I struggled with sitting down to write this entry, mostly because I feel as though I am doling out criticism to the community that has so warmly embraced our decision to adopt. Please believe me: this is not my intention.
When we first started to share our adoption news, it was with trepidation. It was like opening up a very private box to the world. Luckily, we were avalanched with love and support. I am truly honoured to be a part of this amazing community of friends and family.
I know it’s hard to know what to say when someone says they are adopting. For many, it’s unfamiliar terrain. There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll blurt it out: there are some statements I know are well-meaning and intentioned, that can do more harm than good.
“You really need to visit my….(insert naturopath, homeopath, therapist, etc.). I promise you can get pregnant”
I get these in my inbox and it is a toughie. I know you are trying to help. Generally speaking, I take the details and quietly move on. I know it is coming from a good place. However, after awhile this advice hurts. I’ve been told by people very close to me that we are giving up hope. How can I respond?
I suppose with honesty – Hope is what we live and breathe these days.
We grieved our infertility, but never gave up. Now we are really damn excited about adoption. As in every single day is like waiting for Christmas. So please don’t be offended if I don’t try a recommended therapy or diet.
“As soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant”
You hear of these stories – someone adopts and they become pregnant at the same time; a woman thinks she is infertile and menopausal, but *SURPRISE!* she’s pregnant.
People know these stories because they are anomalies. These are not our story.
Should we happen to get pregnant, it will be a welcome blessing in our home. However, right now, we are adopting. We have this huge, aching, space in our hearts while we wait for our child to come home. Trust me, that is more than enough to keep us busy.
“Lori, I know people who adopted – and their child did…(insert terrible story with knives, mutilated pets, drugs, or police.)”
Okay, this is one where I have to add my “unique” sense of humour….the Horrible Adoption Story (or what we adoptive parents refer to as HAS). I hate to tell you this little secret – adopted and biological children both do screwed up things. When I was a kid, I peeled the eyes off of my dolls so they couldn’t watch me sleep.
The reality is our gene pool could use a little bleach. Am I concerned my child will do something weird? Not really. Mostly because I think all kids go off the rails at some point. It’s part of learning. What’s important is guiding them back, being engaged, and holding tight. That’s parenting.
“Maybe something is saying you just shouldn’t be parents”
Well, isn’t that just a charming kick in the teeth? I imagine some Buddha/God/Karmic soul sitting there in the celestial realm yelling, “No BABY for YOU!”
I ignored this comment.
Rereading this, I really hope that I don’t sound ungrateful. I knew by starting this blog that I would be putting on display a lot of emotions. I also knew it would solicit feedback. And I want there to be healthy debate about adoption. 50 years ago, adopted children weren’t even told they were adopted! Dialogue is critical.
So what am I trying to say? I guess that I want adoption to be seen as a legitimate way to build a family. It’s not a default or a compromise. Perhaps we are naïve. I’m okay with that. I need to believe.
In fact, I need our child to know this, more than anything else.
I’ve never been a big television watcher, with the exception of two addictions: Coronation Street (25+ years’ devotee) and documentaries. If there’s a David Attenborough feature on, I’m done for the next hour.
A few weeks back, I came across a documentary on penguins. This one was a feature on one lone penguin wandering about the ice in Antarctica. The deal was either she hadn’t found a mate, or for unknown reasons, she wasn’t able to lay any eggs.
Biology is a pretty persuasive thing and this penguin just wasn’t going to give up. She got it into her head that she could do a few things to ensure she had a baby penguin of her own. She settled herself onto other nests when parents weren’t looking; she casually stole an egg out of another nest. When these efforts failed, she built her own nest, stealing whatever she could, and defiantly sat on it long after all of the other baby penguins had hatched.
A few strange things have happened the past few months. It started slowly with rearranging closets, decluttering…then I bought a home steam cleaner and I was a woman on a mission; sanitizing nooks and crannies, scrubbing and ironing, wiping and folding. At times, it was all consuming.
Yes, I have become that deranged penguin.
I’ve been very lucky that so many of my close friends have let me into their children’s’ lives. So no, I have never had to resort to contemplating kidnapping (and don’t plan to, just in case our social worker is reading this blog!). Being an honourary aunt has been an extreme joy in my life. I don’t take my responsibilities lightly.
Still, at times like Christmas, I am raw. It’s a magical holiday for children and while I am embarrassed to admit it, sometimes I don’t even know how to carry my own limbs, because they don’t have anyone to hug or hold on to. I’m uncomfortable and lost. Yes, there’s wonderful Martin and my amazing parents, but it’s impossible to get motivated to decorate or put up a tree. I just don’t want to.
So what do I do instead?
Well, I’ve already spectacularly blown my gift budget on the amazing “nephews” and “nieces” in my life. I regret no expenseJ Writing each card and wrapping each gift reminds me of how blessed we are to know them.
I observe a lot. I see other families and find myself goofily smiling at other children in snowsuits and mittens. I spend time with my great friends (parents and non-parents alike) who even when they can’t understand all of this adoption miasma, still graciously pour a glass of wine and a laugh. I’m grateful.
Still, that penguin doesn’t just go away. I can’t stop waiting. I keep hoping, with my mind stuck halfway around the world.
So if I’m withdrawn over the holidays, it’s not you. I’m nesting.
**Post Script from Martin – he posted this in the comments, but it is worth a highlight – this is what we will look like when we get to adopt…http://www.myamazingearth.com/2012/12/the-happiest-penguin-ever/ **