As adoptive parents, we accept that there will be a lot of missing puzzle pieces in our son or daughter’s early years. We know that the same questions we have our child will struggle with 100 times more. We spend many hours laying in bed preparing ourselves for the inevitable questions…trying to think of the best words to say when the time comes. Praying we handle things “right”. Praying for guidance. We think a lot about our children’s birth parents and previous care givers, and wish there was a way to let them know that the baby they love and think of daily is still loved, safe, and healthy. We wish that when we went to the pediatrician we had more history to give them vs a blank stare and a shrug. What happens when all of the sudden there is glimpse into your child’s lost years? That is exactly what has happened to me this weekend. I have found several videos of Bo’s early years. Best yet they were of the moments that every parent cherishes…the first steps! Maria’s Big House of Hope has promised to find me more! WHAT AN AMAZING GIFT! In the mean time I have scoured their blog during the time Bo (aka Julian) was there. Every time I see his beautiful baby face and electric smile, I burst into tears. Another puzzle piece slides into place! THANK YOU MBHOH!!!!http://showhope.org/julian/ As well as complete gratitude, I have felt like this gift has stirred something inside of me. I am feeling called….to what I am not sure yet. Perhaps it’s as simple as doing fundraising for MBHOH. Maybe it’s more. I don’t know yet. Perhaps it’s as simple as sharing this with all of you, and urge you to once again consider adoption. There are so many children that just need families to take the leap of faith and say YES! Part of the reason I have been so emotional this weekend is realizing that Bo had such great love and attention for a period of time, and then he was called back to the orphanage where he was one in 850 children. He sat there for more than 4 years….waiting….hoping…..longing to feel that kind of love again. It’s no wonder Bo doesn’t want to leave my side. Sigh…. Please consider adoption. Please. All these children want is love….the love of a family.
Today has been a tough day for several reasons. It was one of those days that you start to lose hope and faith. Then the day turned on a dime. Isn’t it amazing how that can happen? It all changed with a FaceBook message from my friend Renee Booe. She had told me that Show Hope contacted her a few weeks ago because of her posts of the pictures she took of “Gotcha Day” with Bo. They thought they may have cared for Bo at Maria’s Big House of Hope. She reached out to me at that time to get Bo’s Chinese name and DOB. We had no record that he had spent time at Maria’s Big House of Hope, so I really didn’t hold out that much hope.
Then late this afternoon Renee said she heard back from Show Hope, and to check my email. I opened my email, and there was a BEAUTIFUL email from Show Hope. The lady that emailed me, Cathy, said that they had indeed cared for Bo. When he was in their care, he went by the name of Julien. She said that he was very loved! That I can completely relate too. Bo is so darn loveable!!! She also said that knowing he now had a family would be of great comfort and celebration for his nannies. I sent her back an email thanking her and the staff for taking such extraordinary care of Bo. I have spent many days wondering how it was possible that Bo survived. With all of his scars, how did he find the will to live? Now I know! He knew love! He received great care! He was nursed back to health! He had hope in his heart because he knew love.
Oh did I mention they attached a picture? The first picture we have of our precious son. Are you ready for some cuteness?
As you can imagine, I quickly emailed them back thanking them! Of course I had to attach pictures of Bo now, so they can see his shining face again. Hopefully my email brings as much happiness to them as their email did to me!
Hope….what a beautiful thing! Thank you Show Hope! Thank you Maria’s Big House of Hope! Thank you!!
I feel compelled to tell you about the days following Carsten’s birth. These were the days that scotch tape truly didn’t hold me together. I was literally falling apart at my seams. I had tears, grief, sadness, and fear seeping out of me. I was paralyzed. I felt like I was living in a parallel universe. One where my realities were vastly different than everyone else’s. For months really, I lived in this space. I didn’t feel like I belonged in our world anymore, so I learned how to breath in my new space. Day by day I slowly started to reenter “reality”, but I could only survive in that space for short periods of time. It was like trying to breath under water. I couldn’t do it, so the most I could hope for was to hold my breath for as long as possible before I came back up to my world. Eventually my world morphed into the real world, but I vowed that I never wanted another new mom to feel the way I felt. I wanted to shine a light on my world to show everyone how beautiful it really was. I remember thinking, “If people only knew how awesome Carsten is, there would be a waiting list to get a baby with Down syndrome!” While society isn’t there yet, we are making progress. If this reaches one new mom or dad, and starts to shine light into their new world, I will be happy…not satisfied, but happy.
I have said it before that the biggest difference when you have a baby with Down syndrome is that you see all of the hurdles and struggles your baby will face for the rest of his life. I will give you that most of these hurdles never end up coming to life, but in the moment they are as real as you and I. During a “typical” child birth, they put your baby in your arms, and you start dreaming big. Your child will be the next president of the United States! No on looks at their newborn baby, turns to their husband and says, “Oh goodness dear, we have a high school drop out on our hands. He live with us until he is 32 years old.” It doesn’t happen!!! So when you are told your baby has Down syndrome, whether prenatally or after birth, all you see are dark looming shadows. Almost instantaneously you see the faceless silhouettes of the bullies you are sure you will have to beat down for calling your son the “r” word. You worry about his health. Who will be his friends? How will your other children handle “this”? What kind of job will he have? Will he graduate from high school? Is college even a possibility? Will I spend the rest of my life fighting people who have disrespected him? Will he drive? Will he ever know the love and pride of having his own family and wife? Will we ever function like a normal family ever again? Will I ever have a true conversation with him? How will I ever be able to financially support him? Will I know the pain and despair that comes from having to bury one of your own children?
Now I will grant you that most of my fears or perceived hurdles came out of sheer ignorance. Some of the questions above, I still don’t have the answers too. I just now realize how beautiful the unknown is. I appreciate living in the now. These fears and dark shadows don’t wake me up in the middle of the night anymore. Mostly I have Carsten himself to thank for that. I know that Carsten is exactly who he is meant to be. I know that whatever Carsten sets his mind to he will accomplish. I know now that people are drawn to him. He has an indescribable magnetism that draws good people in, and draws good things out of them. For those that allow themselves to be taken in by Carsten’s charms, they will never be the same person for it.
I also know that Carsten is a blessing to our family. He has never been nor will he ever be a burden. I am not sure what we did to deserve such a loving gift into our family, but I wouldn’t give Carsten’s extra chromosome back for a million dollars! If they came out with a “miracle cure” for Down syndrome tomorrow, I would politely refuse. I buried the Carsten I thought I was going to have long ago, and I never, never, never want to live my life without the Carsten that was given to me…..all 47 chromosomes of him!
I have often wondered if I could go back and change anything in my life, would I? No, I wouldn’t. I do wish that the me now could have followed those doctors into my hospital room on May 31, 2006. I would stand to the right of the 28 year old me clutching her new baby in her arms with fear spreading through her body. When the first doctor asked, “Has anyone expressed the concerns we have about your baby?” I would put my arm on my 28 year old self, smile at the doctor politely, and say,”Yes! Isn’t it wonderful?” After the next doctor rattled off the scary list of medical issues that may come, I would say, “Please leave. You are scaring this woman half to death. 90% of what you just said will never happen. This child is far more than what you can look up in you medical books. You are setting the bar for how this woman thinks everyone is going to treat her from here on out, and you are setting a bad example.” I would then follow that line of doctors right out of my hospital room. Before I left I would turn around and look at the scared, sobbing, sad 28 year old me. I would say with a reassuring smile, “You have a beautiful baby boy inside and out! Congratulations! Take him home, and love him. Girl, you got this! You so got this!” Maybe I would blow a kiss to MJ on the way out too.;)