It is amazing how much a person can process in the blink of an eye. When we react quickly to something, we often say we are acting on instinct. We also use the word intuition. But it's more than that.
When you blink something, your subconscious mind assesses, calculates and concludes something, and then alerts your conscious mind to a decision--thoughts, emotion, knowledge and experience all come together to give you direction, or to give you an answer.
We've been asked how we came so quickly to the decision to adopt Alina.
Did we fall in love at first sight? What was it about her that tugged so strongly at our hearts? Did we thoroughly discuss all aspects of adding another child to our family before committing to adopt her? Did we mull over the pros and cons of international adoption? Did we consider what impact adopting another child with special needs would have on our family, and on our other children?
I knew as soon as I saw her sweet little face that we were going to be Alina's forever family. I couldn't imagine having her ornament on our Christmas tree each year, always wondering if she was healthy, or warm, or smiling, or feeling loved. Chris was drawn to her, too. But the short and most complete answer to the question of how we arrived at our decision: we blinked it.
Without sorting out each issue individually, Chris and I both synthesized a large amount of information in a very short period of time. We knew our hearts--and our instincts--were telling us to bring Alina home to us. Luckily, we came to the same conclusion and neither of us felt the need to consider our options for an extended period of time. We both knew that the blink was right.
We have talked since about all of the things which we both knew when we decided that we would be Alina's yes.
Her picture--the only one we have of her, still:
The version on the left is what we saw on Reece's Rainbow. It is not a good picture, quality or otherwise. Alina's expression is blank, her head is shaved and her little lips are really chapped. But through that picture, we both saw a diamond in the rough. We took that picture and mentally dusted it off. And what we saw beneath was a beautiful, amazing and able little girl.
It was an absolute blessing that the picture looked yellowed and grainy. It made us stop and notice her.
This little girl needs a family and she will be overlooked because of this picture, was all I could think when I first saw it, so I went to work right away on color correcting and lightly editing the photo (version #2, on the right).
Chris and I were looking at a picture of a little girl who is considered "severely disabled" in her society simply because she has Down syndrome, and we know that she was most likely abandoned because of that diagnosis. We both saw so much potential in Alina and know that she deserves opportunity and happiness as much as anyone else. We have the desire and ability to offer her the chance to pursue her dreams.
We have no idea what she is able to do at this point in her life, and it really doesn't matter how independent she is, or how she is limited. We aren't looking at her thinking, What can she do for us? We're focused on what we can do for her. We know she will add her own light to our group and enrich us all in ways we could never imagine. Love adds--it never takes away. We both firmly believe that.
We have a first-hand example--in Bridget--and know that people with Down syndrome have many abilities. Alina is sure to have her own set of challenges and skills. We all do.
Alina is just a little bit younger than Bridget. We have researched therapies, medical care, financial planning, education, nutrition, etc. for Bridget and have already found our way through many aspects of having a child with Down syndrome.
We have a wonderful pediatrician and school system. We are surrounded with people who care about our family and who believe in us--and in our commitment to living a life filled with love.
We already have a house full. What is one more :)? And we already have a child with Ds. That's no big deal for us.
We have the benefit of knowing that having Bridget as a sibling has only enhanced the lives of our other children. They adore her. They all quickly agreed that Alina would be welcome and well-loved here, with us.
In the blink of an eye, all of these things came to mind. We knew right away that we we're taking a gigantic leap of faith.
We know now that it is also a giant leap of love.