“When Abby comes home can I still get together with my friends sometimes?”
Yes. She’s not going to be here just to visit. She’s here forever.
This is a concept that excites and amazes me. Up to this point any communication or interaction has been guided. While we were in Haiti, we had guidelines as to where we could take her in the community and had to let the staff know when we were heading out and when we got back in. There was a schedule to keep – what time we could pick her up in the morning, have her back for afternoon nap and see her afterwards. Her menu was decided long before our arrival. Her hair was done by the nannies. If we had a question, we asked the staff.
Since we’ve been home, if we have a question about Abby we have to contact our agency who contacts the orphanage staff. Once they’ve received a response at the agency, then they contact us with it. We receive updates on her health and growth and wellbeing monthly. If we want to send a gift it goes through the staff.
We welcome all this guided interaction, but I marvel at the transition of guides.
Tonight as I cleaned the table after supper, I was reminded again that in the near future, Abby will be at this table. She will eat what we decide to cook, when we decide to eat. She will wear the clothes we have prepared for her here. Go to bed with the bedtime routine we set. She will not just visit the community on walks – but live in it and interact with it. She will roam in this house and yard. This will be her home. I won’t need to ask permission if I can take her upstairs to read her a book, take her outside to go to the park or have a snack. We will be her guides now.
This terrifies me a little. And I can not even fathom how it will feel for wee Abby.
They say adopting a toddler is one of the most difficult ages to do so. The child knows something is going on – but can’t quite articulate what they are feeling and experiencing.
One day, in the hopefully not too distant future, we will arrive in Haiti and be reunited with Abby who has now become our daughter in our absence. It would be lovely to think she remembers us clearly and holds onto our memories. But ask any three year old what they did last week and good luck getting an accurate response. Now, imagine asking a three year old what they did 9 months ago with people they spent only two weeks with… yeah. I don’t think it’ll be a clear recollection.
We had a wonderful two weeks with Abby and she was eager to see us each day. But for a child who does not understand the role of parents – I’m not sure we were anything more than two people who gave her undivided love & attention, snacks and occasionally presents. Pretty exciting in the present – but in our absence, I’m not sure those memories remain.
And this is ok – we do not expect her to remember us clearly. We try to be realistic in our expectations. We have left photos, audio books of our voices, photo books and more – but don’t know if this toddler will make the connection between these still images, and then the real people who will arrive almost a year later. Although, I have to say, she is extremely brilliant. No bias here. 🙂
I try to imagine those first days. We arrive and it’s exciting (more gifts! snacks! attention!) but then it’ll come time and we leave. Leave everything she’s known. Her friends. Caregivers. Food. Culture. Language. Routine. Clothes. Toys. Smells. Sounds. Everything.
And we will replace it with firsts.
Airplane ride. Seeing the ocean. Customs. Hotel. A new country. So many white people. New language. New home. Bed. Friends. Caregivers. Food. Culture. Language. Routine. Clothes. Toys. Smells. Sounds. Everything.
We can’t even imagine what it will be like for this brave little one in this unbelievable transition. We try to prepare to take on the roles as her new guides. And we pray for patience and wisdom as we all transition into this new normal that will be nothing like anything any of us have ever known before.