These were taken on the first day I met my children-4 years ago. They were not swaddled in a blanket, nor crying, nor desperately needy. No, instead they were little people with a whole slew of experiences I will never be privy to, and will never even know existed. I wanted to post on International Adoption Day about our journey to bring Emi and Richie home. I found myself having a difficult time writing what I really wanted and needed to say.
Adoption is a complex mix of emotions-an intense joy that is born out of the utter devastation of a primordial connection-that between a biological mother and child(ren). I’ve always thought how confusing it must be to know that you are hopeful for a new family but always missing pieces from the original. I got to experience a taste of that through my divorce-a sadness that something was never going to be as it should-but hopeful the future could be full of possibility. Nowhere near the same level, but a small slice of the feeling of being in-between and always feeling a loss of something that cannot be replaced.
Being an adoptive mother, and now a single mother has been the biggest challenge of my life. I thought love would come naturally as I’m told it does the instant you see your biological child; it has not been that way for me. It has been a slow building up (and sometimes I mean very slow). Sometimes it comes in spurts, where I feel like my heart may burst with love, and sometimes it feels like emptiness. It feels like that on days when they miss their bio mom and I (selfishly) wonder if all the love I’m pouring out has been in vain even though rationally I know it’s not true. There have been many obstacles, ones that no matter how many books you read and how much you “prepare” will blow you out of the water. As Kevin tells me, “Read all the books you want-problem is the kids don’t read them!”
I have grown more patient (a quality I was seriously lacking and am STILL working on), I have grown more loving, and have let go of *some* of the control freakiness. The kids have made huge strides in their personal development-anger management, self-confidence, and trust. I think Richie might actually love me now (something I thought might never happen as he would act like I didn’t exist for our first 6 months together).
The idea of the perfect little family I had in my head will never be. We have unique challenges and difficulties most people will never understand, and wouldn’t know how to even if they tried. The therapy, the behavioral issues, the feeling of loss are something we will deal with possibly forever. Kids at school tell them they don’t have real parents and sometimes my kids believe it. There will always be a hole in their hearts and all I can do is fill it with love. One of the hard parts is making sure you fill yourself with love too, as you’re going to be constantly pouring everything you got out.
See, bio kids trust their mom when she says not to do something. They know she will feed them and wants the best for them. My kids still wonder sometimes…they still have the experience that adults lie, and leave, and don’t always have your best interest in mind. I fight that trust battle every day. It is exhausting but rewarding. It is tiring but exhilarating. It is sadness and it is joy. And this to me, is the greatest example of love-fighting for someone who may never love you back-who may always see you as the second mom.
Love and Luck,