This little girl, Anja, is actually 3. Her picture is clearly out of date.
Her records list enuresis and vesicoureteral reflux (I don't know much about this condition--it can require surgery but she might have outgrown it by now). She is also expected to need corrective lenses.
And this is Pyotr:
Pyotr will turn 2 in December. He is lactose intolerant and has a posterior tongue tie which was repaired but then grew back--the condition should not require medical treatment. He exhibits some pica (eating non-food objects). The records say Pyotr has some words but is hard to understand. He is not toilet trained.
Here's another picture:
Anja and Pyotr are actually siblings. And they don't look miserable or asleep all the time.
They can walk. They can play creatively.
And they are actually brilliant. Pyotr has a vocabulary of over 20 words. So what if he's hard to understand? So what if he's not potty trained? So what if he eats dirt? He's not even two yet.
If you haven't figured it out yet, Anja and Pyotr are my biological kids, Hannah and Peter. Everything I wrote about them is true (Hannah has outgrown her vesicoureteral reflux). Enuresis--bedwetting--is common up until kindergarten at least. Posterior tongue tie is pretty much irrelevant once the child is no longer nursing--well, maybe it would affect French kissing, but not a big deal. Lactose intolerance is an issue, but not as big of an issue as I might have thought.
The fact that I can make my fairly typical kids (who, of course, are brilliant and a joy) sound like risky, medically needy kids can tell you a few things. It tells you that some diagnoses aren't as scary as they sound. It tells you that a bad picture can make a big difference in how you perceive a child. If the first picture you saw was 1 1/2 year old Pyotr playing ring-around-the-rosies, or 3-year-old Anja tracing the alphabet, you would have had a totally different impression of them. I see the first picture of my daughter and I know that's Hannah when she's unhappy; you might look at it and assume Hannah is an unhappy girl. I look at the picture of Peter and remember him falling asleep in the playpen when I gave him a timeout; you might think he lives in that playpen and his legs are stuck in that position.
Now, you also might realize that having children by birth can give you something you didn't expect too. I never would have chosen a child with lactose intolerance. Can you believe that? I would not have picked my own son. That's painful to think about. But now that I understand it (and am dealing with it anyway) it's a non-issue to me.
I've been wanting to do this post for a while but hadn't found time to do it; I hope it helps bring home what a picture and a description of a child's challenges (rather than strengths) can't tell you.
One more picture.
This is Amie. She has Down Syndrome.
She doesn't look very happy. Maybe she doesn't have a reason to be very happy--or maybe this picture doesn't show how happy she is. There isn't any medical information about Amie. If a family adopted her they could end up with just about anything.
And they would end up with a daughter.