Then, she was ours, all ours, forever. Claire was three when she was adopted and after a few months I was desperate for someone to understand what I was going through. To that point I had needed support for foster care and hadn't reached to the Down syndrome community, I couldn't, Foster care was so hard. I was so distracted by it being so hard that I rarely even thought about Claire-bear having Down syndrome. I want a do-over of the start of her life; so many things I would go back and tell myself not to worry about. I'm still telling myself now, stop worrying, stop being afraid, stop beating yourself up over the past.
Sense then we have met a lot of families who have children with Down syndrome that they gave birth to and I have heard so many stories. I know now the grief I was feeling is normal. I felt terrible about feeling bad and all my friends had a three year jump on their grieving. The kids were turning four, everyone was adjusting but me, I was starting. Part of the problem was the reaction I kept getting from families, "you are a saint, you can't understand what I am going through, you chose this." Okay guys, I know I don't understand exactly how you feel but please don't kick me out of the club; I am hurting. Adoption, bonding, it's takes time. Then, now I process that my child has Down syndrome but it was my choice so I'm not allowed to freak out. Wait, you all freaked out, why not me?
It took a long time to feel like I fit in somewhere and I think a big part of that was this blog. It's my way of letting everyone know to go ahead and revoke my application for sainthood, please. We are a normal family, we freak out and we have been through a serious emotional roller coaster these past five years.
What I have learned through the journey was worth all the tiers and worry lines around my eyes. (Side note: someone told me the other day that mother-caregivers of children with disabilities age 7x faster, NOT ENCOURAGING!) But I do kind of feel old, like I gained seven years for every one with Claire. More than years of worry though, years of wisdom. I started out pretty immature, a slow learner. Claire pushed me into hyper-drive, sink or swim baby. If I picture my life without Claire it makes me so sad. Being her Mom has changed me in every good way, brought loving, encouraging, inspiring people into our lives, and has given us big dreams.
I think that's the fear, that your child with a disability will take away all your big dreams, and to be honest some dreams do die but the dream that comes true is better than the one you would have chosen for yourself. So here's to not thinking things through, trusting God and getting on the best ride of my life.
I love you My Claire.
This is a beautiful video about a father's changed heart towards his daughter. Tiers streaming down my face because I do understand. I understand the shame and guilt then pride and regret. I wish more people would be honest about how hard and wonderful adoption is. Warning, watch with tissues! You know, just encase this didn't make you cry.