Shortly after Hannah got home, I told a friend of mine about my new six-year-old daughter and commented that she was rather strong willed. He laughed and said, “What other kind of a daughter would you expect to get!”

He’s right. We’re the perfect match.

I love to ride bikes and swim. Hannah does too. I like to ski. After two days of lessons, she followed me down an intermediate slope in Colorado yelling, “Faster mama, faster!” She asks questions about everything. I love to explain things. And yes, we are both rather strong willed!
Many adoptive parents will tell you there’s an amazing spiritual quality to adopting: you end up with the perfect match! Adoptive parents agonize over decisions about age, health, gender, and more. In the end, you parent the child you’re supposed to parent.

Hannah is bright, articulate, affectionate, funny, intuitive, coordinated, and very, very smart. Working to become a family, however, has not been easy. During our first months together, Hannah was defiant, belligerent, and mean as she struggled to adjust to everything new in her life. New foods, new smells, new people, new rules, new freedoms, new choices, new language, and a new country (Hannah was born in Rybinsk, Russia.)

The day I met her, nearly two years ago, she leaped into my arms, wrapped her arms and legs around me, and buried her face in my neck. I eventually remembered how to say, “Ya tvoia mama” (I’m your mama). She smiled shyly and nodded.

We lived through six months of hell with multiple meltdowns (hitting, kicking, spitting, biting, yelling) each day. Then we lived through 12 months of “mixed bag.” Now we are into a happy, comfortable routine. Most days are great. Some days are challenging. Just like any family.

Like all families, we are proud of our accomplishments. In two years, Hannah has learned to ride a bike, swim, throw a football, play basketball, go to school, be on the honor roll, collect sports cards, play computer games, live in a family, and speak English. Me? I’ve learned to deal with adoptive family issues. I’ve become less self conscious because I’m focusing on her instead of me. And I’ve learned to have more fun! I make up nonsense words, wade in cold streams, and jump out from hiding places. I love it when Hannah says, “Mama, you’re so funny!”

We never take each other for granted. It amazes both of us that we found each other. We are truly the perfect match!

Written by: Susan M. Ward, an older child adoption specialist, provides parent coaching and resources for adoptive families. Susan’s training has focused on adoption issues relating to attachment, grief, and parenting. She’s also the adoptive parent of a child healed from RAD (reactive attachment disorder).