Advocating

Something I am have struggled with since bringing Odette home is advocating for her.  I mean I am her biggest advocate in the world…until it is time to face someone.  Then I back down.  It is a quality that I was surprised I had.  I am not typically someone who is a pushover, but then once we adopted I became hypersensitive to the fact that adoptive parents are strange.  (We are.  If you are an adoptive parent you have to know that too.)  I didn’t want to play that card.  I didn’t want to push the facts in others’ faces.  So I didn’t.

Now after being a mom for 9 months (how funny that that is the length of a full-term pregnancy.  The length of time that most would consider themselves a mom is just as they deliver their child.) I am just ready to worry less about what others think of me and my family and begin to worry about advocating for my daughter.  My daughter is different, but she is the same.

Different, but the same.

A paradox, if you will.

That’s what my daughter is.  I’ve had a hard time digesting that.  To me she is just my daughter I guess.  To others she is different.  Or to others she is the same.  Both are wrong.  She is different, but the same.   As are her needs.

The first real encounter we’ve had with Odette’s needs is at preschool.  You see, on paper Odette doesn’t turn 4 until May.  It is a date that was made up by someone (who knows who) in Congo.  We know that she is older.  We always had a hunch, but as time goes on we are more and more affirmed in our thoughts.  We don’t think it is off by much, probably just 6-9 months.  We decided shortly after she was home (even before we really KNEW she was older, but instead had a gut feeling) that we wouldn’t really worry about it since it was close to being accurate.  We were cool with that.  While I didn’t like the idea of celebrating an arbitrary date, especially considering that we’ve told Odette that birthdays are the day you come out of your mommy’s tummy, we decided to accept it and go with it.  We are.  We will.

Who would have thought that 6-9 months would make much of a difference?  We are learning it does.  We see where Odette is compared to her classmates and she doesn’t belong there.  She is much further along developmentally and deserves to be with her same aged peers, even if that isn’t her age on paper. That’s where it gets sticky.  That’s where (a new) mom and dad set up an appointment and ask demand that our daughter be moved to the class that is better suited for her developmentally.  We fully acknowledge that she isn’t where they are academically, but strongly feel that that is only because of her adoption and the whole language/exposure issue.  She is the same, but different.  She is 3, but she is 4.  I don’t believe that an inaccurate date on a piece of paper should hold her back from where she belongs.

I won’t let it happen.

I won’t.

I will advocate for my daughter.  I will insist that HER needs are met.  I will pull research.  I will push the facts.  I will not hold her back because of her unique situation.  I am learning.  I am becoming a more vocal advocate.   I am walking that fine line.  I will do what it takes for my daughter.

My daughter.  Even if she has her own sense of style.

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7 thoughts on “Advocating

  1. Yes, you have have the birth date changed rather easily. In Indiana, they like to see two letters from doctors, (i.e. dentist/family doctor), though one can suffice. You wouldn’t even have to go before a judge, just have an attorney file it.

  2. Our 3 kiddos are adopted and we are adopting a 4th from DRC. Our little girl is amazingly smart and mature, and we were able to get her into kindergarten early, with no problems. We also asked to have her put up with the older classes at church because she will dumb herself down if she is with kids her own age or those younger than herself. We didn’t want to lose out on her competent mind.

  3. What a good mama you are. No one fits that cookie cutter mold and you have to find what is just right for her, I hope you can get her in the class she needs. Love that last picture of sweet Odette!!

  4. How funny! I have also had to learn to be more assertive as a mom and it’s taken about 9 months for me to feel like I can do it. AP’s are definitely weird, especially “Plan A-ers” but we, like any other parent, desperately love our children and want to do what’s best for them. Keep advocating for Odette – you’re just being a parent! 🙂

  5. I found your blog recently, and have read it start to finish (is that creepy…? I’m not a stalker or anything.) I’m really interested in adopting from Congo, and I love to read the stories of adoptive families. Thank you for being honest about both the great and the hard parts of your journey. You have a truly beautiful family, and I look forward to watching you guys grow.

  6. Bravo!!! Three cheers for you!!! Be bold, we have to for our children! If we are not their advocates who will be?!? Speaking as a mom of an independent 4 year old fashionista daughter and a teacher with a BA in early childhood development, I totally agree with you! She looks to me to be a healthy, vivacious, spunky, confident, independent and well rounded 4 year old. Fight on and believe that God is walking with you and leading you in your every decision concerning Odette. Blessings, Lezlie

  7. FYI you can have birth date changed. It will require some paperwork and time infront of a judge but it can be done and seems like it would be worth it ….we had friends who did it for the daughter from China

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