The past month or so there's been a lot of talk about toddlers vs baby adoptions. Let me preface this post by saying that age really doesn't matter and it's totally up to the parents regarding what they are ready for, and what they hope for. It's really not a matter of debate. ALL children deserve loving homes, regardless of their ages.
I can understand why many parents are unsure and uneasy about adopting a toddler or older child so I would like to share my perspective on the issue.
I don't remember how it came to be that we wanted a toddler. I just didn't see us with an infant, and that was absolutely fine with us. There was a positive aspect for me at the prospect of avoiding or bypassing the baby stage. I realized I would never witness my child's first word, first tooth, first step, but there was comfort in the fact that we would have plenty more firsts to enjoy together.
I had just learned about Kyrgyzstan when I called an agency to ask about more information about their program in this country. We weren't too far into our conversation when she asked what age child was I hoping for. I responded around 18 months, boy or girl, it didn't matter. She suddenly got excited and explained that they had a little boy that they had been try for some time to find a family for and she'd be more than happy to send me his referral.
As I hung up the phone, my head was spinning. Did I just get a referral? I hadn't even completed my home study, started a dossier and knew next to nothing about this little central Asian country. But shortly I had an e-mail with pictures of this little boy, who had no parents and lived on the other side of the Earth in an orphanage. This fateful call was made on a Friday night and I had to wait until Monday to get his medical. I spent all weekend looking at his picture in disbelief. Is this our son?
I had checked my e-mail a thousand times on Monday when finally the little boy's medical arrived. I had never even seen a medical so I had no idea what to expect. The first thing I noticed was that they had told me an incorrect age, he was not 18 months, but had celebrated his 2nd birthday 3 month earlier. Next my heart sank as I read other things, words like "encephalopathy", "delayed and "retarded". I felt horribly sad and guilty. I forwarded it to an international adoption doctor in Boston and she went over the medical, line by line. She told me many of the scary medical terms were grossly, inaccurately used, but still he had a very low birth weight and he didn't grow well his first year of life. She warned me that these circumstances often resulted in learning disabilities and behavioral issues. I knew that our next step would have to take a huge leap of faith.
You all know how this story ended... or really, began. Fate lead us to this 2 year old boy and I am so thankful. Although we have 'missed' more than 2 years together, there was something special about having this adorable little guy calling me 'Mama' by our 2nd day together. Additionally, I could see his personality immediately, he told me what he likes and dislikes, and moreover I could clearly see how intelligent he was and my worries melted away. It has been such an amazing experience to see him quickly pick up an entirely new language, learn how to live within a family and discover new foods. I'm often speechless on how well he embraces a life full of new things. He has bloomed from a quiet, sad, withdrawn boy to a boisterous, energy-filled, smarty-pants!