DJ the Great

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Not sure if folks noticed that I ended my last post with a bit of a cliffhanger, but I had a great talk with DJ’s caseworker last week and got some very fun updates. First & most important, there’s a very good possibility that we’ll be able to go out to Oregon and bring him home in time for him to finish the school year in Pittsburgh! While I know logically speaking that there’s not much difference between him coming in May vs. June, but it feels like a HUGE difference.

You’d think after so many years of waiting that I’d really be more patient, but I was so excited about the prospect of meeting him a few weeks earlier that I started tearing up during the phone call. Which is kind-of funny because I promised our awesome adoption coordinator that I was not going to cry during this meeting since I completely burst into tears the last time that I saw her to pick up Dominick’s photo album. Oh well, as anyone who has seen me watch a Hallmark commercial can attest, I probably shouldn’t make promises about not crying.

Second, and I don’t want to say equally important necessarily, but DJ’s caseworker told us that his new favorite football team after looking at our family photo album is the Steelers. And his current foster family–who is being really amazing in terms of helping him with the transition–bought him his first Steelers shirt. As you might’ve guessed, more tears followed. I know, I know, I’m crazy, but if you’re from Pittsburgh then you totally understand. And if you’re not, you should move here and find out 🙂 (FYI: if anyone from the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau happens to be reading this, I’m very available for hire!)

….
In other news on the home front, I’m still reading Sherrie Eldridge’s great book, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew and am continuously impressed by how insightful it is. One thing, in particular, has stood out to me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last few days. According to Eldridge, one of the mistakes that many adoptive parents fall into is trying to overemphasize the similarities between their adoptive child and his/her new adopted family. For example, telling the child that they looks like their adoptive parents. Or what I’ve been doing lately which is really focusing on how DJ’s interests are very similar to John or my siblings or my nieces and nephews. While I think that is definitely a good thing to make your adoptive child feel like a part of their new family, Eldridge makes the important point that overemphasizing the similarities between DJ and our biological family comes at the risk of undervaluing the wonderful differences that Dominick is bringing to our family. She uses the example of grafting a fruit tree (p. 5) to describe how parents should view their adoptive children:

A grafted tree. Magnificent to behold. One of a kind. Contrary to nature. Luxuriant leaves and intricate rootes. Loaded with horticultural challenges for a gardener, but ultimately yielding a tree with unparalleled beauty. The adopted child. Magnificent to behold. One of a kind. Biological features often contrary to yours. Intricate roots that need to be healed. Loaded with behavioral challenges for parents, but ultimately yielding a life of unparalleled beauty.

While I’m so excited to find out all of the ways that DJ will fit into our biological family–whether its through his love of Legos or Star Wars or Diary of a Wimpy Kid or skateboarding–I’m even more excited about the differences that he’ll bring. It might be his creativity or his Hispanic heritage or even a love for professional basketball but whatever it is,  it will be uniquely DJ, and it will be great!

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