives...

10:08 PM  
Blogger Cavatica said...

Phew! What a wonderful, terrifying, exhausting post. What are we all doing anyway??? --- and I'm very excited for you.

1:56 AM  
Blogger FDChief said...

I should add - I wasn't sure when I posted the first comment - that mi esposa read the "Toddler Adoption" book and HATED it: got all freaky and upset by the horror stories about problems with adoptees. We had to talk a lot about it before she was willing to accept that the is a strong bias in the adoption community to talk about the problems with adoption. Let's face it, who's gonna read a book that consists of a bunch of people saying stuff like "Well, yeah, we had some sleep problems but she mostly got on fine." or "We did have to do some extra bonding but otherwise it was pretty uch your basic toddler stuff." The kids to have the toughest times make the best stories - ever heard of the definition of "adventure story" as "someone else having the shittiest imaginable experience of a lifetime"?

I worry all the time - as you can tell by my blog post of 8/5/07 - but I'd have to call this one a managable worry, overall.

Dating?

Ohmyfuckinggod.

We'll just have to jump of that bridge when we come to it...

4:50 AM  
Blogger FDChief said...

Where's spellcheck when I need it...

4:51 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Wow! So many feelings to deal with at once!!! It sounds like you have done your research and are ready. If you need advice for night terrors, let me know. Kieren has had them since our first week home (Dec. 2005) and they are still going strong. She is 28.5 months old now.

Can't wait for you to meet Thor!!!!

Sam @ Just Keep Swimming
http://samcampbell.blogspot.com

6:35 AM  
Blogger Avery's Mom & Dad said...

First congrats on your approval, and being deemed good parents to Thor.
I am sure it is very scary, and it is like anything else we have not done before...it just takes a little bit to get in the groove. You have already made the right step, you are aware of what is different about a toddler compared to an infant. I am certain you are going to do great, and there is always someone to ask in the BTDT world.
I don't think people should compare "bio" to "adopted" because it is like comparing apples to oranges. They are different circumstances, and a different situation, but it doesn't make them any less. You are gonna be parents and she is going to be your daughter, you will love her with every sense of your being, and that is what is important.
I think there is a quote from an adopted parent who says that I have 2 bio children and 2 adopted children....but I don't remember which is which, and it really isn't important as they are my children none the less.
I think you are going to be a fantastic mother.
So excited for you, and hope you get your TA soon.

2:54 AM  
Blogger steph said...

I was scared, but now am too tired to be scared! Although I got the teeny kind, sleeping and eating and peeing, the fear I was too full of myself and my abilities was always a little nag on my shoulder. Still pipes up and will continue to do so for, well, probably forever. I just give him a good flick to shut him up.....

I figure we've both thought about this, dreamed about this, fucking LONGED for this for so long that the rest is up to karma. She'll make sure we don't get more then we can handle. That bitch owes us one (0:

And I laugh thinking of our whole family sitting around a big table at thanksgiving, looking like the united colors of benneton!

2:51 AM  
Blogger Mike, Hayley & Piper said...

Congrats!

We are in line for a toddler through our agency waiting child program...it's very scarey, and I go through moments of whether we are cut out for it or not...we have a 2.5 year old and will adopt up to six months younger, but no closer...as I want my 1st to be truly the oldest...dont even want to attempt birth order shuffle...

I am preparing for the worst, hoping for the best possible, but knowing it will be a shitload of hard work regardless.

My thoughts are with you...and, if all else fails there's always guiness huh!

Hayley

3:15 AM  
Blogger Kelli said...

It sounds like you are preparing yourself as well as you can before the full on experience happens...I for one have been witnessing this very thing you talk about with my friend's newly adopted 2 1/2 yr old over the past 4 months- and I'm telling you, the waiting mamas are all getting nervous-all of this, and then some, face on, weekly, almost daily we hear details-good to know, but SCARY all the same- that said, some families come home with 18 month olds and have very few problems. Here's hoping for a smooth transition and manageable roadblocks.

2:23 AM  

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