Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who wants to change all those diapers?

I have to laugh when I get on the APC yahoo board (for the uninitiated, that is Adoptive Parents China) and read that some adoptive parents in the process (pre-adoption - either gathering their dossier papers or are in the waiting process) are wanting assurances that the child they are referred from China is going to be no more than "x" months old (usually it is preferable that the child be under 12 months old). "Can anyone tell me what the average age of child China refers? We really want a child AYAP (as young as possible) between 4 - 8 months old." Or something to that effect.

I guess I am having a hard time understanding why they want a child that is so young. Is it because they feel the attachment will be... hmmmmm.... I am having trouble thinking up reasons why it would be of tantamount importance to have such a young child... perhaps they feel the attachment process will be more complete? More like a bio child's? Easier? So they can have more of a feeling of being the parent to a baby? Whatever... I can say I honestly don't get this... Anyone want to comment on this - I'd love to hear the reasons. I guess I'm just too stoopid to "get it".

When we went to China, it seemed the babies who initially had the worst time at first were the younger babies. Of course, a lot depends on temperament (some kids are better at adapting to changes than others, and being raised in an orphanage, it is probably a survival skill to be able to adapt and do whatever it takes to "get along" or "get noticed" in order to get what you want). But I think I remember reading that separation anxiety and stranger fear begins at around 7 months of age.

We didn't miss much when we adopted a Kenzie as a toddler. She couldn't walk on her own without falling face first into the floor, she couldn't crawl, and she wasn't speaking any English words. I fed her milk from her sippy cup while holding her like a baby - she actually wanted that. I figured if we get a toddler, that means I have around 18 months LESS spitting up, less drooling, and fewer sleepless nights. Not to mention less
diaper changes.

Don't get me wrong, when I changed Kenzie's diaper, it was a great time for bonding and fostering the attachment process, and we had many interesting "conversations" during the changes. I considered that time with her very intimate. For example, while changing her diaper one day, I heard her saying over and over again, "Mei Mei. Mei Mei. Mei Mei." I realized that that must have been her nickname at the orphanage. (This is not the mei mei in Chinese that means little sister, but in her Chinese name [Gui Yan Mei] the Mei meant Plum Blossom. So, saying Mei Mei was sort of like someone calling a child named Catherine "Cathy" or "Kitty Cat". It was a term of endearment. I began saying the name back to her and I got the biggest grin ever. She loved hearing her name.

I actually appreciated the fact that Kenzie came to us with so much personality! At 18-19 months old, she had a well-developed sense of humor, and showed it! She was also extremely ripe for learning language. She was just beginning to say some Chinese words (such as bye-bye, more, mine, mama, and baba). But her receptive language really took off. By the time we left Changsha (she had been placed in our arms on a Sunday evening, and we flew out early Friday afternoon) she knew most of her body parts, and knew to press the elevator buttons to go up and down. And so much more.... After being home a couple of weeks, she was already trying to say several words. However, her words for daddy and diaper sounded a lot alike...

I choose to believe that no matter what age of child one is referred, it is magical. Everyone seems to feel that they are matched with the child that was meant for them. We certainly feel that way.


Kristine and Shawn said...

I just wanted to comment as a first time parent. Our LID is 3/1. I think, from our perspective, it is the attatchment issue and the effects of living in an orphanage. For us, it has nothing to do with wanting a "baby" per se and I am with you about the diaper changes. I don't even think that missing a 1st birthday with our daughter will be a big deal for her (my nephew who just turned 1 had no idea what was going on!!). We just want all children to have a family as soon as possible so that they are "number one" in someone's life, not in crib number 5. Love reading about your daughter and if our daughter ends up to be older than 12 months, we are fine with that too.

Julie said...

Glad to hear that... and your perspective is a sound one. It's too bad we can't go for 2 kids at a time (we'd pay extra fees for that!) and adopt a toddler and a young child.

I guess I'm more concerned with those who are ADAMANT that their child be a baby in the traditional, western sense of the word.

I truly hope they are not too disappointed if they don't get that longed-for infant. I would say, reading as many posts as I do on the Yahoo boards, most of these kids do just fine once they are with their forever families. It doesn't take them long to realize they are the center of their new world - not to mention the all-you-can eat smorgasboard given them by the doting parents.

FatcatPaulanne said...

I think people are concerned about bonding, but also, they just hate to miss even one minute of parenting, much less a year!

motherhood@48 said...

I know it's hard to believe, but there is so much that a parent can do to make up for the bonding that didn't take place during infancy.

I do wish we could have had Kenzie from birth or shortly thereafter. But we have done a pretty good job with the bonding and attachment issues. My post from today (Aug 22) addresses one of the tools we used for bonding and attachment, and it has paid off.

I think I will expound on this issue further on a later post... re: attachment, bonding, and infancy vs toddlerhood.