Sarah, a WACAP mom, writes about the special meaning of the phrase, “It’s time,” for families that, in her words, are “blessed by adoption.” Most recently welcoming home three children from Taiwan, she thinks back on the experience of becoming a “new” parent once the day finally came, and considers the process parents go through of loving their children more every day, along with learning how …
“It’s time!” These were the words that my sister uttered when she called to tell me her third child was on the way. They are the words commonly spoken when the birth of a child is coming, a new life will join a family. To me, however, they have a different meaning. I have never said these words with regard to the birth of a child, as none of my seven children have come to me in that way.
I think of the words “It’s time!” when I think of the days when we finally went to Taiwan to pick up our three adopted children, after almost 2 years of waiting. I think of those words when I think of them coming home for the first time. For those of us who have, and are blessed by adoption, it is just as memorable and poignant to think of these first experiences with the new addition to our family. In our case, we waited 21 long months, wading through mounds of paperwork, waiting and hoping that each form was completed correctly, and each delay would end as soon as possible. The phrase “It’s time,” when it refers to adoption, can mean a long wait, many months of hoping, and a lot of effort to bring that child (or children) home!
When the time comes to bring that adopted child home, in many ways it is like a new parent bringing a baby home from the hospital … but it’s only the beginning! I felt like I experienced all of the new parent “firsts” – children up all hours of the night (coming from the other side of the planet, that ‘time change thing’ is real), tears and tantrums, trying to get them to eat new foods, and learning to love them more each day.
As our children were older (ages 5, 8, and 9 when they came home), two girls and a boy, we also had the added challenges of teaching them a new language. In Taiwan, they spoke Mandarin and very little English. There is also the emotional part that always accompanies adopting older children; the letting go of an old life and embracing a new one, with new people, a new home, and new experiences. Our three children came from an orphanage and are learning about having parents and life in a family.
Someone put it very well, I think, when they said that adopting older children is like an arranged marriage, you learn to fall in love with each other. It was that way for our three children. I had started loving them through the long process of adoption, but they were not so sure about me. They warmed up to my husband faster, but took longer to like their new mother.
There have been many moments of challenge, but almost a year and a half later, I see that those challenges hollowed out a place in my heart, to be filled with the joy! When my son, who would not even get too close to me in the first months home, ran up and gave me a hug the other day, my heart melted. It still amazes me when he sits on my lap or allows me to hug and kiss him. I hope I always remember the hard road so that the joys that come can be appreciated all the more.
I remember the heartache of my older daughter, up at 1 a.m. in the morning in those first days, crying to return to her former home. My tears matched hers as I did not have the words to explain that this was better: that a family is better than life in an orphanage, and that things would get better.
When our family celebrated our one year date of coming home, this same daughter wrote on our family message board, “This is are 1 year home we are happy.” This daughter finds more joy every day with her new family, as she opens up to new experiences. Our youngest daughter, who took the longest to learn English, now uses her words to tell us every day “I love you Mommy!” “I love you Daddy!” and write little notes with hearts to us. She still has a hard time understanding what we want her to do, and requires a lot of patience some days, but her enthusiastic expressions of love help bind us together through the difficult moments.
Every day, of course, has its challenges. We still spend time getting to know each other and learning to love each other’s quirks, but each day we also laugh more and find more joy as we come together as a family.
So to those of you who are waiting to decide if adoption is right for you, I would say “It’s time!”
It’s time to experience the challenges and the joys of adoption. If you persevere through the challenges and the tears, the joys will come! These joys will be made all the sweeter because of the work that came before.
If you have questions about adopting from Taiwan, WACAP’s staff would love to talk with you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.