So today we took our first step. Like many to come, it wasn’t easy.
We had to decide on the criteria for the child. It prompted Dennis and I to have a hard and honest discussion about many thing, including our limits.
Adoption/fostering has become all that we now discuss — whether in the morning as we are getting our kids ready or during dinner when we imagine what it might be like to have one more kid at the table. We’ve already gone back and forth on the age and sex of the child (though I’ve since learned that the “muharam” rule limits us to adopting a girl — a separate post). Whereas before we had the luxury of vaguely defining our vision for our new family, today we had to close the conversation that we long found comfort in leaving open.
I think it goes without saying that many people want newborns — because they are easier. While newborns may come with the trauma of being separated from their moms (… not may come — WILL come), they likely won’t have the same degree of trauma that a toddler or an older child likely would have. For this reason newborns are easily adopted — in fact, there’s a long waiting list for them in Jordan. So we crossed newborns off our list.
Ok, whats next? Toddler or an “older child” as they are called. An older child is any child above 3, which would be older than our oldest daughter -Aya. We weren’t sure to be honest. There are many considerations. Birth order for example. Will having a child older than Aya disrupt the flow? Aya is, after all, quite the Alpha type. And attachment. Will an older child attach to us? Including my husband who’s not only a man but also an American who looks and speaks differently. Dennis shows Aya a lot of affection and we didn’t want the child’s age to inhibit the development of the same bond between him and our adopted daughter.
That said, we know that kids up to two years old, who might still nurse, are in high demand. As noted in a prior post, breastfeeding carries a great deal of significance locally (for one, the “muharam” rule is no longer an issue). So that shaped our thinking.
And then what about medical and mental health issues? Here too we knew that we had to give clear “yes” and “no” responses. This part was certainly the most painful. We felt (feel) guilty about setting any limitations based on our own. We have two kids already — a serious medical or developmental issue could fundamentally change the dynamic of our family and our ability to devote adequate attention to Aya and Joud. Not to mention we both feel wildly ill-equipped to provide any type of specialized care. We both work and travel frequently. While this seemed clear, making a deliberate decision to exclude children with certain attributes felt wrong, even so as to undermine the very reasons why we are pursuing adoption in the first place. It is an awkward position of privilege that all who choose to adopt must confront.
So we narrowed it down to a toddler, somewhere between ages 2 and 3 — A child that is likely to be somewhere between Aya and Joud. We’re okay with minor medical issues. Saying no to developmental ones was the hardest part. But as a friend told us – its wise to know your limitations.