May 12 2013
A very long time ago, before I was a mother or married or even dating anyone seriously, I had a recurring daydream. In it, there was a little girl next to me, and I couldn’t see it in the dream, but I knew we were meant to discover the world together. How we met, what we did, and where we lived, those questions weren’t answered in my daydream.
There was only one thing I knew for sure–the little girl next to me, she didn’t grow in my belly.
Maybe it’s wrong of me to call this a dream. After all, I never lusted after motherhood even after it became socially acceptable for me to be a mother. Perhaps it’d be more accurate if I referred to this as a vision.
Confession: Sometimes when I get sick and tired of the middle-class motherhood life I’ve found myself sucked into and all the things we continually fret about–milestones, our parenting “mistakes,” what this or that expert said, to work or stay home, domestic helper woes, playground/playgroup politics, the best brands, the right toys, and, particularly for us here in Singapore, the worthiest schools–I take off and immerse myself in a different world, one inhabited by adoptive parents. I’ve wept over “birth” stories, followed long waits, and tried to understand what attachment issues are, how they manifest themselves, and how they can result in the worst adoption outcome of all, disruption. (More adoption stories here and almost 50 more attachment-related stories here, if you’d like to read them too.)
Another confession: This may sound ridiculous coming from someone who only steps into church once a year, at Christmas, but I believe in God. Or at least I want to. And I believe he puts signs in our way and people in our path for a reason.
Recently I got to know a mother who runs a home in China for abandoned children with birth defects or lifelong health problems. We haven’t talked much about the home or the kids, but she sent me a link to a blog by a mother who’s adopted not one, but two kids from her home. The mom blogger seems like a private person so I’m hesitant to share the link here, but you can leave a message for me if you’d like to read it too.
In the past couple of days I’ve been learning new words like “exstrophy” and “colostomy.” I’ve been reading about what life is like when you have one child who toilets through bags, and another who needs a wheelchair, but is making remarkable progress towards walking independently. I’m reading about how baths for two can take up to two hours. I’m reading about hospital visits every month and near-death experiences. I’m reading about how grandparents feel when you announce these will be their new grandkids. I’m reading about kids who’re afraid they won’t see you again after their fourth birthday because they’ve already experienced so much loss in their short lives, and kids who’re afraid to tell you when they hurt and are even more fearful of what you might do to them when you discover they’ve puked on their clothes or wet the bed.
I started to ask myself if I could parent–or more specifically, love–a kid that was less than perfect on the surface. My honest answer? Not at once, but over time. Exactly the same way as it was for both my biological kids.
So yesterday I broached the subject with my husband, who like me views parenthood as a responsibility, not a fantasy. This is the guy who has flinched whenever I’ve brought up the subject of adoption. “We didn’t even want to be parents in the first place! Let’s just raise these two kids well and get our lives back!” I casually told him about how, if he made good money off his real estate career, we could consider adopting a “waiting child.”
Shockingly, my husband said yes.
Later in the evening, I headed out for my daily park walk with Z and spotted the faintest rainbow. I haven’t seen a rainbow in years.
Right now, it’s an idea and nothing more. We barely have enough money for ourselves, so I’m going to let this idea simmer. But you know what? I’m more than a tiny bit excited about the possibility of expanding our family in this way. We can make room for one more. Alf and I are no dream couple and there’s no guarantee we’ll even pass a home study, but we want the same things deep down and we can get on the same team to make something happen. I know we’ll falter and wonder to ourselves why we got into this in the first place. And I know we can count on our community to support us when we most need it, because we’ve always been surrounded by love.
Now let me tell you this, I’m not noble and I’m not trying to fake it either. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, physically or emotionally. I don’t think of myself as maternal and on some days I’m as good as rubbish with my two kids, who’re as healthy as can be. But what I think I am is a little bit crazy, because a voice in my head is starting to say, “You can do this.” This, meaning plunge into a world of parenting with no guarantees for a child’s health, her future, our finances, how she’ll fit into the family, if she can love us in the way we expect to be loved, if we can love her the way she deserves. So many uncertainties. It’s almost liberating, because I think we bog down typical (i.e. biological) parenthood with our expectations.
The only reason I’m posting this is so that if you’ve had a voice in your head about adoption too, you’ll have some links to click on today. Maybe it’ll be your “sign.”
Happy Mother’s Day. :)
p.s. I haven’t checked the paper yet, but a girlfriend told me there’s a major feature about adoption today!