When we were in the process of Asher's adoption and getting information on him, we were slightly frustrated about not having seen a picture of him, but only slightly. I think some of my blog readers might have been more frustrated than we were. ; -) This was, according to the Serbian ministry, the first adoption to a US family that was a 100% blind referral. We weren't getting information about Asher from any source other than government officials, I hadn't met him during previous visits, and we had no pictures. There are certain things we know we can't deal with and some things we have dealt with and know we don't have it in us to do again. Our criteria was any child, boy or girl, between the ages of 6-11 with any special needs, but we cannot take a child with known aggression issues. That's a pretty broad criteria. One thing we knew...we did NOT want a child younger than 6 because, given the delays that go along with an institutionalized child with Down syndrome, we didn't feel able to parent a toddler again at this point in our lives. (Can you hear God laughing?)
Here is the exact information we received from the Serbian ministry about Asher:
Boy L, age of 7, born in October 2004, with Down syndrome; first marriage child; protected within institution; have stable developmental progress, apart from speech development which is regressing; able to walk without grownups support on flat surface; with grownups support able to walk up and down the stairs; able to sit on the chair while feeding; passive while eating; does not make difference between sweet and salty food; he does not chew; unable to hold a cup himself; feed with the spoon by grownups; mostly repeating activities he is engaged in.
Although we knew that we could turn down Asher's referral upon meeting him, or any time during the visitation process, really, Dean and I decided that we would take the child God had matched us with, and be accepting of his needs no matter what they were. This was a huge leap of faith for both of us, on many different levels.
Let me tell you what I know now....
I know in those first weeks after meeting Asher how difficult it was to get a decent picture of him. For every one picture that was decent enough to post, I took 30 that were not. Most of the people I know who have adopted children internationally in the past couple of years did so based on a photo posted at Reece's Rainbow or other photo listing site. There is something that happens to many people who have made their decision based on a photo.
We didn't have a picture making it a bit more difficult to create an imaginary child. We had a loose description of some of his skills, much of which we later learned was either inaccurate or outdated. What we KNEW is that we had no idea the child we were getting until I GOT there and saw him in person. It was a lot like being pregnant with a prenatal diagnosis. We knew he had Down syndrome and that's about it!
I am SO GLAD we never had that picture. I'm being completely honest here...I know that if we had seen a picture of Asher prior to adopting him, we would likely have turned him down. At two weeks home we can't imagine Asher not being here. No, our adjustment has not been "easy", but it also hasn't been anything we weren't ready for. Yes, there have been surprises. Like the fact Dean and I did not want to adopt a toddler because we feel we had it in us to parent a toddler again. Hey, going back to age SIX seemed very young to us! And now we are doing just that: parenting a child who, although he is 7, he is a toddler in every sense of the word. He is a brand new walker, he is exploring the world like a toddler would, he is eating babyhood and on a bottle. And yes we can hear God laughing at the parameters we set, knowing we absolutely WERE able to parent a toddler again, we just had to be pushed into it.
And now, I'll leave you with two videos. The first of Asher taken on day 2 of visits to the orphanage.
And this video, taken last week, of Axel teaching Asher how to play with a toy. Sorry it's so dark!