Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Which I Write An Entirely Too Long And Sentimental Post About Adoption

I'm sitting here drinking a hot glass of lemon tea (with a generous dollop of honey, of course) and browsing the Internet for children's room decoration ideas.  Since Sylvie is going to another family, I've been trying to give myself some closure so I can start preparing for the next little boy or girl we select off the Waiting Child list.  Sylvie should be joining her new family this week, and I've been trying to picture how happy and excited that family must be to finally meet her and taking her home.  It's helped considerably knowing how much joy they must be experiencing right now, and I'm sure Sylvia will be in good hands.

Even though Sylvie never even knew we existed, I wanted to feel like she was giving me "permission" to start thinking about another child.  Call me silly, but I kind of felt like I a needed a little private ceremony to send her off, like the ones I had for all of the children I miscarried.  So I decided that I'd pick out something for the new child and think of it as a gift from Sylvie. 

Because we got Sylvia a stuffed animal owl as a first gift from us, I thought that something along those lines would be ideal.  Since I don't know yet how old our child (or children, since we're approved for a sibling group) will be though, I wasn't sure a stuffed animal would be appropriate.  So I bought two owl prints (from here and here) that I thought would work for either gender and pretty much any age-- heck, I'd hang them on my bedroom wall-- and I'm thinking of them as a sweet parting gift from the little girl we'll never meet, but will always have a special place for in our hearts.  The second one arrived yesterday, and I feel ready now to start concentrating on finding the child that's still waiting for us out there somewhere.

Okay, and to tell you the truth I probably would have bought these anyway.  Because they are really cute.

As far as that child goes, we're back to the proverbial drawing board.  We're perfectly fine with either a girl or a boy, which means we're much more likely to end up with a boy as there are many more available.  We figured either way we're still going to let them have their own room now though instead of making the boys (if the kid is a boy) share, since Connor's seizure medications have been giving him insomnia lately.  Besides, they'll probably end up sleeping with us for the first six months anyway.  We're approved for a kid (or kids) up to the age of nine with moderate special needs, and honestly there are very few special needs we wouldn't do.  We told the adoption agency we would do pretty much anything except for these four things:

1) Total blindness.  Because Connor can't finger spell into someone's hand and isn't using a computer to talk yet, so our kids couldn't speak to each other if child #2 is completely unable to see.  Also I am way, way too messy to have a kid who is blind-- I never put things down in the same place twice-- and our house is set up for pretty much any disability except blindness.  Not enough transition between rooms, too little color contrast, etc.  So total blindness is probably not a good idea.  A degree of blindness (and yes, legal blindness covers a wide range of vision; Connor actually qualifies as deafblind, believe it or not, because of his Duane Syndrome) would be okay depending on the type and severity of blindness.

2) Severe known behavioral, emotional or psychological issues.  Okay, so there's certainly a risk that any adopted child is going to end up with these due to their traumatic past, and if we end up with a child who fits in this category we'll deal with that as it comes.  Once we've adopted them that's it-- they're family-- and we'll treat them the same way we'd treat a biological child with these sorts of issues.  However, knowingly adopting a child with any of these conditions would not be terribly responsible of us, as Connor is nonverbal and completely unable to defend himself.  Not a good combination.

3) Moderate to severe cognitive delay.  So maybe this is kind of selfish on our parts, but we want our next kid to grow up and leave the house.  Really.  We're already planning our retirement for three, because the odds of Connor ever being able to live on his own are pretty much nil.  Not that we wouldn't be thrilled if it happened, but we're going to do the smart thing and figure he'll be right there with us.  A kid who won't be completely dependent on us for the rest of his or her life sounds like a good plan.

4)  Terminal illness.  We've lost enough children.  While we're planning for three as far as retirement goes, we are well aware that it's more than likely we'll outlive Connor by a good number of years.  So we'd rather not go there again if we can possibly help it, because with our next kid we'd like to try the novelty of worrying about whether or not they will grow up well instead of just worrying about if they will grow up.

Anyway, other than those four things we're pretty much completely open.  Deafness, limb differences, CP, cranialfacial issues, spina bifida, dwarfism, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  No problem.  Hopefully some time in the next week or two we'll go in to the adoption agency and start the process to be matched with a new child.  Because we're so open, I have absolutely no idea what that child will be like, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

In the meantime I'm preventing myself from going completely crazy by continuing to work on what paperwork we can do right now and also by planning the basic decor for our child(ren)'s room.  While we'll leave some things for when they get here so that they have to chance to help decorate the room to their tastes, things like paint colors and major pieces of furniture should already be in place before they arrive.  I like to bargain shop, so it's better for me to get an idea of what I want to do way, way in advance rather than trying to buy everything at the last minute. 

I'm finding it a challenge; designing a completely neutral kid's room isn't exactly a walk in the park.  But I'm deliberately thinking about a room for any child rather than a child of a specific age, gender or special need because until we have that kid physically on the plane I'm probably going to be half-convinced things are going to fall through again. 

I've come up with a general color scheme-- it's gray (along with that latte color and the shoji white trim that's in every room of our house) with turquoise and orange accents-- and I'll spend the next few months happily painting and buying furniture and doing my best to keep myself busy until the day when I've got a little helper (or two) to pick out the finishing touches. 

And I'll hang the pair of owls in a place of pride on the wall, so that when our child or children walk through the door for the very first time into the room where they will grow up, they'll receive a silent, heartfelt welcome home.



*Tasha* said...

Sentimental, yes, but beautiful.

Whatever child you end up with (and I truly feel your "constraints" are 110% reasonable and I hope nobody pulls anything on your family, like claiming a child has no severe behavioral issue when they know well enough the child does, but don't want to admit it or something. Sorry for this random tidbit of horror-story!)--- the child(ren) will be exceedingly lucky. The school district is marvelous (I went there!) and your family is too.

I don't know what I believe in, so I choose not to, but what I DO notice about the universe is that it seems to work itself out. Call it serendipity, call it fate, call it whatever you might like, but things DO seem to fall in place just so, and perfectly... so maybe that is how it was for Sylvie and her family, and how it will be for you and whatever child is out there waiting for a home with two owl pictures in his/her room.

Can't wait to hear about this next step. Love the owls-- they're adorable. Now I want to paint me some cute animals for MY own room.

Kierstyn said...

Hey Jess! I couldn't help but laugh as I read these words, "Deafness, limb differences, CP, cranialfacial issues, spina bifida, dwarfism, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. No problem" No problem. :-) You rock! You and Jeremy have seen so much, dealt with so much, and conquered so much, that things that seem huge to the rest of us are not big deal to you. And I think that's aweswome!

Looking forward to seeing your family grow.

Julia O'C said...

Thinking of you guys. I know this is hard, letting Sylvie go.

Anonymous said...

Searching and waiting and hearing - then searching and waiting and hearing are so hard. Being ready is easy. Thank you for adopting. Thank you for sharing your journey. May the child who comes bring blessing to your home. sg-KS

Christy said...

Thinking of you. I can hardly imagine the difficulty of letting Sylvie go. Sending up a prayer for your search as you expand your family!

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

The owl prints are a great idea (and very cute too!). I know it is hard to let go of Sylvie. I can understand your paranoia about the rest of this process until the child is actually with you. I also have no doubt that you will be matched with the child or children that will "fit" in your family. I have seen so many families adopt and the children could not have been a better fit. God knows what he is doing! In the meantime, have fun decorating and dreaming!

Robin said...

Jess, are you looking only international or within the US? I only mention because there are lots of kids closer than you think in need of home. It is unfortunate, but some kids end up in foster care due to their disabilities. And besides that is where I found two of my terrific sons.

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