Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Falling in Love

Yesterday marked the 2 month anniversary of Kimberly joining our family.  That day in Boston seems so far behind us now.

Jamie and I began our fifth adoption journey back in the Spring, initially thinking we would be going to Ghana, and then we thought our daughter was in Estonia.  It is not uncommon in the adoption world for parents to switch countries, or for the child at the end of the adoption journey to not be the same one they envisioned at the beginning of the adoption journey.  Therefore I should not have been surprised at the changes for us, but here I am, with a little 2 month old baby when I never considered we would be blessed with such a wee one.

My feelings for Kimberly were so conflicted the first few weeks of her joining us.  This domestic adoption is so entirely different from any of our international adoptions.  They were all so....anonymous.  Each of our internationally adopted children was left at the hospital or orphanage by their birthparents because of being born with Down Syndrome.  I was not required to spend time thinking about their emotions.  

I did not have to look them in the eye and promise to love their child as much as they do, even as the tears in their eyes made it clear how great was their love for her.  I did not have to promise to make sure that even though she is the youngest of 9 she will get just as much love and attention as if she were our only one. 

With our anonymous adoptions I was able to be the Mommy that gives that an orphan a home, and secretly wonder how a woman could carry a child for 9 months and then give her away because her country's culture or society might make it difficult to raise a child with Down Syndrome. (Let's be honest, what adoptive parent has never once thought like this, even if it isn't our place to judge?)

This time was different.  The first few weeks I felt like I was simply raising someone else's child for them.  I loved her like I had promised, but she was not my baby, she was still theirs.  We did not change Kimberly's  name out of respect for them, but sometimes I thought we should have, that it would make her more mine if Jamie and I had chosen her name. 

Slowly I stopped feeling like I was doing her birthparents some huge favor, and she became my daughter.  I stopped feeling guilt for taking her when maybe I should have found a way to make it possible for them to raise her.  After all, were their circumstances their fault?  Who was I to agree to take a baby from loving parents and raise her as my own?

Kimberly's birthparents made a decision, probably their most difficult ever, based on sacrificial love.  They are amazing people who truly loved their daughter, and wanting to be Kimberly's mother gave me a lot of guilt.  The first few weeks were hard, but I no longer feel like I am raising someone else's baby.  She is my daughter, I am her mother, and we are blessed.

And still, I cannot stop thinking about all the babes left in the orphanages.  I do not know the emotions of their birthparents, but having seen the photos and read the stories of some of those places, I cannot help but think that there is nothing sacrificial about leaving a wee one there.  I know that there have to be some amazing parents in those countries who are doing what they can to erase the stigma of having a special needs child. 

If you would like to consider adopting a child with Down Syndrome, or supporting a family who is in process, please visit Reece's Rainbow to learn more.  You can also help raise grants on individual children so they are more likely to be chosen for adoption-- because it is very expensive. 

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