This is what I wrote:
I want to say yes.
We received an unexpected email today from our home study agency saying they had a little girl for whom they were looking for a family. She's three months old. She's Chinese. She has Down's Syndrome.
I love people with Down's Syndrome. Love them. But am I ready to parent a child with Down's Syndrome? I don't know.
I expected the Husband to say, "no." He is usually the more conservative one between the two of us. But he didn't say, "no." He said, "I'll have to think about that." Which has me thinking about that.
And I'm realizing that deep down, I want to say yes.
But I don't even know how to begin to consider what that would mean. The gift and the curse of giving birth to a child with special needs is that you don't have a choice. The choice is made for you. We can choose to parent this girl. This little peanut.
Lila wants a sister. She prays every night for a sister. I worry that this is not what she had in mind.
I imagine my children grown with families of their own. This small one won't have that.
I imagine my house empty, my Husband to myself. This small one likely won't leave our home.
I imagine my life. My normal life. (Well, I suppose we gave up normal long ago when we said, "yes" to adoption, to multiple nationalities, to special needs.) I think despite all the out of the ordinary choices, I still imagined my life as normal in the future. This small one takes away all possibilities for "normal."
The Husband said, "I don't know what raising a child with Down's Syndrome would mean." I told him, "She's three months old. It won't mean much right now. She's a baby."
I tell myself that, too. I tell myself there are no guarantees that any of our children will have "normal" lives. But this is a guaranteed un-normal life.
I can feel my expectations, my limits, my parameters being stripped away. Gently, little by little. I never thought we'd consider adopting from a country other than Ethiopia. I never thought we'd consider special needs this soon. I never thought...well, I surprise myself with where we find ourselves. The small decisions we have made have led us here. Is this the destination or just another bend in the road?
"I want to say yes." Those raw thoughts were somewhat shocking for me to see in black and white. I knew the Husband wasn't quite there yet and to be honest, I wasn't sure I really was either! When I would think, "I want to say yes," my brain would respond with, "Really? Are you sure??" I told myself that more information would help and looked forward to our meeting the next evening.
The next day I busied myself with calling a few intentional people to let them know about this crazy development. One of those people was Kim, Kirby's mom. I carefully explained what we knew and we both cried on the phone as she shared her encouragement and affirmation. Not that I was surprised, but it was such a comfort to have a mom of a child with Down's Syndrome say, "You should do that!" In fact, she had almost no words of caution - I expect partially because she knows how well I know Kirby - only enthusiasm about our opportunity to have the same kind of joy she has experienced as Kirby's mom.
Our meeting that evening was to consist of short individual interviews and one longer joint interview. I dropped Lila off at my sister-in-law's house and the Husband took the first slot for the individual interview. By the time I got there, he was done and I went in for my interview while he waited in the lobby.
When my interview was done, our social worker got up to call Eric in to join us for the joint part of the interview. When he walked in the door, I knew something had happened. I could see it in his eyes.
"What happened?" I asked him.
"I saw her," he said softly.
"What? Who? The baby??" I said in quick succession. He nodded. "What do you mean you saw her?!"
He explained that as he was waiting in the lobby he heard two women speaking another language. He looked up to see two Chinese women walking toward him and one was carrying a car seat. As they passed him to leave the office, he peeked into the car seat and there she was. Round-cheeked and tiny with her tongue sticking out.
Tears burned, unbidden in my eyes as the Husband wiped his own. At first I was mad that he got to see her - I wanted to see her!! But quickly I realized what a grace it was that he was the one who saw her. I think mamas can "get there" easily in their brains when it comes to feeling maternal about children. The Husband, in all his manly emotions, has always needed an extra nudge to cross the line between "that's a cute kid" to "that's my kid."
For Ethiopia, he and I both saw newly adopted children clinging to their parents in the airport and our time there gave him a connection to the country and people that made it easy to say, "My child is in Ethiopia." For China, it was a documentary we saw about four Chinese adoptees. As we walked out of the theater, he said to me, "I needed that." It was not lost on me that perhaps God was giving him that extra nudge as confirmation that we should consider this baby girl. I marveled at the coincidence that we were there at the same time at all and at the tears that both of us were wiping away from our eyes.
Needless to say we were worthless in the interview. Partly because we now had the question, "Do we even need an international home study?" floating around in our heads and partly because our minds were on that baby who had just sailed past what could be her future Daddy. Our social worker picked up on this and said, "Let's finish up next time."
We went home and emailed the adoption consultant to see what else she learned through the meeting with the birth mom. It was about to get a little more complicated.