Yesterday it felt like the biggest mistake of my life...
We adopted 2 children. They came to us through the foster care system. I championed the process and lead the charge. After having one birth daughter at 37 followed by a rough bout with post-partum depression, it seemed like the clearest choice.
No offense but we weren’t going to be one of those couples that only wanted a perfect little white baby fresh from the vagina of a young white trash girl from the mid-west.
And in all our overweight queerness, no one in the Chinese government was going to hand over one of their precious little cast off girls to us without major deceit and weight loss.
So we went with the scratch and dent collection from right in our own backyard.
I feared that I would not love them like I love my birth daughter. I love her with such ferocity and passion that it seems as if I might burst from the feelings. I talked openly about this with my therapist, my partner and tons of others. I reassured myself with my internal voice that I of course would be able to love them, but in the back of my brain that doubt still existed.
NOTE: We are only 18 months into this journey so that voice is still in the back of my head as I write this. The one that says in time I will love them like I love my birth daughter or at least a VERY close second.
So they came to us. In rapid succession, one after the other. not related completely not in the plan. We said ONE small child under 2 years. We got two larger children. One boy almost 6 (Panchito) and the other 15 months but huge for her age (Baby Dinosaur). We said yes, because I told myself to say yes to whatever the universe presented.
The way we ended up with two within 45 days of each other is complex and I will fill that hole in another time. Just know that we were fucking crazy for a few months and thought that adopting two hugely traumatized kids out of a cesspool of trauma and dysfunction was an idea that made sense for about just enough time to not be able to go back and change that decision.
They came, we marched forward. Patching up our wounds as we went. Patching up the wounds on our birth daughter as she adjusted to life with two siblings that appeared in her life carrying with them many lifetimes worth of baggage and pain. We lived through our exhaustion and the unbelievable strain on our nervous systems. And we marched. Forward through home studies, through court hearings, battling the possibility of fucked up biological extended families taking them away from us. Marching as we filled our calendars with 18+ hours of therapy a week for the whole family. We marched through a new world of IEPs, Attachment Therapy, Speech Delays, IQ testing, and the mysterious world of kids born addicted to drugs.
We fought like we never have fought before as a couple, we have hated each other through the process, each being at different places at different times. We have had tons of different sleeping configurations. We have fought to maintain the sanctity of our family of three as it grew into a family of 5 overnight. We have drained our bank account over and over, shaking our heads at our own idiocy that we didn’t really have any thought as to how expensive it would be to add two kids to the family, we just fucking did it.
We made decisions that required tons more sleep and higher reasoning ability than we had when we made them. We sat in awe at the complete fucked-up-ness of the child social welfare, foster and adoption systems in our country. And we marched through the final days before the adoptions were final. We marched through wanting to change our mind about this decision many times. We marched right up in front of the judge and held up our right hand and through tears (which were much more complex than simple joy) pledged to love these two children as our own.
And so that was 2 months ago. And yesterday I was still pretty sure I had made the worst decision of my life.
And it isn’t simple.
Our kids are amazing. Our adopted son and daughter are pretty darn normal. No giant developmental or behavioral issues. Our son stutters and is a bit behind in reading and overall EVERYONE who meets him loves him. He is a joy.
Our daughter (Baby Dinosaur) is a force of nature. She is boisterous, stubborn and smarter than I am. Her brain is insane and I am pretty sure she is either going to go to Harvard or prison. Both places are known to attract those with genius, just depends on how it all plays out.
They both have huge loss, abuse, neglect and trauma in their experience. It shows up and it is hard. My son is one of 6 bio children and came into foster care malnourished and covered in bruises from physical abuse. My daughter’s birth parents were both dead before she was 2.5 through murder and suicide. It ain’t pretty people AND they are thriving.
Even with all the trauma and loss they show up everyday as pretty normal kids. My feelings that I have made a mistake is not because of their “difficult behavior”. They aren’t smearing poop in their hair or lighting my house on fire. (God bless the parents who adopt those kids because there are a lot of them - but that is an entirely other blog entry) And say a prayer that mine don’t take a sudden turn and take up these type of hobbies.
The reason I still have days when this is the worst decision of my life is because this is the fucking hardest thing I have ever done and adoption isn’t a fucking jaunt through a field of pansies, even when it is easier than the horror stories. It has been extremely hard for me to love a child I didn’t give birth to. I want to always with all my being, but it just doesn’t happen overnight and some days I don’t know if it ever will.
I am just telling the truth. These truths are whispered amongst mothers like myself who also had that moment of insanity which got them their kids from someone else’s vagina. They are whispered on tearful sobbing phone calls and on web forums posted anonymously.
The truth is that I am trying with my whole heart everyday. I am doing my best to care for them and help them thrive and I parent the shit out of them in all ways I can. And I still have those days when I feel like I made the biggest mistake of my life.
There isn’t a neat tidy way to wrap up this post. Only to say that today (the day after yesterday’s day of regret) I don’t regret my decision and today the love meter climbed a little higher and I will march on. :)