Tuesday, January 12, 2010
About a year after we adopted Button, Mr Taz and I put in our application to adopt a second child. We had always planned on having more than one child, and at that time, didn't realise that Button had autism. So alongside all the assessments and therapies that Button was having, we were also being assessed to see if we were suitable parents for another child.
Button and his issues were a major part of the assessment. And to be perfectly honest, I think the talking we did about it then, both with the social worker and between ourselves, is part of the reason we have handled his diagnosis so well. It was like having our own private therapy sessions. We talked through how his delays had affected us as individuals, and as a couple and how we would deal with situations going in to the future. Adding to our family seemed like the natural thing to do, and we decided this time to adopt from Vietnam. The wait was slightly shorter there, and the babies younger. We thought that Button would find it easier to adapt to a small baby than to a toddler.
When Button was 4, we got the phone call to say we had been referred a baby girl. Travelling to Asia can be stressful enough, but travelling with an autistic 4 year old was absolutely terrifying! The journey to Vietnam was uneventful enough and Button coped extremely well with the flights and airports. We were lucky enough to be travelling with a couple of other families who were great with him and very understanding.
The orphanage that Belle was living in was about a 3 hour drive from Hanoi. Luckily, Button loves to go for a drive, so he was very happy sitting in the mini bus, eating his jelly tots. Meeting Belle for the first time was an amazing experience. She was without doubt the most beautiful little girl ever. They placed her in my arms and once again i fell in love. She was amazing.
We had initially thought we would have to be in Vietnam for 2 - 3 weeks, but it turned out to be four. So there we were, cooped up in a small room, in the middle of a heat wave (and believe me, a heat wave in Hanoi is a REAL heat wave!) in a hotel with no swimming pool and nothing to do. Button did not cope well at all. His aggression got worse, he pulled everyone and anyone's hair. He ate hardly anything and was generally absolutely miserable.
We visited Belle in the orphanage 3 more times before we could take her home. The journey home started off well, but on the Amsterdam - Dublin flight all hell broke loose. My only guess is that Button was tired and jet-lagged and couldn't face the idea of getting on another plane. He kicked screamed and shouted for the whole flight. Mr Taz held Belle, while I literally had to sit on Button to try and prevent him from attacking the person in the seat in front of us.
As soon as we landed he stopped. Like someone had just flicked a switch. We arrived out to the small crowd of family and friends, with Mr Taz and I looking shell shocked, and Button happy, smiling and dancing! I swear that to this day they do not believe how bad that flight was!
When I look back to that day, it was one of the happiest and hardest day of my life. Autism was a reality, and it wasn't just going to affect me and Mr Taz, but Belle too. We were all in this together.