Friday, August 9, 2013

And then there were three...

There's a reason it's called a "Three Ring Circus".  Two are not as interesting or difficult - as far as circuses go.  As far as children are concerned, two are enough to make life both of the above.  But (!) you'll hit your sweet spot of sweet yet independent children a little sooner.  Once you throw in number three, you are back to square one, and you have to go to zone defense, as opposed to man-to-man coverage.

Because Anna is so well developed cognitively, people sometimes forget how physically disabled she is.  When she's sitting at a table and everyone has finished their snack or assignment and gotten down to go play, adults in the room are like - "Oh, crap!  Anna's still sitting there.  Are you done Anna?" - Usually not, because this child does everything in her own sweet time.  She is teaching us ALL patience.  And I'm okay with that.  She has highlighted everything that has made me a wretched and selfish individual in the 35 years leading up to her coming into our family.  And I am better now for it.

So we have Addie (the hare), Anna (the tortoise), and Asher...whose personality remains to be seen.  He is laid back, smiles all - ALL - the time, entertains himself with toys, sleeps when we want him to almost all the time.  But I can already tell his wheels are turning.  He wants everything he sees on a table.  He doesn't want to sit or lay down.  He wants to stand. (HE'S SIX MONTHS OLD!) I see him having his daddy's adventurous personality.  "Let's try THIS!"  I can only hope I am woman enough to keep up with him.

For adoptive or hopeful adoptive parents who have read my blog in the past - on the off chance that you become one of the 65% of infertile adoptive parents who conceive post-adoption, like us, here's a glimpse into the psychology and theology of parenting both kind of children.

With your adopted child, there was so much work involved in the paperwork process that it felt like a pregnancy.  Great expectations, shopping for what? A girl? A boy? Twins? Preparing a bedroom, setting up toys in little vignettes like you worked for FAO Schwartz....It consumed you.  Once you were home, regardless of the age, there were sleepless night.  You fretted over things like vaccines, booboos, discipline, routines, feeding.  All the things a birth mother worries about.  But when things weren't going as smoothly as you had dreamed they would, you secretly wondered: "Would this have been easier if these were my biological children?  Would there be some genetic code that made them obey me more, or help them give and receive affection better?"

And you felt guilty for thinking that way, but it couldn't be helped.  Bonding and attachment are hard.  You have to work at it.

When you found out you were pregnant, you were so excited.  Then you were nervous that you would feel different.  And you immediately felt guilty for being so excited and already feeling different toward this child.  How can you let your adopted children know how special they are to you?  How can you let yourself know that you will not love them any less or this child any more?  Can you understand what your mother told you about her relationship with each of her children (when you asked her who was her favorite because you suspected it wasn't you...)?  "I don't love any one of you more than the other.  I just love each of you differently."

When that baby was laid in your arms for the first time, and you saw his daddy's chin, and your nose, and your daddy's eyes, you were overwhelmed with the melding of generations.  You were holding your past, present, and future in that one little bundle.  And you were instantly in love.  That did not happen the first time.

And you feel a little guilty again.

When you breastfeed for the first time, and he curls his little fist around your finger, you lose yourself in an infatuation that you remember feeling the first time you realized you had found your true love in the man you married.  When he cries and is instantly comforted by your voice, you understand it's because he has heard it for nine months already.  He knows you instantly.  He smiles in his sleep when he smells you.  His love for you is already so strong.  It took so long to feel that and receive that with your adopted children.

And you feel a little guilty again.

But then you realize you chose to love those adopted children.  Before they could love you back.  Before they understood the lengths you went to for them.  Before they ran to you after falling down.  Before you even knew what it meant to really be a mother.  It was unmerited.  It was unconditional.  It was sacrificial.  It was God-sized.

And when you listen to your adopted child speak, you hear your own voice.  You see a reflection of your smile in her eyes as you tickle her on the bed.  You watch her display a tenacious spirit as she tries for the fourth or fifth time to put her own clothes on in the morning.  And you know when she hugs you and says, "You're the best mommy ever!" she means it, because you put the work in.  You did the hard thing.  And your love for her really is as strong as it is for the little bundle sleeping in his playpen in the corner.  It may not have come as easily or as quickly, but it is a ferocious, relentless, pursuit reminiscent of the Love that pursued you to make you a child of God.  A child born not of natural descent, or of the will of the mother and father, but born of the Spirit.

And you feel grateful.

1 comment:

Marcia said...

Very well put. Made me cry.