My biggest fear is not that she would want him back but that he would want to go.
I remember the day we went to "pick up" our son like it was yesterday; just like I remember the days my daughter and youngest son were born. All three were head-popping exciting and all three were joyous, but the first was very different, but perhaps not in the obvious way.
My wife and I were married for 10 years before my oldest son came along and we went through years of medical tests and processes and then waiting for a our names to come to the top of the adoption list. It was very hard for my wife, and each time a friend or sibling had a child it was bitter-sweet. I knew my wife was tremendously happy for the mother-to-be each time a pregnancy was announced, but I also knew how it broke her heart as well.
We were young and in all other ways enjoying our lives, and while I did want to have a child, the initial medical failures and the later anxiety and waiting during the adoption process bothered me most because it hurt my wife so much. When we got "the call" I was very happy, but my wife was ecstatic. It was a great day if only because of her reaction.
Even after they notified us, they wanted us to wait another month so that he could have a hernia repaired. Why they felt it was so important to give us a "repaired" baby rather than allowing us to take care of him and the hernia, I'll never know. During that last month, though, when I knew the time had come and we would be welcoming a baby into our home, I thought about a lot of things that just didn't attract much focus when it was still a hypothetical. What I thought of the most was how I would feel when I first saw him, and I began to worry that I might not feel anything because of the absence of a biological bond.
As the days passed, it transformed from a question to a fear. My wife was so overjoyed I didn't want to spoil it for her by discussing my doubt so I said nothing and it gnawed away. When the final few days came my fear of not feeling any emotion grew and what should have been a time filled with happy anticipation became days filled with dread.
I did a good job of keeping it from my wife, but I was pretty much a wreck during the drive over to the adoption center. Once we started walking down the hall to the room where he was waiting,though, all the emotion drained away and I felt only numb. It was much worse.
However, when we walked through the door and saw him sitting there, everything instantly changed. I looked at his face and the doubt was completely gone. The fear though exploded, but now it wasn't about how I would feel, it was how he
would. It was an amazing, immediate shift from fearing that I could not love him to being even more afraid that he might not love me. And as really afraid as I was, I felt wonderful.
He was just shy of 5 months and I was sure that he would be crying since he had been taken from the woman who had been his mother all this time and was by himself with strangers. Instead, he was completely quiet, his little face heart-breakingly sad, and he wouldn't look at anyone. He kept turning away from us, as we called him by his new name, and tried to make him smile.
He was just as quiet and withdrawn the whole time we were at the adoption center and for the whole ride to my wife's parent's house. We spent the whole time, though, talking to him in the way that adults talk to babies, and if he could feel the love we both instantly felt for him, he was bathed in it.
When we got my in-laws house, we brought him inside and for the first ten minutes or so he still wouldn't look at anyone. Then for some reason that I can't explain he looked at me. I took the opportunity to make a funny face and playfully talk to him and he smiled. It was among the best moments of my life and there was such a feeling of relief and happiness I started to cry...which he thought was funny and he laughed. From there on in it was as if he had always been with us. For the way I felt and the way he reacted to us.
The births of my other two children were truly fantastic; like out-of-body experiences and they were the other two best moments of my life, but the moment with my oldest son was so different and so special. A lot of people feel sorry for adopted parents, probably because, like me, they can't imagine bonding with "someone else's child," but it really was such an amazing and wonderful experience that I feel blessed to have been able to have it in my life.
But as much as I feel absolutely no different about him than I do the other two, there has always remained some small measure of the doubt and fear I had when I first saw him. My younger children have no choice, they're from our bodies, they have to love us, but my oldest son has a choice.
A bit of irrational thinking all the way round, but it's there. After 32 years we couldn't be more lucky though because he's never availed himself of the choice, and the second I saw him I had no choice.
When you adopt a child you join a special club, and almost instantly you find all of the other adoptive parents who you've been living near or working with for years. This phenomenon seems to happen quite a lot with people who share an uncommon experience, and especially if it is an experience that is generally misunderstood by those who have not had it. I'm sure there are plenty of bad adoptive parents and I'm not even close to being the perfect parent, but I've generally found that adoptive parents appreciate the love they have for their children more than other parents. This is in no way to suggest that they love their children more than other parents, because I don't, at all, believe that to be the case. it just means that perhaps they think about it more. For those who have gone a long time wondering if they would ever have children it's something they are less inclined to take for granted.
In any case, this is a long winded way of acknowledging the empathy I have for boomer and it's been great vicariously sharing her success and sense of relief, and, in a strange way, her worries and frustrations.
I'm not someone who places any great value in A2K as a "community" but it certainly has felt that way on this thread.
Now I'm off to continue fighting on political threads. If I stay in this one any longer I'll lose my edge...