Diary of an adoption homepage
Are we in abrochi yet?” Abrochi means ‘abroad’ in West African pidgin, and my newly-adopted daughter was asking me if we had reached the ‘promised land’ whilst the plane was still taxiing down the runway.
She was incredibly excited, but I was hoping she would sleep. It had been a hectic couple of weeks organising her visa to come home with me, and bad weather meant that we didn’t have much of a holiday (as planned) in between the long waits for stamps, verifications and document legalisations. But here she was, sitting next to me and fascinated by all the moveable gadgets of the aircraft and, despite our 2am start, she slept not a wink the whole way. There was no one to meet us at the airport (I have always been a bit horrified at those documentaries that show adoptive parents with babe in arms arriving to a barrage of friends and family members at the gate—the kid always looks scared to death) and we humbly got a cab to my apartment and our new life together.
People often ask me what she found the strangest when she first arrived. For other adopted kids, I have heard it’s refrigerators or escalators. For my little girl it was free stuff—brochures, flyers, cards that sit on shop counters and at checkouts. She couldn’t go out the door without coming home with a bunch of them; she still does.
Bringing home an adopted child is sort of like tuning in at the second season of a tv show—in my case, the third, as evidence pointed to her being aged at least seven. Despite my regular contact with her over the three-year adoption process, there were so many holes to fill. I found out what I could about her background whilst I was there (not much) and live in hope that one day, when she is ready, she will fill me in on the rest.
That said, it was August and we had plenty of time to get to know each other better. Yet, despite my regular calls and visits during the three-year adoption process, I found out that I really didn’t know her at all. I had always thought of her as being shy and retiring, so was quite stunned at our first social gatherings when I realised that she was outgoing and extrovert, a social animal who loved being the centre of attention. She would systematically go around to everyone in the room and charm the pants off them. That is, everyone but me. In the beginning, I didn’t feel like a mum, I felt like a babysitter or a ‘sugar mummy’—and it would take quite some time for that feeling to change.