While in Malaysia for a meeting a few weeks ago I got an email from my husband–they were permitting us to foster Big Z, the nearly 2-year-old boy we are hoping to adopt!
So I arrived home after midnight early on a Monday, and twelve hours later we were headed to the orphanage for pick-up.
That was an even shorter “pregnancy” than China Surprise’s, which was discovered at 21 weeks gestation shortly after we arrived here in China.
Armed with an overstuffed diaper bag (for the 45 minute ride home) we met the caregivers who had a tearful goodbye with their little guy.
I was glad I brought shoes for him, as they were not included (again).
So now we are 3.5 weeks into this foster-to-adopt (hopefully) experience, with a fifth child who is as emotionally needy as a newborn but with the developmental capacity to leave a wake of destruction in his path.
In the US I spent quite a few years counseling adoptive families, reviewing medical files with them, and describing how to proactively address attachment, developmental gaps and institutional behaviors, but living through it myself is a fascinating experience.
Our social worker told us that regardless of the age of the child when they come to your family, they can be expected to go through all the developmental stages from the newborn period and on, but perhaps at warp speed.
I am noting that he is going through 2 month old, 9 month old, and 15 month old developmental things simultaneously, and learning new tasks at an amazing speed.
Having had a few biological kids already, it’s just amazing to see how although he can almost walk, and say “mama baba” and wave goodbye, yet he wants to be held nearly as much as you hold your newborn the first weeks, and making that same deep silent eye contact.
Yesterday while in the Ergo carrier he reached up and spontaneously touched my face for the first time.
It was so sweet.
And the next minute he is learning in five minutes how to turn the water on and off in the kitchen and washing his hands endlessly and throwing a fit when we finally leave the sink, soaking wet.
The reactions from our neighbors and strangers are always amusing, of course.
I have to gauge whether I only want to listen to peoples’ comments (and not say anything so they think I don’t speak Chinese) or if I have time to engage in a conversation.
Like at the red stoplight at the corner, a man looks our little guy over, and looks me over.
“He doesn’t really look like you.”
“Oh, really, you don’t think so?”
As I laugh to myself and cross the street without any more explanation.
I have noticed that in public most people will not keep silent if they are curious about something.
But I have to tease them a little.