When Remy first came home, she was just over a year, a little less than 13 months. I remember thinking, somewhere over the Atlantic, about when she would have been with us half her life. We’ve crossed that mark now, with little fanfare, but with much significance.
This year has been challenging in unimagined ways. The transition to two kids in general was tough, though maybe not quite as difficult as I had thought. Before Elijah was born, an acquaintance had remarked that the transition to having one child was much harder than to two-as a parent, you were already so used to putting someone else’s needs and wants first. The transformation in identity from being a singular person to being a parent, a caretaker, a protector had already taken place.
The sibling jealousy (especially for Elijah), the lessening of already slim personal time, and just the general logistical issues of having a bigger family (combined with an unexpected diagnosis and chronic illness) obviously took its toll. But I want to stop here with the difficulties and the frustrations and focus on what is really important.
Our daughter is home. We missed out on her first year, a little more. We have, hopefully, a long lifetime with her.
There were very dark hours, literally, when I would awaken for weeks at 4 a.m. and refresh my email over and over in the hopes of hearing something from the U.S. embassy. The final leg of the process of bringing Remy home took so much more time, patience, faith than we had planned for. And we were one of the lucky ones. I look to my fellow adoptive parent warriors who traversed the ocean to Ethiopia a few times more than originally planned, who contacted congressmen, who did everything within their power-and beyond-to bring home their babies. And I am calling them “babies”, because when they came to us, regardless of their age, they were new to us, like infants. We are the ones fortunate enough to be able to create the bedtime routines, to sing the songs, to give the hugs and kisses that all babies deserve and need.
Undoubtedly, and by definition, there is loss involved in every adoption. Loss of a birth family, loss (at least to some extent) of a native culture, loss of language. But right now, I will not focus on loss. Our Remy Roo is a ray of sunshine. I watch daily as she pounds on her keyboard, swaying to the music that she instinctively creates. I giggle as she “reads” aloud to herself in an expressive jargon and gesticulates wildly to emphasize her points. My heart fills as she cuddles up under her blankies at night and we sing the Shema to her, a ritual she loves.
Her day is full of reminders of the joy she carries inherently in her being. She usually wakes before Elijah and calls out sweetly, “Mama!” then bounces up and down when I open the door. She claps and cheers for herself when she pees on the potty. She chases Harvey around the house, always ready to love and hug him (even if sometimes a little too roughly). She is quick to laugh, and she shares readily. She is fiercely independent and has a firecracker spirit.
From 1 year old to 2, there are these amazing, “can you even believe this is the same child as a few weeks ago” transitions. Mind-boggling ones. We brought home a crawler and suddenly, she’s a little speed demon, running after her brother, laughing all the while. While Remy’s speech is slightly delayed, she still amazes us with her ability to understand, communicate, and to empathize with others. We missed the first year with its many milestones, but at this time of almost Thanksgiving, there is so much to be thankful for. There is so much growth that we have been able to witness, to mark down in photo albums and life books and even to make mental notes of and then (if I am to be honest) forget within months. Because there is so much to absorb, too much really. If I was writing it all down, I think I would be missing the actual living of it.
To all the parents waiting, I hope this period passes quickly and as painlessly as possible. I promise you this-your child will make you forget. And when your halfway mark goes by, I hope it goes quietly, folded into the rhythm of your busy lives and days. I hope you look back upon it with a shrug and the knowledge that there is so much more to come.