Thursday, February 16, 2006

Gotcha Day + 1 Year

Today is the one-year aniversary of "gotcha day", the day that Dada was put into our arms for the first time. Last year at this time we were in China in the White Swan hotel marveling at this wonderful little person we had been blessed with, overwhelmed by the reality of it, and quickly dealing with the immediacy of a child who needs to be fed and changed and bathed, all of it new to us. (Fortunately we had our parents with us, another marvelous blessing).

I think it's fair to say that we could not have been happier. We knew that we wanted to start a family, to be parents, and now we were. We knew that our lives would change in ways we couldn't imagine (and in ways we were pretty sure we could imagine) and we were entering into it with full acceptance, confident that we had made the right decision. One of the important aspects of adoption is that it cannot happen by accident. You have to want it and it's hard enough to do that you must be reasonably committed to doing it in order to make it happen. But it's still possible for one of you to not be fully invested in it. But we felt strongly that this was what we both wanted (and time has proved us correct so far).

The last year has definitely been an adventure, a change, a reordering of priorities, a restructuring of our lives and habits. We've had to struggle with the challenges all parents face, the issues of not knowing what to do at stressful moments, of functioning under stress and fatigue and self doubt. But we've delighted in the joy that Dada brings to everything.

For me, the joyous greeting I get when I come home from work is all I need to remind me why I gave up all those things I could do as a childless person, why suddenly a lot of things I thought were more or less important suddenly became almost entirely unimportant. The wonder of watching this child grow and learn day by day is just wonderful.

And of course none of this is new but it is our experience.

We've been incredibly lucky with Dada and we know that and try to remember that many many parents have a much harder time of it. Dada is a happy, healthy child--outgoing and sociable, generally as well behaved as any two-year-old can be expected to be, communicates remarkably well considering the limitations inherent in her age and early life. We are inexpressibly thankful for the blessing that she is and hope that we, as parents, can be worthy custodians the miracle she is.

Julie, as the primary care giver (as they say) has shouldered the heavier burden of parenthood and while I have some insight into what her typical day is like, I can't fully appreciate it.

One challenge we have as Dada's parents is that Julie and I are both introverts (as defined by the Myers-Brigs personality inventory) while Dada is pretty clearly an extrovert. This means that it is very tiring for us to interact with Dada over a long period of time because Dada, as an extrovert, wants constant interaction while we, as introverts, want quiet alone time. This makes it very interesting to be around Dada but also more tiring than you would otherwise expect.

Also, we're old--you don't really appreciate how old you are until you're chasing a toddler all day. Not that we're creaky or anything but we're not spring chickens either. On the other hand, we've both increased our upper-body strength significantly as a side effect of carrying around a 27-pound toddler.

CIMG3287To sum up, it's a been a wonderful year, full of joy and excitement and only a few moments of fear and trepidation and only a few of frustration and crushing doubt. I think I can speak for Julie when I say that we have absolutely no regrets about becoming parents.

Whether its synchronicity or just simple coincidence, today we were handed the keys to our new house. It's not quite ready to move into and we haven't closed on it yet, but the real doors are on it and we have keys. It seemed a fitting occurence on this day.


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