So this has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now, as we just celebrated our 4th adoption day on the 15th. Adoption is an interesting thing. A child comes into your life that you have prepared for, prayed for, and have gotten all but giddy over. All the stress and anxiety of paperwork and court hearings end (and to say stress and anxiety is the most grotesque understatement. You are filled with such abundantly profuse amounts of angst and tension that you feel as though you may actually physically implode) and you are finally home with this child that is officially yours. And let me just tell you, the “Yours” part happens with one foul swipe of a judges maillot and that’s it. There is no pomp and circumstance. You are waiting for balloons to fall and a confetti cannon to go off, but they don’t. Sign the dotted line, snap a few pictures, and it’s over. When a child is born into your family It’s like 9 months of preperational party. There are baby showers, and “how is mommy’s”, strange women in grocery stores wanting to touch your belly, and then an endless parade of people waiting to see the baby at delivery. But adoption is different. No one quite knows how to react, and you don’t quite know how to react, there are no strange women in the grocery store, and rarely are there showers for adoptive mothers. So it kind of feels more like a deflated balloon than a celebration…definitely no confetti.
And now here you are with this child, this child that is now yours, and you realize that you don’t just immediately fall in perfect love, with twinkles in your eyes. The magic fireworks that you were expecting to go off (perhaps in the courtroom…when the balloons fell) never do go off, and you are followed with months and months of stumbling. And try, try though you may and as guilty as you feel about it (back breaking mountains worth of guilt that you can barely breath under the weight of), it doesn’t feel the same, not for a long time. This is where it’s hard. Because there is this monster inside your head (and maybe this is just for adoptive mothers with birth kids, I don’t know, it was different for my husband, but this was my reality). And that monster tells you it’s not the same, it tells you that you can’t do this, that you it will never be the same. And it’s everything. When your adoptive child pushes you away (maybe just because she doesn’t want to be tucked in tonight) it feels like personal-permanent rejection, when they have bad days it feels like nature winning over nurture…because you have all this fear. And no one really gets that, just those of us who have walked it.
But that does go away, or at least it mostly goes away. And love does come, equal, full love. I’ve always known I would lay down my life for this baby, but the “she’s completely and totally my kid” part, that took time. And then, all of the sudden it had happened. Still no balloons or confetti, it just slowly happened. And what I’ve decided to realize is, that’s how love works, love takes time. Falling in love with your spouse probably took time. I certainly wouldn’t have laid down my life for Matt after our first date, ya know…it took time. You get 9 months of sacrifice when you are pregnant to fall in love (that’s why it always takes dad’s longer). You still need that time with adoption. For me personally, I needed to fight for her, I needed to call poison control about a dozen times because she kept eating weird things (bubbles, chalk, crayons, deodorant, plants, you name it…she ate it…). I needed to stay up with her when she screamed at night those first several months. I needed to have her pried off of my leg every Sunday- screaming tears flowing down her face, and then I needed to be there to scoop her up afterwards. I needed all of that, because the next thing I knew, I turned around and she was mine. For about a year (maybe a little longer), it felt like I would never get there, but then I did. And now she’s been ours for 4 years. Do I still have those moments of doubt and fear, sure. But I have to remind myself that, that’s all it is…doubt and fear, and that doesn’t make it real.
My story was a little backwards from all of this. It was the child I had to figure out how to be a mom to, then a year and a half later, once she felt like mine (though I feared she wouldn’t get to stay that way), then came the courtroom with no confetti. But, you get the idea…Maybe that helps you, maybe it helps you love someone who is going through this better than you have been, maybe you think I’m crazy, but those are my thoughts for today. Take them or leave them.