Monday, April 17, 2006

Referral age

My son Evan came home from college this weekend to meet his little sister for the first time. Now he will be home for good in three weeks and he had to make a 14 hour trip home for a short 3 day weekend just to meet her. I encouraged him to wait but he couldn't do it. He had to come home and see Olivia. Now, something about Evan that you should know is that he is like the Pied Piper when it comes to children. They love him. They are naturally drawn to him and he loves them in return. Well, when he got home, it took only 5 minutes for Olivia to decide that Evan was going to be her favorite person. When mom is holding her and Evan walks by, mom becomes chopped liver.

Well, now to my point, when Evan was playing with her one day, he made the comment that he was really glad that she was older and not the baby that we had originally hoped for. That got me thinking about referral age again. I had actually gone almost a month without thinking about referral age.

When we started the process I was open to any age. I had asked my husband what age he was interested in. He said, "As young as possible, for bonding purposes." So that is what we asked for. That is what I put in my heart and my head, that is what I dreamed about for over a year. That is what all my sister travel mates were had asked for and were expecting. I saw familes get referrals of babies 6 months to 12 months old. Oh, I hoped for one of the 6 month olds but prepared for a 12-14 month old and told myself that would be okay too. Then the wonderful day came when our referral was here. I waited and held my breath for the information to be given to me about our precious daughter. He said "She is beautiful." He said "She has hair." He said, "Let's see, she is 17 months old." WHAT??? I asked in a whisper, "It can't be." I was shocked, I was stunned. I held the tears back. He gave me her birthday. He told me she could walk, she had 20 teeth, she could go up and down stairs, she could say MAMA. As he read off all the things that he thought we accomplishments to me they were all firsts that I would miss. They were all disappointments. I got off the phone and my family who were all standing in the other room waiting for the information (not so patiently) started questioning me. Before I could answer the tears that I had been holding in started to fall. I cried. Then I was mad at myself and I cried some more. I cried because I didn't want my daughter to ever know that I cried from disappointment on the day that I found out about her. Then with I realized HE messed up. She wasn't 17 months old she was 19 months old. For some reason that two extra months hurt even more.

While the rest of my travel mates were joyfully announcing their referrals I didn't even want to announce mine. I knew everyone would feel sorry for me. I knew I would feel sorry for someone in my place. I was envious of all the younger babies. I continued to be envious of the younger baby famlies. Even though I loved our Olivia when I saw her picture. I loved her and longed to hold her while waiting to travel to get her. I cried when I went into her room and packed up all the " baby" things I had aquired while waiting. I never wished for a different child but I mourned for the time that I had already missed with her. I will admit I was envious of the my travel mate families that were getting babies while we were in China. I can't say there was a climatic moment when my feelings changed but on "Gotcha Day" when they handed my sweet, little, terrified Olivia to me none of it mattered anymore. The motherly instint took over. I wouldn't have cared if she was 6 months or 5 years old. My job was to comfort her, mother her and take care of her. I never thought again about the "baby" that I didn't get. Not until Evan mentioned that he was glad that Olivia was older. I may not get the attention that I would if I had a baby but it doesn't matter. I have to agree with Evan, I think having an almost two year old has been more fun. She is so engaging. She is delightful. She is animated. She is mischevious. She is snuggly. She is funny. She is inquisitive. She is always watching and learning. She is our Olivia.


Lee-Anne said...

Thank you so much for being so honest Rachel. When I first saw Olivia, I truly thought she is one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen. We've requested a child between 0-18 months - and to be honest, I'm hoping for AYAP - but, in some ways, a toilet trained toddler would be fantastic!!! You have indeed been matched with YOUR daughter - she is adorable.

Linda said...

I appreciated your honesty when you recieved your referral and now as well! I first came upon your blog when you got your referral ... and your initial reaction was part of the reason that I have continued to read your blog/journey.

For everything there is a reason ... and a journey to discovering and understanding that reason ... yours is just beginning! She is a beautiful girl and seems to fit so perfectly into your family ... it would seem that the people in the Matching Room really seem to know what they are doing!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a beautiful post and a beautiful little girl! I, too, appreciate your honesty and will remember your thoughts and feelings as we continue to wait.

Esther & Emma's Jie Jie said...

I felt the exact same way when we got my sisters referral- she was almost 16 months old, and we had asked (and had mentally prepared) for a 6-12 month old. I was a little disappointed she was so "old." But, it was love at first sight on Gotcha Day and it no longer mattered that she was now 18 months old. She could walk and talk, and she definitely didn't sit still, but she was adorable and so much fun! Looking back, a baby just would not have fit in well with our busy family and my sister, Emma fit in perfect.

We have since returned from China a second time, this time with a 3 year old, who is the same age as Emma. I was glad we adopted a three year old because she could talk and was potty trained, but I didn't miss the meltdowns and temper tantrums! I did think about how neat it would be to get a baby, but my new sister fits in perfectly. Sure... there are times when both of them are screaming and we're all about to rip out our hair.. but most of the time.. they are a lot of fun!

big sis to Emma (b: 2/14/03, a: 8/24/04 from Beijing) and Esther (b: 1/6/03, a: 3/12/06 from Shenzhen)