Today we went on a tour to the Great Wall of China with six families who have arrived to meet their children. They were excited and scared - I remember that combination!
It's funny to be considered someone who knows much of anything after only six days of hit-or-miss parenting choices, but I tried to share what I wish I had known last Saturday:
- Don't expect your child's development to match his chronological age. Quinn was 16 months old when we picked him up, but in many ways he's still a tiny baby. He couldn't push himself from a laying position to sitting up, couldn't pull himself up and needed us to do everything for him.
- The personality of the child you meet is not necessarily your child's personality. Quinn was so out of it when we met him, to the point that we were quite terrified. What I've learned from all of you is that these guys are going through so much change that they need something to hold onto that they can control. For Quinn, it was eye contact and reverting to bottle feeding only (we're told he ate quite well at the orphanage).
- Don't worry - at least not yet. Quinn showed so many alarming signs when we met him. A week later, they're mostly history.
- Just because your child did something in the orphanage doesn't mean he'll do it for you - at least not yet. Don't compare the child you see in person to the child you saw in his or her paperwork.
- Don't worry about those developmental milestones. I purposely decided to steer clear of the "What to Expect" books until I had Quinn home and adjusted. I'm so glad I did. To me he is a wonderful, funny, brilliant 17-month-old baby. What I don't know right now is definitely not hurting either one of us.
- Bond in whatever way your child is willing. Look for the signs and respond. Quinn is particularly open to us when he wakes up in the morning and after his nap. So we make sure our plans allow plenty of time for snuggles and hugs when he gets up.