This is something I wrote on June 26, 2006, just three weeks after adopting Belle. It’s one of my favorite pieces, and given that Belle is now the same age Krystal was when I wrote it, I thought I’d revisit it. This was originally posted on the blog I kept for family members during the adoption trip itself, so this is it’s first “public” appearance. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up on how things have changed since then in a few days. Or maybe not. Either way, here you go!
Sometimes you get a glimmer of something extra in a person you thought you knew as well as you know yourself.
I always saw my daughter Krystal as a little girl. When I imagined a sibling in our family, I still saw her as the youngest sister. Our friends nearly all have kids her age or older, and she just seemed to fit as the youngest child. Of course, with adoption you can arrange so your youngest child stays that way, but I didn’t want to do this. I wanted to adopt a younger child, for many reasons, hardly any of which had anything to do with Krystal.
Adding Belle to our family has been, is, and will continue to be a transition for all of us, probably for awhile. Belle is a gift all on her own, but the added dimension she has brought out in her older sister is a gift for me too. By no means do I intend to say Krystal is having an easy time being the big sister. In fact, she is probably having the toughest time of the three of us adjusting to all the changes. But because of her new role in our family I am seeing things in Krystal I didn’t know were there. Within hours of meeting Belle she was making her laugh, and she continues to take on this job with relish. If Belle is cranky, Krystal will take it upon herself to do something to snap her out of it. She is generous, offering up the first turn on the swing. She has happily passed on toys, and enjoys playing Mama with her when I need a few minutes to get something done.
Of course, Krystal has also said she wishes it were just she and me again, that she’s not sure she likes having a sister after all. I’ve said I understand her feeling, and that she’s allowed to feel that way. But Belle is a part of our family now forever, just like she is. When I baby Belle, Krystal wants to be babied too. She has said she wishes she were little like Belle again. And then I remind her of all she can do that Belle can’t, and she turns content to be herself again.
Suddenly, my little five year old seems like a big five year old. Maybe I appreciate all she can do for herself now that I have someone younger and smaller who needs my help with so many things. Maybe she was a big kid all along, and it was me who needed a little kid to be able to see it. But maybe shedding some of the little kid stuff has allowed that new, green, raw big kid stuff to show through. Though my patience is being tested in new ways everyday right now, my heart is overflowing with love for my two girls – Krystal who I have known and loved for over four years and who I get to see new things in, and Belle who I have only just met but who peels away a new piece of herself everyday, showing me the beauty within. What a ride.