I've also said that I'm not naive enough to think that this adoption will be a wonderful transition, that Sara will love to come home with us because she understands what it means to leave her foster family of seven years, what it means to get in a car with very American-looking strangers she can't understand and go sleep in a hotel room with them and tour around her city with them, and then say good bye to that city, that language, that culture, get on an airplane for the first time, watch her home disappear beneath clouds, and be greeted at the airport by more strange-looking American people who want to touch and hug and shake hands. And then to start a new life. At the age of eleven. I remember eleven. I felt pretty grown-up. Like I had a pretty good handle on things. Nobody had to come take me out of my world and set me down somewhere where everything felt wrong-side out. I was born into a family and had love and trust and bonding and from the very beginning, I knew my place. I don't know how much of this Sara has felt.
So when I say my biggest concern is that I can know how to be a good parent for her, I mean I know my parenting skills with my four biological children will give me a foundation for who I need to be for Sara. Each of my biological children are very different, were different as infants, toddlers, kids, teens. Each of them needed different things from me as much as they needed me to be constant, consistent. And with Sara, I'll need to be different, and the same. And going in knowing what to expect, knowing the possible challenges and joys, is why I've been reading and searching for all outcomes.
In my search I found this haunting and beautiful analogy of what it can mean to be an orphan: "Imagine" on The Bergey Bunch blog.
I've come across many adoption blogs about infant/toddler adoptions, generally fun, and many on older "aging out" teen adoptions, generally unnerving but encouraging, but not very many on 10-11 year old adoptions. It is such a time of limbo, between childhood and the teenage years. The "Tweens." Our youngest daughter is 11 and depending on the day (and looking at clothes has a lot to do with this, I've noticed) she either doesn't "want to grow up ever" and "hates growing up" or wishes she were "older" and "cant wait to" do stuff. I laugh. She mostly laughs. Sometimes she cries. I remember. It's tough. But it's also very sweet and fleeting.
So as I read the posts about older teen adoption (13-14) and younger, I try to place a 10 year old girl with a possible 3rd grade, maybe 2nd grade education, who doesn't speak English, and has not been taught the same way I have taught or have been taught, try to place her in my heart, in my sympathies, in my resolution, in my toughness and my tenderness. I try to expect whatever she comes with, which may be very unexpected. Just as my other kids came with whatever they came with, and we took them and loved them and dealt with it and rejoiced in it. And just like Chelsea, Braeden, Jacob, and Maren, Sara will be different, and need differently. And need the same.
I pray a lot.
Ni shi bao bei.
You are so precious.