Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hard-ish Things: Nicolas

The moment I fell in love with Nic is so clear in my mind. I have not experienced "love at first sight" with either of my boys. Don't get me wrong - I loved them in the truest sense of the word - but I didn't feel all mushy about them right away. For me, those feelings take time; bonding takes time. During our trip to DRC to pick Nic up, he easily won the "easiest baby in the world" prize. I can't lie, that made him very nice to spend time with, and since I was fairly well-rested I had plenty of energy to focus on bonding and feeling affectionate. I spent about a week in that weird "I know this is my kid but it doesn't feel like it yet" place. During that period we moved into my (beloved) dorm room, and were squashed together in a twin bed. One night it rained and actually got a bit cool, so I pulled him onto my chest to sleep. That morning we woke up rather early, and the sunlight was filtering through the trees in that way that makes everything glow. I was watching Nic that morning as he slowly opened his big eyes and lifted his head up to look around. When his eyes met mine he smiled. That was it. I was smitten.

One of the reasons bonding to Nic was so easy was that he was such a sweet baby and while he had some "orphanage" issues, they weren't that severe. His orphanage was actually a small group home with only a dozen kids, and only two of those were babies (one being Nic), so it was not your typical large institution. I am positive that Nic got a decent amount of calories each day, even if most of them came from starch, and that he got some medical care. He was held often, and did not suffer from any touch or other sensory issues. It was obvious that all of his needs were not met on demand, as he really went to town with his formula once he realized that I would give it to him every time he indicated he was hungry, and in those first weeks he ate far more than he needed to. He also rarely expressed displeasure - another sign that he had withdrawn a bit from being ignored. In the first few months I was worried that his eager to please attitude might translate into an attachment issue, but instead we have experienced the joy of watching our quiet little fellow blossom.

As time has gone by Nicolas has become increasingly vocal in expressing his desires and his disappointments. He cries when he has to do things he doesn't like, and is very good at demonstrating his preferences. Although he is not using many words, he knows how to point to things he wants, and he uses his "more" sign like a champ. He is becoming increasingly animated and adventurous in situations that are unfamiliar (he's been like that at home for some time now), and watching him learn to interact with a wider range of people is great fun. He has also become increasingly affectionate. He has always liked a hug or a kiss, but now he will frequently demand them. He likes to have kiss marathons - he will run up to you and kiss and kiss and kiss until you are all covered in his slobber. It melts our hearts.

All that to say, Nicolas' transition in terms of orphanage issues and attachment just hasn't been very hard. Now, that isn't to say that Nic's adoption was a breeze. Some adoptions are easier than others, but adoption is in it's nature messy and complicated and hard. You can't escape it. You want to know something that is hard? Coming home to find out the child you love has a probable life-expectancy of forty years, and finding out that many of those years will be spent in pain. Learning that your child will have restrictions, and need to take medication, and probably have a disrupted education. That was hard. We've adjusted to our new normal, I think. It's hard to say since Nic hasn't actually had a sickle crisis yet, and there is a tiny little chance that all of the above horror may be reversed if his next round of blood work comes back the way we hope and pray it will. We are absolutely clinging to that shred of hope, but we also know that it is more likely that he not only has sickle cell disease, he has the worst kind (SS). That is what has been hard with Nicolas.

The other thing that was difficult about Nicolas' adoption was the process. With Tommy we waited ages for a referral, but once we had his name and his info we only waited two weeks to get on a plane. With Nic we had to wait first for his adoption to go through the court system in his commune, then for an embassy appointment, and then we traveled. We received his information in October, but didn't meet him until March. That wait (while not very long by many country's timelines) felt endless. It was so much harder to wait this time around, and much more emotionally taxing. The trip was also not exactly a luxury vacation...but you've seen the spiders so I probably don't need to elaborate on that point.

1 comment:

Chelsea Lee said...

Moment I knew I loved Amy: when I was 8 and she was baby-sitting me, we were watching Newsies and she let me jump on my parents' bed while I 'danced' along to the music.