Thursday, June 3, 2010

My kids...

Time for another introspective post. Hold on to your seats! You're bound to be swept away by the ramblings :-P


I always saw myself having children. A large family no less. AT LEAST four. Nik and I still agree to that one, though we'll see how we feel after #3 comes home. When I was a child people would talk about careers and futures and while I'd switch from week to week on what I'd want to be (a scientist, an artist, a unicorn) I always, ALWAYS, knew I wanted children.

I don't know why. I don't have any younger siblings and I wasn't particularly close to any children smaller than me. I just... wanted kids. A lot of them. A whole slew of them, running around bare foot and messy, getting into fights, wreaking havoc on my home and sanity, chasing cats and staying up late and driving me bat poop insane. Yup. That is exactly how I envisioned my future, when I envisioned a happy future that I had some control over. No matter what, I wanted children.

In college I met my now husband and we agreed by our second date that we both wanted to some day adopt. He wasn't sure about ever having biological children, "maybe one or two," while I would be happy with a half dozen each. I had such envisionings as myself barefoot and pregnant with an Asian girl on my hip and an African American boy toting a school bag walking by a similarly aged boy who looked just like Nik. Nik wasn't so easily sold on such a dream, and so the compromise was "one or two" by blood, right after marriage, and then when they were a bit older we'd adopt. The final plan was to get pregnant shortly after our wedding, have a healthy baby (I thought it would be a girl), have another a couple years later (I thought it would be a boy), wait until our early to mid thirties then adopt three children in close succession. No clue why I envisioned such a thing, but that was the dream and we were sticking to it.

And then infertility happened.

Of course, it had likely been happening all along. I mean, what are the odds that the second I went of birth control Nik's sperm started to mutate? Not high, I know. We often joked, and still joke, about how much money we spent on birth control for both of us, how careful we were, how many pregnancy tests I took in college "just in case." We don't really joke about those awful six months trying to conceive. If ever there was a time in my life I felt like a complete and absolute failure that was it. I told everyone, EVERYONE, that we were going to have a baby. We were in our early twenties, how could there even be a possibility of infertility? And to have to see their faces when they found out about it... that was the worst part.

Or maybe the worst part was the fact that we'd been so excited and this excitement had transmitted. People knew we wanted to have a bio baby, knew we were trying, knew we were excited and thrilled and so, so in love with this child not yet conceived. It was hard when we told them about our adoption plans because so many didn't want to take us seriously. Surely we couldn't love a child by adoption the same as we would have loved this much sought after bio baby!

And the fact is... for the first several months I shared their sentiments.

I didn't want to adopt.

There, I said it.

I wanted to adopt SOME DAY, sure, but after having my two perfect little bio babies, after having experienced a quick conception, easy pregnancy, and near painless labor. I wanted my dream, dammit, and suddenly we're being inundated with rules and regulations and fees and paperwork, my God the paperwork, and while I knew I'd love this child at the same time I wanted MY OWN baby. And yes, that's what I said at the time which is perhaps why I don't take offense when people use that term and instead try to educate them by using more appropriate terms.

The fact is, I wanted to be a mother, and I knew I'd love a child no matter what, but my heart was breaking. I in no way made peace with infertility during the adoption process. I in no way made peace with my child's bio family either. I saw them as a threat, just as I saw social workers as a threat. I'd have to justify my family to everyone, when I was having trouble justifying it to myself. On top of the guilt about this, there was the jealousy. Why couldn't I have an easy pregnancy like this girl or that? Why couldn't I conceive? Why couldn't I bear a baby? Later it became, Why can't I be the one to bear my child? Why does it have to be another woman's blood running through his veins? Why can't I be his only mother?

Little by little, throughout the process, my heart and mind began to change.

I still wanted a pregnancy some day, and yet... and yet I realized I didn't want it then. I would read the posts on the ePregnancy forum and lightly smile at the positive tests and birth stories. Then I'd read about people on getting "the call" or their gotcha days and my eyes would water and I'd be choking on sobs. Yes, truly, my heart was actually with adoption all along.

And then we read the clause in our paperwork (one of many of course) and found that if we miraculously became pregnant during the adoption process we'd have to concede our spot in line, or even our referral. My heart stopped. I... I just couldn't... not my child... no, no I would not lose a child to a pregnancy!!! I went back on the pill.

And then came that wonderful day when I finally got the call about Paxton, knew his name and age and had a picture and even a bit of his backstory. And then they told me that his first mother had died...

I was like a lead hammer to the face. I knew that was likely, it was one of the reasons we chose that program and agency, the fact that they worked with true orphans. I thought it was better for all involved: the child would be truly in need of a home and we'd never have to worry about their loyalties being split.

And yet, hearing that she'd died... it broke my heart in a way I'd never expected. I've never met this woman, don't know what she looks like or just about anything about her. But I loved her. I loved her because she was the mother of my child. And suddenly, the world of the bio family opened up to me and I realized that instead of fearing them, I LOVED them, all of them. It was like an extra chamber was built onto my heart that day.

The first year with Paxton was... well, not totally awful. We did a lot of bonding, a lot of healing, a lot of hugging and kissing and cuddling and loving. I know I talk about how rough it was, and oh God it was rough, but still we had some truly wonderful moments every day and we, all of us, grew a lot as people and as a family.

When it came time to adopt our second I still held a bit of the jealousy. I wanted to nurse, I wanted to raise an infant, I wanted... well, I still wanted the dream, though not nearly as badly.

And I got it. We ended up with the perfect child for our family, a sweet, bubbly, happy little bean who could draw milk out of a brick wall. The craving, that need to hold a child with my DNA, has all but disappeared from the second he was placed in our arms.


So that... was a prelude. An opening. An explanation of how I got to this new train of thought.

It occurred to me last night (not for the first time) that I am, obviously, not my children's only mother. Very likely I'll never give birth to a child genetically mine meaning that I'll NEVER be the only mother for ANY of my children.

And this used to... bother me some. It used to make me sad. It used to tug at my heart. I used to lay awake at night and wonder if they'd even still call me "mom" once they hit adulthood. I worry that they'll leave and never look back, that we'll raise them up to grown men and women and they'll just... leave. Just head out and say "we don't need you anymore, you were never our real parents anyway."

It's a common fear I know, one that generally proves untrue, and yet.. it's still there. I still think about it. I'm pretty certain that with enough kids we'll "lose" at least one this way.

But the fact is... I don't care.

I don't care if they use me.

I don't care if they leave me.

I don't care... so long as they are happy.

And this thought... surprises me. Because, you see, I'm really not a selfless person.

And yet at the same time, I think so long as we raise our children right, so long as we help guide them along the path to who they're meant to be, as long as we encourage and love and raise and guide, so long as they end up being content adults... I think as much as it would kill me I could find peace in them leaving me, them calling another woman "mom," them calling me "Megan," them calling once a year or less. It tears at my heart and chokes up my throat but I think I could do it. For them.

I may not be their only mother, but they are still my children, my OWN children, my REAL children, and my God do I love them...

1 comment:

Mrs.Tiye said...

This was an amazing post Megan! Thanks so much for it and the honesty of it.