What’s it all for? Why must we go through all of this? When is it going to end? Sounds like I am whining but sometimes that is what it feels like. It is difficult with this strange love welling up inside of me for some kid. I don’t know who he is, have never seen him before. Frankly he may not even be born yet. Am I just another one of those nutty adoptive parents?
I read the blogs of prospective adoptive mothers, where they express their desperate desire to have a baby, any baby—give me that baby! It is odd, the idea that some people become so consumed by the desire to have a child that they no longer care that the child already has a mother who may or may not ultimately give up her parental rights. The birth mother’s decision to give up her own child and hand him over to someone else forever has devastating consequences for everyone involved. Still these adoptive women (generally women, but I am sure that there are equally strange responses from prospective fathers) continue to surprise me. Their need to have, at any cost, what the birth-mother has is astounding. I am beginning to recognize emotions in myself that may also be driving these prospective parents to lose their senses. From seemingly out of nowhere there is a driving emotion that I have never experienced before. It is like the natural trigger that I imagine happens as a father or mother learns that in 9 months they are to have a baby. One prospective adoptive mother recently remarked:
Perhaps it is a natural process that happens, much like a hormone in a teenager drives them toward sex, maybe there is the parental chemical that is released into the body driving many people to want children. But when they can’t have their own or they decide for whatever reason to adopt, it then becomes a matter of obtaining a child, often a baby. It then is no longer some quantifiable time-frame where the baby that’s already yours, comes out to join the world after a nine month pregnancy. Instead it is the process of acquisition which at a very base level is what it is. We open our hearts; we open our homes; we have a home study; we pay fees; we go to court—why? Because we want what we can’t have naturally and we do what is necessary to “have a baby.” Instead of there being the emotional charge for said child coursing through your veins for just nine months, the process could be years. In reality there is no determinable end date and in fact there are no guarantees that you will ever “have a baby.” Maybe that is what happens to normal adult women and men. They ache over not having a child; they become passionate about their decision to adopt; there is great anxiety about being selected; they pine to have a new born in their homes; they hope that at birth that the mother will hand over her baby. The mother’s fear is focused on that day in the hospital—there is a fear that she will change her mind and not give me her baby. Give us that baby!
My partner and I are both ready for this to be over. In reality the actual process, for all our moaning seems to be happening fairly quickly—at least the certification process anyway. I think the impatience is due to this build up of emotion with no child to release it on. Maybe that’s what drives some of these adoptive parents to become crazy. They have no outlet for the emotion. It builds like a huge wave that crashes down when they hit obstacles—difficulties with a home study; bureaucracy of a foreign country; unreasonable social workers; and worst of all a mother who changes her mind.
I watched an ABC 20/20 segment on adoption and it was frankly, creepy. They focused on one particular 17-year old birth mother and the adoptive mother that she had selected. After birth the mother was in agony. It was clear that through the months of pregnancy she had grown to love her daughter, even though her decision to give up her child for adoption had been made months earlier. The adoptive mother on the other hand, arrived at the grieving birth mother’s bedside in the hospital. She had brought her own clothes and began to call the child by the name she had selected. It was a troubling scene. She seemed to circle the bed with this strange look on her face, the awkward smile that said she was determined not to leave that hospital without her baby. Give me that baby!
As we continue down this path with Baltimore Department of Social Services, we will not be having the birth mother hand-off in the hospital. I’m not sure I could be in a hospital room watching the pain of a birth mother letting go of her baby. The hand-off will likely take place in our home rather than in the hospital and the child will be in the arms of the social worker rather than the birth mother’s. In the meantime there is a greater awareness of these powerful emotions and their unique ability to drive people beyond the boundaries of normal behavior. I realize that while I have this emotion that might lead me to become anxious and stressed at some point about the progress in our adoption, it will not consume me. We have done the necessary, the rest is beyond our control and there is some comfort in that. Like many things Darrow and I have experienced together, this thing will happen as it is meant to.