Monday, January 24, 2011

I want people to know

One of the sweetest parts of the adoption process is sending your child-to-be a care package.  I love that our agency does this.  They give you a list of what to send them, and then they deliver it to your child.

But not before your five kids pose excitedly with the bags before setting off to the post office.  (No Biniam does NOT have a long braid in his hair--that's one of those thingies that keeps your glasses from falling down.  Just wanted to clarify.)

We had so much fun putting together packages for M. and T., our two little girls we're adopting from Ethiopia. 

Part of the thought behind this is so the girls can start anticipating joining our family, so they can see photos of us and their new home, and so they can enjoy some fun gifts.  This is often when the child finds out that they have a family.

The other piece of this is, of course, that the other children and caregivers see that this child has a family adopting them.  It is a joyful thing and a time for celebration when a child receives this package.

Orphanages and transition homes are a bit of a revolving door--adoptive families in and out on court trips, volunteer groups coming in to work on projects.  Thus, many people have met M. and T.  Many families have seen them and held them.  And so I've often wondered what people think when they see our they realize they have Down syndrome, and then pity them?  Do they assume they don't have a family, and feel badly, because surely it must be hard to find a family for a waiting child with Down syndrome?  (It's also highly possible that they assume they DO have a family, because they are so darn cute.  :)  In all seriousness, I don't know.  Maybe people DON'T feel bad, or think about it at all.  I know my heart hurt so much for the children without families when we brought our sons home.)

This is part of why I was so.very.excited. to send off those packages.  Because I want people to know that these girls have a family.  That these girls, each born with an extra chromosome, have someone coming for them. 

That T., who lives with the rest of the babies who are adopted so very quickly, is being adopted too.  That she has lots of soon-to-be-siblings, including an older sister who's planning to put her pjs on her every night.  And soon-to-be-parents who are getting SO anxious to get her and her soon-to-be-sister home. 

And a mom who may or may not be nesting like crazy just thinking about it, and consequently bought her and Mary sweet matching crib sets. 

And our M. is finally getting closer to going home too.  The child who our agency thought could never be placed due to unresolved paperwork issues, is getting a mom and a dad.  And a bunch of thrilled siblings.  This girl who has struggled so hard to learn to walk  and to meet her milestones in a country with limited resources for people like her, will be joining this family before too terribly long. 

Whose soon-to-be-mama just bought her an adorable bedding set with the sweetest owls on it.

Yes.  I want people to know.

So we sent our bags, which consisted of the following items:

etsy shirts with the girls' respective initials sewn on them
1 toy each
labeled photo albums of their new family (us!)
blankets sewn by sweet friend
disposable cameras

The blanket is something I have to tell you about.  A very sweet friend told me she wanted to sew a blanket for each of our girls, but each blanket would be in two halves--one was for us to send to the girls, the other was to remain here.  So they'd have something familiar to transition home to, and if their half is still there when we travel, we can bring it home and sew the blanket back together.

Just thinking about this friend's heart and the loving care she went to, to sew these blankets for two little girls on the other side of the world, pretty much brings me to tears.  I like looking at our halves and thinking about how our girls will be snuggling with THEIR halves. 

And I like thinking about how our girls will be flipping through their albums.  Wearing their pretty, Mommy-couldn't-resist-and-splurged-a-little-bit-on-etsy shirts with the hand-sewn, girly pink appliques.

But most of all?  I love thinking about what it all means.  They have a family.  That family is us.  Travelling families will know that M. and T. will soon no longer be waiting.  And they'll know that our family is so crazy blessed because these girls will be our daughters.

Of course the flip-side of all of this is that countless other children ARE still waiting.  And this makes me sad.  Inevitably I will go to my girls' transition home and, mingled with the joy and pride I will surely feel upon meeting them and becoming their mother, I will feel a grave sadness as I look around and see the multitude of children without families yet.  Most of them older, and many with medical needs or developmental delays or unknown diagnoses. 

I can only hope and pray that more and more adopting families will consider by-passing the waitlist to pursue the adoption of a waiting child.

And I will make sure to give our girls an extra tight hug, and thank God that somehow He, in His profoundly life-giving goodness and grace, decided to bring us together.


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