Adoption is a different kind of birth. The process doesn’t follow nature’s timeline, but all the elements are present: conception, gestation, labor, delivery, post partum. A whole book could be written about my personal struggles through each step in the process. Start to finish it took 24 months. Fun facts from Google:
“In Mammals, Elephants have the longest gestation period of 22 months. This is even longer than the Blue Whale, whose gestation lasts around a year. However, there are a few fish and amphibians that have gestation periods much longer than an elephant. For example, the Alpine Salamander gives birth to live young after a 3 year pregnancy. Spiny Dog Fish are pregnant for 24 months, and there are claims Frilled Shark have been recorded to have gestation periods up to 3.5 years.”
So our duration from conception to postpartum was like that of a Spiny Dog Fish. Go ahead and do a search for that one – make sure you are not afraid of sharks and not grossed out by fishing pictures. I digress…
I gained the most weight with the coming of my fifth child than with any of the others. And the delivery was the very hardest of them all. I have grieved at the thoughts surrounding Kaitlynn’s actual physical conception, gestation, and day of birth. The little I know about her biological parents makes me very sad.
Substance abuse was a reality in this situation. My daughter most likely suffered in the womb nutrition deficiency as well as stress from the effects of the substances and the lifestyle. The lack of adequate prenatal care might attribute to some of her cognitive functions to this day.
Was she born on the streets? I don’t know. What was labor like? I don’t know. Did her birth mom go to a clinic? I don’t know.
Kaitlynn’s ears have tiny scars where they were once pierced, but are now closed up. Most Bolivians who give birth to girls in the clinics have the nurses put earrings in right away. Did this happen for my daughter? What was her newborn care like? Was she sick often in the first year of her life before she was taken to the orphanage? We don’t know.
She was assumed to be about 2 and ½ years old when we brought her home on May 26, 2010, the day before Bolivia’s Mother’s Day. The journey has been hard, and good, and sorrowful, and rewarding, and eye-opening, and challenging, and life-changing, and truth-revealing, and necessary, and powerful.
If I ever meet Kaitlynn’s birth mom – ONLY at Kaitlynn’s initiative – I want to ask her about that day she “dio luz” to our child. It is hard to not have that story to tell my daughter. I want to be able to tell her about the day she was born.
I can, though, tell her about the day she came home to her family. A smile did not leave her face that day. She had fun being tended to. We cuddled on the rocking chair. She walked around the house touching everything and opening and shutting every door and drawer. She colored at the coffee table with the boy she made into a big brother. Her sister Gabrielle fed her food on a little spoon while she sat in a high chair – and they were so silly together. In Spanish toddler talk she prattled on and on as she settled into her favorite place in the house: my arms. She also found a special thinking place, the bean bag chair, and made it all her own. She had a little bed and the first night was full of tossing and turning, but she liked that she shared a room with her sisters. These are the parts of her birth story that I can tell her.
We spent two weeks making daily visits to the orphanage where she lived before we brought her home. So her first day in our house was not the first day we met.
On the day the judge gave us official permission to go meet our daughter DaRonn had the foresight to bring a big bag of candy to keep in his pocket. She much preferred his treat over the dolly I brought as a gift. To this day dolls are not very interesting to her, but she loves to eat sweets. We got to know each other little by little over that fortnight. Sometimes we brought the whole family. Sometimes it was just DaRonn and me. Her favorite things during those visits were: candy from papa, taking turns sitting on our laps, and drinking water from the water bottle we brought.