Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Unknown

I was just emailing a new email buddy who has recently adopted a 16 month old from Ethiopia. Her husband traveled while she stayed back with their young children. I met her through the process of sending her husband off and then the excruciating wait for their return. It is wonderful for those of us in the process to read the stories of others who are getting referrals and also who are traveling and bringing their children home. She was writing that the doctor felt the child might be a few months younger than they originally told her...there was also a scar that she knew nothing about. I was writing her about how there are so many unknowns with international adoption:

"I do think your email brings up some of the difficulties with
International adoption- we are so keen on knowing all of the details
about our kids lives- the first smile, the first time they ate solid
food, the first step etc...Its like we have this book of our child's
life and the first few chapters are just blank pages. My husband was
adopted at 6 months- we knew he was in foster care for 6 months - but
did not know exactly why until we met his Bmom. And even with that-
we know nothing of those first 6 months- we kind of joke about finding
this foster mom- see if she has any pictures or stories about him. So
even with all we really did know about him- we focus on the unknown.
I think for me that will be hard with all of the unknowns.
hang in there...keep me posted and send me a photo of him in a bit
when you can- I want to see how he looks after he has been with his
new Mama for a few weeks."

Things we may not know about the child:
Their given name
Their true birthdate
Their family history
Their own history- who adored them, what they called him or her, if anyone mistreated them
Many of their "firsts"
Their true age
The things and people they liked- foods, songs, people who comforted when they were sad

That being said we hope to gather as much information as we can- and take a lot of pictures of the country and the people. We plan on bringing back items that the child can have from their country. We want to try and fill in some of the blank pages of their story for them as they grow.

We have three baby photos of our kids on the wall leading up the stairs. Being a new homeowner-it was the first thing I did- hang those pictures- kind of claiming this house as our own. Our social worker who did our homestudy noticed the photos- and I pointed out that Maddie's photo is the youngest- she was 4 months old when we got to the photographer, Cal is older- he was 9 or 10 months old and Phoebe is the oldest about a year. So with each child the amount of time before getting to the photographer became longer...I pointed out to the social worker- if we get a toddler then his or her picture will be right on track! I say this but know - that the child may be a bit sad that there are no true "baby" pictures of him or her. But maybe Cal and Maddie can point out how much they make fun of their photos because they think they look kind of funny!

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