Today we went back to the governmental office where we met Gigi yesterday to sign the paperwork to make her officially ours. We have had her for 24 hours now. At this point, technically, we could either ask for 24 more hours to “decide”, tell them we prefer not to continue, or sign the paperwork to make her ours. The boys and I had a conversation about these three options last night. I had this conversation with them in anticipation of our guide asking us if we are going to proceed with the adoption. This question will haunt them, the way it haunts me, because the answer is unwavering in our home.
This is forever.
To think there is any other option stands at odds with everything we’ve ever taught them about their place in our family. I can’t imagine bringing them here, having them watch me meet Gigi and then saying “I’m sorry, this isn’t for us.” We discussed the ways that would ruin her life, teach her to lose her faith in forever family, crush her spirit, and probably make the caregivers who have cared for her all this time think she is unworthy. But, I asked them how it would make them feel about themselves. They answered honestly, uncertain.
They’ve lived with me all their recollected lives. They’ve never known another mom. Yet, if I turned my back on Gigi now, it would shape Gigi’s future, and theirs, in ways we couldn’t come back from. They would be forever uncertain on whether or not I would turn my back on them if their needs became to great. What if they aren’t perfect? Is giving them back an option? Some people choose to do just this. They choose to say “I’m sorry, this isn’t for us.” I hear all the reasons, and I acknowledge they are real. I’ve felt them. The jet lag, the fear, the newness of a child who is completely foreign to you, one who has HUGE needs are all there.
There are unexpected moments every single time we adopt. There are concerning behaviors. There is uncertainty. My God, I get it. I came home three years ago this month with a child who was diagnosed as terminal. Tess could have died. She was dying. What kind of pain would that have inflicted upon our family had she? What would have that done to all my kids? Losing a child shapes your life forever. Fighting what we did for Tess, what we will for Gigi, will shape our lives forever.
Gigi has some behaviors that are concerning. Behaviors that indicate some significant developmental delays. I was prepared for this. She is deaf, and blind in one eye. She has a scar that wraps around her right side that reminds us that she lived through a rather complex heart surgery without a mom to advocate for her, yoga breathe with her, reassure her. She did this all with no way to communicate her fear to anyone. Would you be delayed if you were a child who had lived through that? I’d be catatonic. The left side/back of her head is completely flat. We discovered that in the bath tub last night. She must have laid in a crib for so long. She grinds her teeth constantly. Is it a self-stimming behavior or is it anxiety? Who knows? She waves her hands oddly in front of her face. We’re distracting her, loving her, offering her alternatives until we can get home and meet with OT, PT and the rest of the team of people that will help her reach her fullest potential. She’s 3.5 years old and wears diapers. She runs off balance and with jerky movements. She moans loudly sometimes. People stare at her, and at us, all day long. At some point, someone will undoubtedly refer to her as “retarded.” It’s coming. We’re ready.
What will this do to my kids? What will having a sibling with this level of need do to them?
Make them better human beings. They adore her. The two who are with me are fierce about her. People stare, and they stare right back. They tell me all the time, “Oh mom, she’s so cute.” She is, but she’s not a baby. She’s a curious preschooler who acts like a toddler, climbs all over them and tries to wreck their stuff.
They are unconcerned.
This is their sister. She is theirs, and they are hers. That means forever.
Today, we made it so.
Photo credits: Brady Ketarkus
–FullPlateMom, who is so proud of her two eldest boys.