This post is part of the ChicagoNow monthly collective “blogapalooza” wherein one topic is presented at 9 p.m. and bloggers are afforded one hour to write their little blogger hearts out, publishing whatever they have by 10 p.m. Today’s topic:
Write about a great challenge faced by you, by someone else, by an entity, at any point in the past or in the future.
Eleven weeks ago today I stood in a labor and delivery room and watched another woman birth her child, who is now my child. What kind of riddle is this?, you ask. This is no riddle, my friend, this is adoption.
Rewind to four months earlier. A bright young woman connected with my husband and I through our aptly named Facebook page, “Sheila and Jeremy Want to Adopt.” She was pregnant, already mothering, and in no position (her words, not ours) to raise another child. We talked. We communicated. We connected. A few days later we learned that we were the ones — the family she wanted to raise her child.
I still, when I stop to think about it, have trouble wrapping my brain around this.
Caring for a baby comes easily to me. The fact that this child and I do not share DNA or deep genetic codes appears to have had no ill effect whatsoever on my maternal bonding. There is something about this stage in life that is supremely primitive. A baby’s needs are simple and consuming: food, warmth, shelter, protection, love. I stare into my baby’s deep blue eyes and the uterus he grew in, the sperm that fertilized the egg, seem not so important.
Except they are. They are very important and always will be.
Our son will always have two mothers and two fathers. We can slice and dice it ten ways to Sunday, but this basic truth will never change. Somehow, someway, circumstances led to one man and one woman conceiving and birthing this baby and one man and one woman parenting and providing for this baby, our baby.
I remember so clearly standing in front of a crowd of hundreds at our daughter’s memorial service eulogizing the life of my oldest child. My parting words to these hundreds of folks was the assurance that we, my husband and I, would “figure it out,” somehow and someway. We were charged, for better or worse, with the task of figuring out how to live a life moving forward that would no longer involve the day-to-day care of our child.
The parallels between our loss and the loss of our son’s Birth Mother do not escape me. She, too, is charged with the call to “figure it out,” and move forward in her life that will not include the day-to-day care of her child. There is tremendous loss attached to adoption, as well as tremendous joy and hope.
Our grief and comfort with our grief was something that our son’s Birth Mother was attracted to as she carefully vetted couples to raise the child growing inside her. She clearly told us that she believed our own experience with great loss would help us understand and empathize with her own impending loss. We agreed. It’s true, you see. Experiencing deep loss, like that of a child, is a life altering experience. It hardens you, it softens you. You evolve by accommodating the loss, or you don’t. If you don’t evolve, if you don’t accept the loss, you stagnate. That is no kind of life to have, most especially if you are parenting.
So here we are, eleven weeks in to our child’s life. He smiles at us, he eats like a farmer after harvest, he relies on us for everything. We change him, soothe him, bathe him, love him. We are blessed. To know this particular joy again, of infancy and firsts, well, I have no words. I am a lucky freaking lady.
But our son’s story started before those first bottles and first diapers and first smiles. His story started in a state we had never even visited. He’s been places, our boy, literally, figuratively, and metaphorically. When we adopted him, we entered a sacred pact with his Birth Mom — one, I believe, that is even more sacred than marriage. There is no divorce with adoption, no do overs, no “starter” childhoods.
We have committed our lives to this child, just as we have to our two others before. And the trust that our son’s Birth Mom has placed in us? Well, I have no words. That level of trust is beyond words for me. At least right now. Maybe someday they will come to me. In the meantime, I will change a diaper and wipe a nose and fold a onesie and warm a bottle and tickle a foot and buckle a car seat and love and love and love and love.