Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Decision to Adopt Child #2

When Fifi was two and half, I started the process to adopt a second child. It really wasn't a difficult decision for me once again. But one thing to keep in mind is there's just not one decision point in adoption. I'd love to hear from parents about how they decided method or program was right for them etc. Since I was single, there weren't as many options available for me. I briefly considered other countries, but I decided without too much fuss, to return to Russia.

I can't rembmer, "deciding" to adopt again. I just always knew I would. The mintue I carried her out that building full of children without families, I knew I'd be back. Maybe not to that particular orphanage, but somewhere.

My friends went on and on about how hard it was to be a mother and how exhausted they were. Outwardly, I commiserated with them, but in secret, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Fifi was an exceptionally easy child. She was calm, well behaved wherever we went and adoreable. I figured my perfect child and easy life must have been due to the fact I was an exceptional mother. :-)

Then God laughed.

It wasn’t until my first trip to meet my son that I realized this wasn’t going to be the cake walk I’d expected it to be. I mean, I was a seasoned professional adopter and mommy. I assumed I had it all figured out.

First of all, the trip to the edge of the world where he lived was brutal and took three days before I finally got to see him. I was exhausted. The nurse appeared alone with the same chubby cherub from the photos I’d received initially, which from my previous experience with my daughter, we were already ahead of the game. She handed him to me, then left us in a room alone. There were no doctors, nurses or social workers to explain medical reports or his social history as there'd been when I met my daughter.

There was only this little solemn baby boy who could barely hold his head up at nearly six months old. I tried to engage him with toys but they just fell from his hands and were of no interest. He didn’t make eye contact and had no spark whatsoever. He was a gorgeous, healthy looking chubby baby but he was entirely without spirit.

The visit was short and eventually he fell asleep near the end. I held him as he slept and felt nothing but an ache in my arms from the weight of him, as I counted the minutes until a nurse would come and take him back to his bed.

On the way back to the hotel the world felt surreal, like were driving though deep water, or Jell-o or something. As we drove along the road skirting the harbor, a warm breeze came though my window and the sun warmed the tears on my cheeks. I didn’t think there was any way he’d ever be okay. But that wasn’t what really worried me. I wasn’t as scared of his potential special needs as I was my shortcomings as a person--as a mother. Being a mom was who I was and how I defined myself as a person. Yet I felt nothing for this child who was supposed to be my son. My heart was as vacant as his eyes.

I called home and with the help of my family, I decided to visit him again the next day. I knew if it still didn’t feel right I could decline his referral and return to Vladivostok and ask to be referred to another child. I was relieved and finally slept.

The next day I visited him again, still feeling numb as I wrapped his little hands around the toys I’d brought and showed him how to shake them. I played with him for over an hour, hoping he’d respond, or at least I would, but there was nothing. I’d decided to decline to adopt him. I would tell my driver when he arrived so he could call the facilitator for me.

There was about five minutes left to go in the visit and I was holding him close to me, nestled against my chest, his forehead slumping against my cheek. My heart was breaking for this child. Earlier that morning, I learned he’d been declined twice before and I knew that Russian Orphans are kind of like baseball players. You only get three strikes. I was his last chance at a family and that weighed heavily on my heart as I rocked him back and forth.

Then, the strangest thing happened. He tilted his head back and looked at me in the eye with his one good one (he had a lazy eye that turned out) and reached for my face with his little chubby hand. For a moment, I felt his sorrow, his pain and his loneliness. But I also felt his hope. He was assessing me, as my boy still does when he comes across something or someone new. In that moment I wanted to be the person who he hoped I was. If nothing else, I didn't want to be yet another person who let him down.

Even though I had planned to tell him good-bye, when the nurse came to take him back to his room I said I’d be back that afternoon.

Back at the hotel after lunch I called home and woke up my Aunt. There was a seventeen hour time difference so communication was difficult. One of the other of us was usually half asleep. Even all these years later I can hear her words still, telling me I couldn’t just leave him there. Telling me to have faith and bring my son home.

I visited him that afternoon and again the next morning. Little by little he began to come out of his shell. Physically he was still as delayed, but he became more curious and played with the toys I’d brought. I was feeling better about his abilities, but worse about my own. I was relieved when they finally came and took him from me and I could start the long journey back home to wait for a court date.

For the first time in my life, I was besieged with doubt. When we potential parents start down this path we have only hope to guide us and faith to sustain us, but I was running low on both. I hoped I was doing the right thing, not so much for me, but for my daughter and ultimately, my son. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to reach him. I was afraid I only thought I could handle two kids, I didn’t know if I could give them both everything they needed and still end up with anything left at the end of the day.

I have always believed that God proved his faith in me by giving me Fifi and I showed my faith in God, by adopting Buddy. Because in the end, the decision came down to faith alone. Faith not only in God, but faith in myself as a mother and as a person who could help this child. I believed God had brought me where he wanted me to be and gave me this child to love as my son. I didn't have same feeling of being sure he was "the one," but I believed God thought he was.

In the end, because of Buddy, I would see the hand of God and witness a new miracle every day. It turns out the love of my life is three feet tall with big brown eyes and lashes I would kill for. I didn't know any of that when I decided to adopt Buddy.

I thank the heavens every day, I do now.

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