Six Months Later

December 27, 2007 at 3:04 pm 7 comments

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Isabel has been my daughter for six months.  We’ve been a family of four for six months.  I’ve learned by ‘listening’ to Isabel how to care for her.  She’s showed me what she needs and when.  She’s taught me her different cries and that the ‘hungry’ one is more urgent than the ‘I’m bored’ cry and different still is the ‘I need a bottle’ or the ‘I need some cuddles’ cry.  I speak fluent Isabel-ese. 

It hasn’t always been easy, not by a long-shot.  I’m not speaking about the love part.  The love just comes and has been there since meeting her and holding her.  But being the kind of mom she needs has taken time and lots of mistakes.  I hate that that’s true, but it is.  I wish I could say that since I had already been a mom to a baby before Isabel, that I seamlessly parented her from the day I brought her to our home.  But I didn’t. 

I had to learn that she likes to be held close, but she needs to be able to look out and around.  She likes to sleep on her own and adores her crib.  (She won’t co-sleep…have mixed feelings about that)  She loves savory foods over fruit or sweeter things.   I had to learn that she is, at times, tentative.  She holds back a minute, decides if she trusts what you’re offering her, and then pushes it away or grabs it with a smile.  She’s shown us who she is over time, and it’s been nothing short of amazing to watch it all unfold. It’s lovely. 

I look into those deep, brown eyes and wonder, “Where did you come from?”  “Your mother must be beautiful and graceful because you certainly are.”  I wonder what her mother is doing and if she’s safe.  I wonder exactly what circumstances led to her decision regarding her baby girl.  I hope that she is not suffering.  I wish we could send her letters and pictures, and we do send pictures and notes to the orphanage in case she comes looking, but that’s just not the same.  I wish that young women, particularly women in impoverished nations, didn’t have such impossible choices when faced with an unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage.  I heard my husband talking softly to Isabel the other night as he brought her down to her bath.  He said, “I’m so sorry your mom couldn’t keep you and raise you.  But since she felt that she couldn’t, I’m so lucky that we get to raise you.  We’ll take you back to Kyrgyzstan and find her if you want to.  We’re here to take care of you.”  Those were some powerful words for me to overhear.  He’d got it just right.  For me, hearing that with adoptee ears, he’d got it just right. 

Over the holidays I heard the often-said “That’s one lucky girl”.  With my extended family and with close friends, I usually reply with a minimum of, “No, we’re the lucky ones.”  And we are.  Isabel has lost so much and has been through enough without the added burden of hearing how ‘lucky’ she is.  She deserves a childhood free of obligation, guilt and the message that her existence in our family is one in which she ought to feel grateful.  We’re going to set up her whole childhood around the truths around her birth and adoption, and let her feelings come without our own feelings getting in the way.  She’s not in our family to help us overcome infertility.  She’s not here in any sort of ‘occupational’ way.  It’s hard that it happened this way – for her mother and for her.  Never for a moment do I push aside the enormous losses Isabel and her mother will always carry with them.  But now, and for the future, Isabel is in our family.  She’s my daughter.  She’s thriving and lovely.  For that, and so much more – I am so incredibly lucky. 

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Entry filed under: adoptees, adopting, Adoption, Adoption Ethics, adoptive, birth mothers, Children, Daughters, Family, first mothers, International Adoption, Isabel, Kyrgyzstan, Motherhood, Parenting, Travel.

Monday with my girls These Two Are My World

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. justenjoyhim  |  December 27, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    She’s beautiful. As are you and the rest of your family.

    What a sweet message your husband was telling her. How wonderful that you were able to hear it.

    Reply
  • 2. thalya  |  December 28, 2007 at 2:04 am

    she looks like she’s doing brilliantly, I’m so glad things are going so well. YOu sound utterly blissed out!

    Reply
  • 3. Maria  |  December 28, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    What a beautifully touching post. The portion about your husband talking to your daughter almost brought me to tears. I’m an adult adoptee as well so it is particularly sweet to me. You have a beautiful daughter. We hope to travel to Kyrgyzstan this year for our daughter.

    Reply
  • 4. Suzanne  |  December 29, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Yeah. All that.

    Your whole family sounds just great. Can’t wait to meet you all…next month?

    -Suzanne

    Reply
  • 5. reunionwritings  |  January 1, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Both your girls are beautiful, you’re very lucky Tina. Your husband sounds really nice too. Reading this made me feel validated, thank you.

    Reply
  • 6. elsny  |  February 12, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    What a lovely post. Your family sounds beautiful.

    Parenting is always such trial and error. Living in the moment while learning from the past and preparing for the future. And so much fun!

    Reply
  • 7. andrea  |  December 19, 2010 at 1:19 am

    I realize that this post is years old but I wanted to thank you for your beautiful words! We are looking into adoption in Kyrgyzstan & I found your blog searching on google. I am so overwhelmed and we haven’t even hardly begun! I know this will all be worth it when I see your sweet daughter & read this sweet post. I wish I could talk to you and find out all the details I wish I knew!

    Reply

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