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Adopting a Waiting Child in Guatemala
Our experience with our first adoption was so perfect that we couldn’t wait to do it again. We decided to adopt another infant girl from Guatemala, and we knew our second child would be just as much of a blessing as our first. We applied and were waiting as we moved up the baby girl list
|Finding a Waiting Child|
When we were number three on the list, I received an email from an agency that happened to place children out of the same orphanage we were adopting from. I’m not even sure to this day why or how I got that email since we were not signed up with this agency, but I am confident that everything happens for a reason. As I began to scroll down the email that was titled “Available Children in Guatemala”, I saw the many faces of beautiful baby boys and girls and was in awe of how precious they all were. Then all of a sudden I saw her… a little girl with the biggest smile I had ever seen, twinkling eyes, and a head full of curls. It hit me hard. I knew in my heart that I was looking at MY daughter for the very first time.
| It didn’t make sense to me I’ll have to admit. This wasn’t the newborn baby girl that I had imagined. She wasn’t wrapped in a blanket with a bow in her hair; she was 3 years old with a full head of hair and a gleam in her eye that told me she had a personality of her own. How could this be? After a few hours of questioning my sanity and trying to bargain with God himself, I approached my husband with her picture. Yes, he thought she was adorable, but he too questioned my sanity, and also reminded me that we were not able to accept any referral yet. We needed to wait for our tax return to come so that we had the money to begin the process. It just wasn’t the right time.|
| Hours passed and still I couldn’t get this little girl out of my head. Did I even want to adopt a 3 year old? Didn't I realize she would be closer to 4 when she finally came home? How would that work in our family? How would I handle the language? Was I capable of handling this? The questions kept coming, the doubts, and the many, many fears. Then I realized that if I, a 37 year old adult was afraid, what must this precious little of girl of just 3 feel? How afraid must she be? She was alone in the world, her birthmother whom she had loved for 3 years had just left her in an orphanage full of strangers, and she had no one and nothing of her own. How could I be afraid? I had a home, a husband, a family who loved me, and would support me no matter what.|
| With this thought, I found myself picking up the phone and calling the agency to inquire about the 3 year old girl with the big curly hair whose picture I had seen on the "Available Children’s" list. The agency told me that yes she was in their care, but they thought another family was already considering her. When I hung up the phone, I knew in my heart they would be calling me back. Less than 2 hours later the phone rang, and I was right. The other family decided that she was ‘too old’ since they wanted a little girl under two. Since we were paper ready, she could be ours if we were still interested.|
| Again I began to pray and question. I pleaded with the Lord to please let me know if I was doing the right thing and to somehow make it VERY obvious what His plans were for that little girl and for our family. That afternoon when my husband came in from getting the mail, he had a funny look on his face, and he asked me to sit down. “The little girl in the picture," he began, “I think you're right, she was meant to be ours”. You see, the tax return money that we had been waiting for- the one that wasn’t ‘supposed’ to come for another 4 weeks- came. It was in the mailbox that very day. The very day we saw our daughter for the first time, the money came. God did answer my prayer and he made it very obvious that she was meant to be ours.|
| I called the agency and started the process. We received very little information on her past. We were told that there was no known abuse, that she was healthy (although small and mildly malnourished), and a very happy little girl. They said she had lived with her birth mother until she was brought to the orphanage. Her birthmother said she could no longer afford to take care of her and left showing no emotions. Two weeks later we saw her picture. |
|Meeting the Birthmother|
When we went to pick Mya up, we asked to meet her birthmother. She agreed to meet us, but as the time neared, I became very nervous. I think I was a little worried about Mya’s birthmother not liking me, but most of all, I worried about not liking her and having to live the rest of my life acting like I did for Mya's sake. I fundamentally did not know how someone could keep their child for 3 years and then just walk away with no emotion.
| When we met her birth mother and grandmother, we found out Mya had an older brother and sister, ages 7 and 9, but to our surprise, she also had a 2 year old little sister which the mother was keeping. When I asked the mother why she chose Mya (especially out of the middle), she said she was always sick, but that she knew she was "loveable". I asked her how she was sick, and she replied that she always has a cold.|
| I am very thankful to have met Mya’s birthmom because I ended up having peace with her and her decision. I know that sounds funny, but for us living here in America where we have everything, it is hard to understand how someone could “give up” a child. After meeting Mya's birthmother and grandmother, I realized that they really did love her, and using their words "only wanted her to be happy". The birthmother cried and said that she was afraid that one day Mya would hate her.|
| I know now that no matter what you cannot pretend to understand someone else's life or choices until you have fully walked in their shoes. I will never be able to understand what it is like to live on less than $1.00 a day, or to watch my child being constantly sick (if only with a cold) and not be able to give them the things they need. Mya's birthmother and grandmother showed a lot of emotion that day and told me that we were exactly what they had prayed for for Mya. I volunteered to send them pictures and updates yearly on Mya's birthday. They were thrilled about that. They did not ask us for anything, just that we love their little girl.|
|The Transition Home|
The transition home with a 4 year old was somewhat different than our experience when we brought home our 6 months old, but not in a bad way. While Mya had been told we were her new mama and papa, there was still a lot of trust to be built. She did call us mama and papa right away and came right to us, let us hold and hug her, but for a while it seemed that she was trying to be on her best behavior, which I think is very common with an older child. Once she felt more secure she started to act more like a normal 4 year old- taking a toy from a sibling or even saying "no" to eating her vegetables. I think what she really wanted was for us to be her 'real' parents in every way and that included discipline.
|For the first three weeks or so she would go to ANYONE and let ANYONE hold her, often using baby talk. I gently explained to her that we were her parents now forever and ever, and that if she wanted to be held or needed something, WE were the ones she needed to ask. We were the ones who would take care of her and keep her safe. She almost seemed relieved and after that moment she stopped asking strangers to hold her, and now just holds my hand and smiles at them if they approach.|
|Mya's health has been perfect. We had every test redone on her when we got back to the states, and she was absolutely perfect. As a matter of fact, even her teeth are in great shape! Our pediatrician told us he was very impressed at how healthy she was. She has put on weight and is a very healthy eater.|
|The language barrier that I was so afraid of has not been an issue at all. She is patient with us. She corrects us when we mispronounce a word in Spanish (not that I know that many!) and is eager to learn new words and phrases in English herself. She may not always know what I am saying to her, but she is smart and she learns fast… and she knows that my voice is gentle and kind and full of love- so she trusts.|
|Don't Be Afaid to Adopt an Older Child|
Actually, we have not seen any behavior problems that are not 'normal' for a child her age. People are often afraid of adopting an older child because of the unknown, but there are just as many 'unknowns' with an infant. And if you are looking for the perfect child, there is no such thing.
| What I do know is that watching Mya experience new things in life has been such a blessing to us. She appreciates everything and is so full of love and life! We took her to the Burger King play land the other day for the first time, and she was so excited you would have thought is was Disney Land. She kept saying "Thank you mama" over and over again.|
| Mya Sofia is funny, creative, sweet, loving, and most of all, she fits into our family as if she had been there her whole life. I could not have hand picked a more perfect child, and I am still in awe that God allowed me to be this precious little girl's mother. It has been such an amazing experience for me to see life through her eyes. She has shown us how to appreciate again the many things that we take for granted . Yes, there are days when I look at her and feel sad on what I missed out on… the almost 4 years of her life that I didn’t get to experience. Yet then I think of how close I came to missing out on the rest of her precious life, and I am so thankful for the years we have yet to come.|
| Last night when I tucked Mya into bed she looked up at me with those big black eyes and said ‘Love you mama’, obviously so proud of her new English words. We are so blessed by this brave and amazing little girl and so thankful that we stepped out in faith and accepted the blessings God had in mind for our family.|