Monday, October 24, 2011

First Date

There are many challenges in adopting an older child, but one of the hardest to deal with emotionally is the loss of so much of your own child's life.  The first months and years are fraught with all sorts of difficulties as the child adjusts to an entirely new life in a new home with a new family, new culture, new language, new rules, etc.  However, no matter how hard those difficulties, things tend to get better over time.  Parents get better at helping their child, and as the child gets accustomed to her new life she gets better at dealing with the issues from her past.  However, one thing that never gets better is the loss of all that you missed out on in your child's life.

There is so much we missed out on with Christina.  We missed her first smiles, her first steps, her first words.  We missed the loss of her first tooth - in fact, by the time we got her she had already lost ALL her baby teeth so we never got to share in her excitement over the tooth fairy's visit.  We missed her first birthday and all the ones up until the teenage years.  We missed out on being able to comfort and hold her during sickness from the months she battled tuberculosis as a toddler to the simple colds she faced while growing up.  We weren't able to stand up for her when others at school were mean and made fun of her for being an orphan or for being Vietnamese, and we weren't there to protect her when the bigger kids at the orphanage stole away her food or beat her up.  From the happy moments to the sad moments, we missed all of her childhood.  We have not one picture of her as a baby, as a toddler, as a preschooler, as a small child.  In fact, other than the 1 referral picture we have of her at age 11, the only pictures we have of her from before we adopted her are pictures of her at almost 12 years old from families who traveled before us to adopt her friends.

When you miss so much of a child's life you can't waste time dwelling on what you missed - you must move forward and delight in all the new experiences with your child.  After all, regardless of how many years you missed you can look forward to a lifetime together.  We have enjoyed watching each of our adopted kids delight in the new world around them.  From her first time at McDonald's to her first time at the ocean there have been many "firsts" with Christina.  Most recently we got to delight in her first date!

We are ever so proud of Christina for waiting until the right guy came along instead of settling for second best just to have a boyfriend.  We truly love this guy and couldn't be happier that Christina is with such a wonderful young man.  He comes from a great family, and he has a strong faith in Christ with a great set of morals.  Our younger children adore him, and we love having him here with our family!
These 2 pictures are some I took just before they left our home.  Doesn't Christina look beautiful (and happy!) for it to be 7:00am and for her to have no make-up on?

This was actually back in August, so that first date obviously went quite well.  :)  I think they look so cute together!

Her first date also happened to to be her first time hiking to the top of a mountain (Mt. LeConte in the Smoky Mountains).

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