Friday, January 16, 2015

Adopting a Toddler Part 1 - The Call and the Meeting

When we began our adoption journey, we already had 8 and 10 year old girls and didn't feel the driving need to adopt a newborn. We talked with our consultant and were told that infants are most commonly available via domestic adoption. We considered foster care but didn't believe that was the right direction. So, we started down the path of domestic adoption. We prepared our hearts for an infant but inside we both were hoping for an older child.

So we made sure our home study approved us for a child up to two years old. Just in case.

The picture texted to us by the agency when we said yes.
Less than two months after completing our home study, we were matched with a lovely young mama living in our area. We connected with her and her family very quickly and prepared for the infant to be born in less than two months. This sweet mama chose to parent once she met her little one and we put away the items we bought, while waiting for the little one God had for us.

A few months later, we received an unexpected call. Without much introduction they asked if we were interesting in adopting an 18 month old boy. After praying, the answer was yes!

What came next was a flurry of activity as we packed, completed some additional paperwork from the agency, informed our friends and family, and gathered funds before beginning a long 22 hour drive to Florida. From the time we got the call to the moment we met our son was less than 36 hours, including the drive.

Our girls watching for him.
After signing papers and writing checks, we headed outside to watch for our son's arrival. As we sat in the agency parking lot waiting for the foster family, the reality hit me.

I was not adopting an infant but a little boy who had already lived 18 months and had over a year and a half's worth of experiences that I had no control over.

When he arrived, I quickly realized I was out of my depth. My children were so much older, I didn't remember how to interact with an active 18 month old...who could run...very fast...away from everyone while grinning from ear to ear.

Trying to get run again.
I was bombarded by doubts about my ability to parent him, to meet his needs in the face of such great loss, to even figure out how to corral him with the foster family and two agency staff watching. Trying to hide my discomfort, I talked to him, we chased, we played and we offered snacks. All the while, I was thinking, "I can't do this, I don't know how!"

While I definitely thought my new son was the cutest little boy I had ever seen, I did not feel instantly bonded, attached, or drawn to him. As I struggled to find my equilibrium, I prayed for him, prayed for his transition to our family and prayed for myself.

Little did I know that the next months would cause me to pray more intensely and experience more love and joy over that little boy than I could ever have imagined. Part 2 here.

The only time he wasn't running away was if he was eating...

or on top of Dad's shoulders.

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