When I decided to adopt one of my biggest fears was “What if I don’t love the child?”
As shallow and selfish this may sound this is really how I felt. As much as I have a passion for children I also know that there are some kids I have just never connected with. I love my nieces and nephews, I assumed because they are bio too. Perhaps I should say, there I some kids I FEEL less affection for than others.
Of course this didn’t apply to my bio kids, and I assumed that it was a genetic thing. My daughters came from me and looked like me so therefore love was the default and natural emotion. The love I have for them is so vast, but honestly I thought it was a genetic thing.
Now, I know I am disregarding the true love that adoptive parents had for their kids. Did I think they were lying to themselves and me? Well that’s the thing… Not at all… I just thought it takes a very special person (whom I am not. I am just a regular person) to be an adoptive parent and love the child.
True to my style I then researched “love” and it’s meaning, what it means to love etc etc.
I think I convinced myself we would be on a “learn to love” basis.. Ok that I could do.. I would learn to love my adopted child. Yes, that sounded ok to me… Because a lot of people don’t bond with their own bio new born babies immediately … So perhaps that is how it is with adopted kids. Yes, I admit I never had a bonding problem with my girls, but they were bio… So perhaps I could be like the moms who ease into the love and can’t bond instantly.
Ok that helped me to accept that I would love my adopted child. “Slowly but surely I would learn to love”
Christopher 3 weeks old The first time I met Christopher he was 3 weeks old. I didn’t know about him before then.
We were at our alternative parenting course and the conversation went like this:
Social worker: “I want you to know that I will only give you a baby when everything is 100% finalized with the bio mom, ok?”
Me: ” You have never been quite so specific with me, I sense something is up, is there a baby now?”
Husband (who was with me says to social worker): “You know you can’t say things like that to Bev and not explain… She won’t sleep for a week trying to figure it out” #Truestory
Social worker” “Ok, yes, there is a baby but mom hasn’t signed off properly yet.”
Me: “Is the baby here?”
Social worker: “Uhmmm.. Yes”
Me: “In the baby house?”
Social worker” “Bev nothing is finalised”
(Listen,.. MY child is in the baby house a few meters away from me… WHAT?)
(And to save me heartache I must stay away in case mom changes her mind and I get hurt. NO no.)
Me to the social worker: “I will wait until we are finished the workshop for the day but I am going to see him this evening. I understand that it isn’t finalised but I need to see him”
After the workshop had finished I walked mindfully and somewhat calmly into the baby house.
I knew I had to be careful. I was not naive to that. These are real raw feelings we are dealing with. And I know I had my husband and daughter to consider.
I wasn’t allowed to spend a long time with him. (The social worker was keeping a strict eye on me, for my own benefit)
Christopher had the biggest sparkly eyes – so alert. But he was TINY, so so thin… Painfully thin actually… But his eyes, there was something about his eyes.
I held him for a long time looking into his eyes..
Look, it isn’t that romantic, because while looking into his eyes I had the other crawling babies pulling our pants screaming for attention too…luckily Tim took time with the toddlers … But we couldn’t stay very long, and we had to go and fetch our daughter as it was getting late.
I went home… Spoke to no one about him but I couldn’t get his eyes out of mind. I knew that I had to control my emotions because the paperwork had not been finalised, and something could easily change.
Anyway, I thought to myself, I might also be “forcing this love ” and his eyes probably looked so big and piercing because he was so thin and that is why I kept thinking about them.
And. As it does with adoption … The wait (and weight) continues ..
I did call the social worker a lot asking if they had heard from Christopher’s biological mom yet. I wanted find out if there was any news and if baby was OK. But I didn’t go back to visit. I couldn’t do that to myself and my family. It’s too traumatic for all of us if it doesn’t work out.
But I did keep phoning 😉
The one day I decided not to phone is the day I got the call.
At first I couldn’t register who was on the phone (bearing in mind it has always been me phoning), so to receive a call was very different.
Low and behold my social worker told me that my son was ready She said he had been very sick (luckily I didn’t know this) and that she thinks he needs to get out of the home ASAP because she thinks he is in distress.
I visited him for the next two days (I got the call on a Wednesday), and on the Friday we fetched him – granny, cousins, aunty, sister and daddy in tow.
Did the effect of his eyes stay that potent – YES, his eyes told me he was part of my soul.
The fear of loving him…what happened?? I loved him instantly. I honestly did. This is not me trying to love him, I really felt that close affinity for him. I was relieved, I really was.
But as it happens with me I started worrying that perhaps I wouldn’t love him one day when he wasn’t cute. Maybe I was fooling myself – because I FELT like I loved him, but we have all thought we have loved before and actually it wasn’t love…and so my mind rationalises and tries to figure out all types of scenarios.
But life and caring for babies carries on. We dote on this little boy all day every day. The dogs are so jealous (and tiring) and the love question comes up now and again, but too busy “loving him” to really think about it much.
But yesterday something BIG happened, something so profound. I realised for the first time without doubt that I DO LOVE HIM.
Carmen’s (my daughter) friend was visiting and her friends’ mom came to fetch her. Carmen and friend were out in the park so the friends’ mom came inside and asked about Christopher while fetching her daughters’ bags.
We went to fetch Christopher and she was holding him and playing with him, while we were waiting for the girls to come back.
I have to mention the friends’ mom is perfectly groomed, one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever seen. I was suffering with a migraine – baby milk all over me, hair all over the place, so I suppose that in it-self would have made me feel a bit insecure. However that wasn’t the problem, the problem was the way Christopher was staring at this woman. He was staring at her in absolute awe and love. He was smiling and gurgling. At first I thought it was sweet, but I had a funny feeling in my tummy…I looked at the friends’ mom and saw how beautiful she was. She is also black and all at once I started thinking Christopher would prefer a black mom, he is looking at her with so much love. My anxiety levels heightened. I am thinking, “What have I done?”, “Have I deprived this child of a black mom?”
All I wanted was to get Christopher back and this mom to leave. I thought it might be because she was so pretty, or because she was black. Ok, perhaps she smelt nice. All these things were going through my mind but mostly it was “What if I have done Christopher a disservice by giving him a white mom?”
So the friend and mom left and I had to get supper going. I mention to Tim (my husband) that the mom is very pretty. I then fold and say “You should have seen how Christopher was looking at her, do you think it is because she is black?”
Tim gave me a funny look and I carried on with dinner.
Lying in bed, putting Christopher to sleep, I thought to myself,” When have I felt like this before?”
In my calmer state I realised that Christopher doesn’t know his colour yet, he has no idea that he is different to me, it cannot be that but “When have I felt like this before?”
AND ..THEN…BAM… it hit me like a wave…When a boyfriend/husband has looked at someone else in that “way” I felt like I am feeling now. And then I realised what I am feeling is jealousy. I am JEALOUS. I was feeling so jealous.
And when I feel jealous it is because I LOVE.
And right there I KNEW (officially). I love Christopher. It has nothing to do with colour or prettiness or the smell of perfume. In actual fact, the fact that he is so loved would default in him loving everyone.
Every day is a HAPPY day for Christopher.
And when I think back, Christopher actually looks at me like that too…I was too busy loving him to notice that he loves me too. And we love each other. As a mom and son should.