Friday, October 5, 2012

How it's different this time

The third of five Eli posts, originally written on August 27th.

Last time, as soon as we were matched, I ordered up a big batch of every picture of Rose that came with her referral. We taped them up over the desk in the kitchen, partly because I wanted the kids to get used to looking at her cleft, but also because I was so excited I wanted to shout out her existence from the rooftops. And in my way, with my blog and facebook, I did just that. We added to that photo wall every time families from our Xuzhou Yahoo group visited the orphanage to adopt their kids and took pictures of the waiting children.

This time, I printed pictures of Eli, but I haven't put them up yet. I haven't made a public announcement on my blog, or on facebook, or even told my best girlfriends on the message board I've been on for more than ten years. If you know about it, it's because I needed something, like a reference letter, from you. Annie, in particular, is desperate to tell her friends, but I keep putting her off. "Tell them when our dossier goes to China, or better yet, when we have LOA," I say to her.

We set up the crib in the girls' room the weekend after our match, mostly because I wanted the room to represent Rose. We bought bedding, and gave Rose her own space, even though it would be almost six more months before she'd start living in it.

This time, I specifically told the boys that we wouldn't be moving them down to the basement until after Christmas. I can't start turning their upstairs bedroom into Eli's room until they're out of it.

I know all of this makes it sound like I'm not excited about the adoption, but I am. I can't wait to have Eli join our family. But it hasn't been long enough for me to forget how hard the wait was. It was agonizing to know that our daughter was waiting in China, receiving just enough care and attention to keep her going, when she could have been home with us. Last time, all of our paperwork was already in China when we were matched, and we waited six months from the time we first saw her face-- she grew from a five-month-old to an eleven-month-old. She didn't learn to roll, didn't learn to sit, didn't learn to crawl, didn't have her lip or palate closed-- all things that would have happened if she'd been home with us. I know that every "I" has to be dotted and every "T" has to be crossed, but that doesn't make the wait any easier.

This time, we decided to be matched with Eli before our paperwork was in China. We still need to get a pre-approval from USCIS in order to send our dossier to China, and in order to send our file to USCIS, we need to get background checks and home study updates and all that good stuff. We are working hard to get it done as quickly as possible, but chances are that we will wait nine months for Eli. He may be nineteen months instead of ten by the time he's in our arms.

This time, I know exactly how hard it is to wait. I know that when other families visit the orphanage, I'll feel a mix of delight and dread-- delight that I'll get to see his face, and dread that he's still lying on his back, dread that those four or five images are all I'll have to sustain me until the next time. I'll print them off,  put them on the wall, and examine every inch of them, just like I did with Rose.

Telling people opens us up to all kinds of scrutiny. You only brought home Rose five months ago, isn't it too soon? Are you going to be able to meet Eli's needs? Wow, six kids is a huge family! Do you think you'll be able to be there for your "own" kids when you've added two more? (btw, Rose and Eli are my "own" kids).

And once we tell people, it's fair game for them to want to talk to us about it. On the one hand, I'm excited to talk. But on the other hand, I usually have so little to report. I'll be waiting, not very patiently. We may get something in the mail and run to the notary to get it off for the next step, but mostly we're waiting, and our son is growing up without us.

So the pictures of Eli stay in their envelope, where I pull them out a couple of times a day, peek at them, and blow him a little kiss. I hope it reaches him, all the way in China.

1 comment:

Andrea R said...

I've been reading your Eli posts with awe and fascination. I can't imagine how hard it is to go what you're going through and I applaud you for opening your heart to another child. Blessings on your head. I can't wait to see you in December!