Almost two weeks ago, I received new pictures of our daughter, and proceeded to show them to pretty much everyone I work with, as I am very proud of my beautiful little girl, and when you only possess eight pictures total, you are inclined to share literally every single one you have. I also e-mailed them to my mom and Blake's mom figuring they would disperse them to other family members.
Somehow there was a breakdown in this plan as I found out this morning that my dad hadn't seen them yet, and he wanted to know why they weren't on my blog (as he is a very faithful reader).
Honestly, the main reason that I didn't post these earlier is that when I received these pictures, I thought that I was going to be receiving more in the very short future, and then I would have more of a luxury of choosing which of them to post on the blog. Even as time went on, and it looked like the other pictures were not going to be showing up as quickly, I kept waiting because I could wait "just one more day."
But I do have more to say about our daughter, and I know there are people who I don't see in real life, who do read my blog, and for them, and for posterity, here are a few more pictures of our beautiful girl.
Most parents, having the luxury of their child with them, look at photos of their child as a way to remember the cute dress or a fun memory.
When you still haven't met your child yet, you appreciate seeing her and her cute faces, but you also use the few photos you have to detect clues about your child.
From our pictures, we noticed that she has pierced ears. Blake is excited, I am on the fence about it. They are cute, they do make her look more feminine, and they are obviously a big cultural thing (if even a baby in an orphanage gets them). If entirely up to me, I probably wouldn't have let her get them pierced until she was older, but now that it is already done, it's not a big deal. At the same time, I am not super thrilled about having to keep her in earrings, keep track of her earrings, make sure she doesn't eat her earrings etc. I suppose I could take them out, and let her ears close, but as Blake likes them, it is apparently a cultural thing and it was something I was going to let her do someday anyways, we are going to keep them in.
We also have observed how inquisitive she seems from the pictures, looking around, and trying to look at everything around her. Without more information, we (proud parents that we are) conclude that she seems to have normal intelligence. :-) Can you tell that just from pictures... probably not... but hey, that's all we have.
She does have teeth. Cute little tiny teeth (seen clearly in the second picture and just barely showing in the third picture). So we can anticipate the fun of teething, and have a nice confirmation of her approximate age.
But the biggest thing that has happened lately with her is that she has moved in our heads from the abstract to concrete. We know now that when we travel to Ghana (hopefully, prayerfully, miraculously the week after Thanksgiving but possibly later) we will get to have her with us for the week we are there. I am super excited, Blake is a bit apprehensive, but we both feel like it makes the whole prospect of parenting more real.
We have to get supplies for that week. So when we were at CVS last week on another errand, I decided we could just stop by the baby row, and pick up some of the needed supplies. I walked to that row... looked around... and lost my nerve and walked back to where Blake was in the store. Something freaked me out about really buying things for her, not just fun items (like books, clothes, hair things, I got those without any trepidation) but the necessary ones. That step was like really believing that I have a little girl who will be needing those items, and soon. Like this is really happening. It just, I don't know, got real.
I got back to Blake and he asked why I didn't get anything. I told him how it intimidated me, and sweet guy that he is, walked back with me, and just started grabbing items. We didn't get a ton that day, but we did get a few items. It still felt weird buying baby items when we don't have a baby at home yet, but I kept telling myself that we have a right to buy them, because we ARE parents.
The other way that it got real recently is with my researching. If you know me well, you know that I approach life like a college student. Every somewhat significant life event is like a class that a portion of my brain feels the need to study for to feel equipped to handle it.
Before Roxie, I read copious amount about dogs, dog care, and dog training. When we learned about getting Tasha, I prepared by reading about huskies. Before our kittens, I read about caring for kittens and cats and the supplies needed. Even before our camping trip, I read about cold weather camping.
You get the picture. Knowledge/ research is my shield that equips me to feel prepared for new situations and things out of my comfort zone.
A few years ago, when we decided to adopt, I read a lot of books about adoption, and caring for an adopted child, connecting with them and helping them understand the loss that is a portion of their life story. After choosing Ghana and starting that portion of the process, I started reading about transracial adoptions, raising a black child, multicultural families, and about the country and culture of Ghana itself. When we found out that we were referred a girl, I started reading about African hair, and researching how to keep it healthy, and clean and braid it.
Do you notice a huge gap in my research? I didn't, until recently. I don't know why, but it just hit me a few weeks ago (I know, sad) that more than an "adopted child," more than a "black child," more than a "black girl," we will be raising a child. I never read about how to care for a 1 year old, what to expect of a toddler, how to do the nitty gritty day to day parenting stuff!
Blake laughs at me, because most people don't approach life like a college student, and I am sure that a person could just be thrown into parenting without ever picking up a book and doing just fine. But me? I always research stuff before I do it (I even researched about mud runs before going!), and to leave out such a HUGE area of research really made me concerned about myself.
I think I figured it out though, and it goes back to the title of this blog, and really most of the things above too- I am having to go from abstract to concrete, and it scares me. All of the other topics were "safe" where they would be helpful no matter who our child is, and if something fell apart, it would still apply. Starting to learn about a one year old, buying items for her specifically, these things mean that I am putting myself out there that we aren't just adopting A child, we are adopting our little one year old girl whose smiling, inquisitive face is featured in the pictures above, and soon we will be taking care of her, since she is already ours.
I have now gotten a small collection of books from the library on this very topic, and am already feeling more prepared both for our week of caring for her, and for when she gets home and we care for her full time.
It is a good thing for it to feel real, and truly, I want to let go of my fears that she is an illusion, a mirage, or a beautiful dream that I could possibly have to wake up from someday. I hope my week with her will cure that, but I think it won't be resolved until she is home, and even then, I wouldn't be surprised if there are days when I look at her, while she is playing, sleeping or just sitting next to me, and wonder, even then, if she is really there, and really ours. I hope and pray that day is soon.