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.