So I was sitting at home Monday morning doing something terribly productive while Annelise was at school.
I was watching a DVRd Oprah show from last week. I know.
It was the one about a severely neglected girl from Florida. Her name is Danielle and she was 6 years old when she was removed from her birth mother's home, yet she had the behavior of an infant. Thankfully she has been adopted and is in what seems to be a stable, loving environment. But oh my goodness, she has a long road ahead of her, and so does her family. Did anyone see that show?
I soon found myself almost in tears (and those of y'all that know me know this doesn't happen often) thinking about her circumstances and those of other children in similar situations, whether infants or older children. A few thoughts came quickly to the forefront of my brain.
I must first say how thankful I am that God led us to Annelise when she was still a baby. Even though she was 13 months old when we met her, and 14 months when we brought her home, she was still very much a baby. While we missed out on many of her firsts, we did get to experience plenty. God's plan for us adopting a slightly older baby (which was of course different than what Scott and I thought we wanted) worked out perfectly.
What hit home for me was when they described some of Danielle's behaviors, which were some of the same behaviors we experienced when we first met Annelise in Moscow. Nadezhda (Annelise's name at birth, she was nicknamed Nadya) was born in a maternity hospital then moved to Orphanage 14 when she was 3 months old. From what we saw and were told, they took very good care of the children there. The director, staff and nurses seemed to truly care about the children. But still. I know she spent much of her time in a crib or play pen with only occasional adult interaction. One nurse in particular paid Nadya extra attention, which was a comfort to us. Nadya was withdrawn at first, very shy. With plenty of coaxing, playing and focused attention she quickly adjusted to us. We dealt with crying fits at meal time, even if we just set her cup of milk down for a minute. It took her a while to learn there was plenty of food. Too many toys were overwhelming to her. She had to learn to be held. She rocked herself if she was still for a few minutes as a form of stimulation. She also rocked herself to sleep, often violent rocking. She didn't cry when we put her down or left the room (at least in the beginning), she was used to that.
All of those behaviors went away with time, some faster than others. Although she is now 5 1/2, she will still rock herself to sleep occasionally. If you met her you would never guess she had been withdrawn or hesitant for even a second. She thrives on social interaction, a regular social butterfly. I am truly thankful that there were no developmental delays or long term behavioral effects.
It seems watching this episode of Oprah has also brought up my not-so-deeply-buried thoughts of "What's next?" for our family. Annelise has made it abundantly clear she wants a brother or a sister. We would like for her to have one too.
At least I think we do.
Let's face it, having one child is easier and cheaper. Raising an only child definitely has its perks and its pits. Occasionally Scott and I have The Conversation. Annelise is 5 1/2, do we really want to start over? I don't feel like IVF is something we will attempt again. However, I do believe that God has the power to overcome our fertility issues, if that is His plan. I must admit that there is still an empty place inside my heart having not experienced a pregnancy. Adopting Annelise soothed those feelings, but did not fully take them away. Do we want to adopt again? Do we want to adopt domestically (although I fear we'd be judged as too old for an infant) or internationally? Russia again or China? Do we want to adopt an older child? While I know there is a huge need for that, there is a huge fear about developmental and behavioral issues that might come with adopting an older child. What would either addition do to our family dynamic? If I'm completely honest, I have selfish concerns too.
So, um...yeah...I think about it.
What I need to do is pray about it, that God will reveal His plan for our family and we will be open to opportunities He places before us.
"For I know the plans I have for you, "declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11