I found the original information sheet we received about Vera from the adoption agency, dated April 2003, a year before we found her. It was so fun to read the description of her personality, to see the enduring characteristics as well as catch a glimpse of parts we never really experienced:
"The child is energetic, inquisitive and curious. She enjoys classes, music, PE and role plays. Follows instructions of caretakers accordingly and willingly. She is obedient.
Vera is a character. She is a leader and wants to be in the center of attention. Quite selective in relationships, especially with adults.
Loves to play with dolls, put on and off clothes, likes putting the dolls to sleep and feeding them. She has favorite toy dishes. She sets up a toy table, put the dishes and uses her imagination really well in this role play. Sometimes uses different bottles, tins and other stuff to replace the dishes. Vera expresses interest in books. She carefully watches each page with pictures and illustrations. Tries to be neat, turning over pages. She shares toys with others, but mostly those toys that are of no interest. She will not give up toys she plays with or loves best. Can put on and off clothes, but can't button up. Washes her face, hands, uses soap and a towel. Eats independently. Picky eater."
(From the adoption facilitator, Marina) "The girl looks good to me. I videotaped her dancing, eating, washing hands, combing her hair in front of the mirror. She showed me her towel, jumped on the trampoline, waved hello and goodbye. The girl looks really happy. Both caretakers love her much. Supply manager says she is her favorite and often brings treats to her. Vera comes to her office often and has special feelings towards this lady. She smiled to me, answered my questions (yes or no), followed all my requests patiently."
Having seen so many children with Ds come home from orphanages in such a neglected state, these descriptions are glorious and amazing. She had access to toys and books and exercise and loving caretakers. She was special to someone...was a favorite!
I was sad to read two sentences, though: "[Mother's name] and [Father's name] signed up the letter of relinquishment on April 22, 1999 because of Down's syndrome diagnosed. The girl arrived to the Infant's Home at age of 2 months, 19 days."
They had her for 80 days. I wonder how they processed that loss, how was the leaving, the parting, accomplished? I wonder if it might have made a difference to have the information I just shared, to know their girl would be such a character, a really happy girl? I think of them often and wish I had a way to ease any hurt they may still have in their hearts. Adoption is always a chiaroscuro--filled with light and shadows, joy and pain.
I read the information at dinner tonight and Vera, of course, knew we were talking about her, her adoption. She got "the look" on her face, the one that says she knows she is special to all of us, she is still a favorite, and she solemnly came over to bury her face in my neck and tell me she loves me.
Vera has been our daughter for 3090 days. I could write a book filled with observations and stories about her and I am so grateful for that privilege. She is still a leader, still the center of attention when she needs to be, and oh my, what a character, full of light.