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 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.