The Day You Meet Your Child

adopted child with new momInternational or Domestic adoptionImage3Image2Image1

The first time you meet your child… The first time she sees you… That first moment…

We all wonder… What will she look like in person? How will I feel? How will she act? Should I hug her first? Or play with her for a while? Even when we’re trying to be objective about it, we often create unrealistic expectations for what it will be like the day we meet our children.

The day you meet your child for the first time may be a wonderful, positive memory that happily remains with you for years to come. Or, it may be frustrating and disappointing.

Whether you adopt domestically or internationally, through an agency or interdependently, your life before adopting will be filled with paperwork, phone calls, emails, setting up the room, buying clothes, telling friends, and more. All of these exciting planning stages create a sense of excitement, and high expectations for the moment you meet your child.

One end of the meet-your-child event is something like this:

As soon as our new son saw us, he turned with a smile and reached for us. As we took him in our arms, he said, “Mama, Papa…” We held him between us as we cried. He gently patted our faces. We were a family.

The other end of the meet-your-child event is something like this:

I was panic-stricken the moment I saw her. She looked pale and sickly and nothing like I imagined. As soon as I reached for her, she began screaming. I put her on the floor to show her the toys I had brought and she continued screaming and began heaving the toys around the room. I was sure I was making the worst decision of my life.

Most experiences fall somewhere in between the hearts-and-roses version and the what-have-I-done version. No matter what the first meeting with your child is like, it will probably have little significance in your long-term relationship with her. You will both be nervous. One or both of you may be tired from travelling. You will be excited. Your child probably terrified of the potential change in her life. All of these emotions lend themselves to possible difficulties in those first moments together.

Do take pictures. Do take videos. Do record notes about how you felt: good, bad, or indifferent. But, generally, look at the first meeting with your child as just one of many good, bad, exciting, worrisome, fun-filled, challenging, scary, happy, joy-filled moments you will face together as parent and child.