Today, Ben and I started some required training in international adoption. The bulk of the material covers the challenges - physical, developmental, psychological - that will affect any child who has spent time in an orphanage or other institution. I think the primary objective is to cause prospective parents to really think about the choice they're making to become a parent to one of these children.
The statistics really are concerning. Adopted kids clearly are at a higher risk for learning disabilities, growth deficiencies, sensory disorders, developmental delays, etc. The longer the time spent in an institution, the higher the risk and the more potentially severe the problems.
If you haven't noticed by now, I am human, and my thoughts are primarily selfish (check previous posts for proof). So, of course, I am reading this research, and one of the thoughts that races through my head is, "Oh crap, I hope we get a normal kid." Or something like that. You start trying to list what you can handle (speech delays) versus what you can't (attachment disorders).
Your thoughts switch from selfish to superhero. "I should get an older kid who might have lots of problems and then we can love him and care for him."
Either way, I know I am way off base and have a lot to trust God with. I don't know what kind of challenges this child will face, but I do know this:
My baby - whomever he is - is amazing. He is a gift from God and I will canoe across the ocean if I have to to get him. Not because I can "save" him or "fix" him, but because he is mine and he is precious, and I don't want him going to sleep one more night without him hearing "I love you."
Wow. All of this, and we haven't even done a home study yet. Looks like this is shaping up to be one emotional ride.
The other thought I am thinking is this: Ideally, our little Rwandan miracle will love me too. He will jump on his daddy, wrestle his brother, and kiss his sister. But, there is a worst case scenario, where he lacks the psychological or emotional stability to love me back. But, just because he can't respond to my love doesn't make him any less deserving of it.
Earlier this week, I checked a picture book out of the library called, "The Color of Home" by Mary Hoffman. It looked to be about an African boy moving to America, and I thought it might be neat to read it with Simon so we could both begin to think of the journey our little brother will be making.
In the book, Hassan is coming from the war-torn land of Somalia and on his first day of American school, draws a picture of his uncle being killed outside of his home - complete with a gun, bullets, and blood spatter. I was stunned, and relieved I hadn't read it to Simon yet.
My Simon doesn't know what a gun is. He thinks policemen help people. He doesn't know about war. But, a few thousand miles away (or a few miles away I'm sure), there are little boys who see things and are affected by things so traumatic that there need to be picture books written to address these subjects.
I haven't addressed these things with Simon in an effort to shelter him, but in an effort to be sensitive to his tender heart. He thinks about things so intensely....
But there is a real world, and we are raising him to be a citizen of the world - where children are hurt and babies starve and it will be his responsibility to do something about it. This adoption thing - the prospect of mothering a baby who has been hurt, abandoned, possibly abused, maybe witnessed trauma with infant eyes, makes me realize it's getting to be time for the scary real world to work its way into our conversation.
Lots to think about.