Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The Great Adoption Exhaustion
I say "Great" as in massive. About a year and a half ago my husband and I realized our family wasn't complete and that we were being called to adopt again. It took a while to find out who we were supposed to adopt, but we started the process early knowing that we would likely be adopting a child in severe condition and that we would want to move quickly. We found our little girl the middle of October after having our homestudy almost completed... a little girl who was seven YEARS old and weighed the same as an average 6 MONTH old. We were relieved to know that since this was our second adoption and we were already ahead of the game that we would likely be able to get to her quickly.... That was NOT the case, for whatever reason there was delay after delay but by the end of April I was finally able to go meet this little beauty.
I thought I was prepared. I had adopted a little boy who weighed close to what she did only he was 3 years old...not SEVEN. He was tiny and malnourished and my heart broke when I saw him the first time. I expected her to be the same. She wasn't. She has survived another four years longer in an institution. Lance had cried the whole time on my first trip to meet him, and he continues to have bouts of crying to this day (although they are more "I'm mad at you" cries now ;) ) I expected Ava to do the same thing...only she didn't. She didn't make hardly any noise the whole week. Once when I put her down in her bed to measure her she cried because she didn't want to be put back in her "cell"..ahem I mean bed. Unfortunately I realized that this is the difference a few crucial years makes in a child who is so neglected. She gave up. She quit caring. She quit trying. She doesn't smile nor does she cry because she knows it won't change the reality of the last now EIGHT years of her life. I was grossly unprepared for a silent child.
Ava turned 8 this year and still weighs the same as a 6 month old. Her long body is pale and gaunt while her hands are the size of a baby but without the typical fat stores. Mostly baby teeth are rotted and gray or black, many completely broken off. Trying to swallow, she struggles to get enough calories in her to sustain her tiny frame. At 8, she wears a size 2T with elastic sewn tight to keep them from falling off of her. I find myself wondering HOW?
While visiting Ava, I met another little boy, who I could not ignore. By the end of the week I knew I could not leave him behind. We worked as quickly as possible to get paperwork submitted in order to get him added to our adoption....more delays. By the end of July I was able to return to have an official visit with him.
He is beautiful. With soft blonde curls and big blue eyes, he melted me. I spent the first day just holding him on my lap. His face turned toward my shoulder, he wrapped his arms and legs around mine and didn't move or make a sound for hours. By the end of the day I saw a glimpse that told met this little boy, who is amazingly shy, is unrecognizable when in his comfort zone. Smiling and Giggling in his crib, he grabbed my phone, played, and took "selfies." I realized he is undeniably unused to being in a room with other people, noises, and lights. "Take it slow with this one" I caution myself as the week progresses. Slowly he begins to open up to me more, allowing me to hold him in the big room surrounded by people without being completely plastered against me. I am hopeful that he can overcome his anxiety around people and new situations with some consistent help.
I returned to the good ol USA (can we talk about customs returning to the US? Seriously 2 hours?!)
I digress. Knowing that Ava's condition is not improving and that it takes 2 days for every one spent in an institution to undo the damage I am in a hurry to get both kids home. I know that life will become harder once they are home, there will be countless doctor and therapy appointments, hours will be spent changing diapers and trying to feed kids who are used to starving and don't know how to eat. The relative quiet of our home may quickly be filled with crying and shouting as two children fight their fear, confusion, and lack of control. Life will not be easy for a long time...correction EVER. Yet, I am in a hurry to bring them home? Yes. I know that as difficult as it is to adopt children who have been hurt, neglected, abused, and starved it was not something they ever had a choice in. Our lives in the USA are so easy compared to the lives of children dying too young at the hand of an unjust world.
So here we go...It's November and we finally have a court date (a month later than many families who were submitted after us) and it's NOVEMBER 15, 2016. These two precious lives will become legally ours on November 15.