Jul 162012
 
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Post provided by adopt2Connect guest blogger Christy Belleau.

 

I’m single mom to Chloe, adopted from Russia at one year.  It was a long and amazing process, which I hope to share with all of you in time.  But today I want to talk about what it’s like in the beginning for all of us.

First you find a social worker. My social worker’s agency is really great about educating adoptive parents and families about all the things that they will or might encounter. Sometimes the best stuff came from other adoptive parents who, like me, were feeling their way through family building each on their own never expected journey. The most important thing to learn is that adoption is about finding the right family for the child; it’s not about making you a parent as quickly as possible.

Everyone is different, but I wanted to know the straight poop.  I didn’t want to hear “you’ll see her and fall in love and it will be fine”.  I didn’t want to hear the romanticized Hallmark Hall of Fame version, nor did I want the horrifying Lifetime Television for Women adoption story.

I wanted to hear that it would be normal and healthy at any point in the process to question myself and really examine the situation for what it was and decide if it was right for the child and for me.  I wanted to know that feeling equal parts frustration, worry, excitement, joy, and abject terror was not unique to me.  I wanted to hear what I was beginning to suspect: it will be hard, and you will be tired, but you can do this!

My daughter was 1 year old the day I went to pick her up from the orphanage.  Chloe was handed to me freshly bathed, I dressed her in the clothes I’d brought and then she smiled at me.  And that was it, we were a family.

I knew we’d need to get to know each other.  I knew that while she would need me, she would not automatically love me.  And I knew it was okay if I didn’t fall in love with her on sight.  I knew we both might be depressed at some point.  I knew this would take time.

Certainly I felt great admiration for my tiny new girlfriend who had the strength to survive 8 weeks in a NICU and almost a year in orphanage care without a parent.

I appreciated her feisty nature, her talent as a mimic, her inquisitive mind, seemingly quick learning, ability to make her desires clear non-verbally, her laugh, the huge smile  I had to work for, hilarious facial expressions, out stretched arms,  interactions with our pets and discovery of new things (like the dog’s water dish!).  I marveled at how fast she could crawl with her one leg up and one down technique.

I felt great compassion for how disconcerting and frightening it must be to leave all the people, sounds, language, food and smells she had ever known to journey with me to her new life in the US.  I learned to interpret “Chloe signs” for things she wanted, she wasn’t using words, but like all babies she was definitely communicating all the time.

And I felt an enormous sense of responsibility to protect her and provide her with what she needed.  But that isn’t quite love, is it?

There was the exhausting search for the perfect daycare for my child as I returned to work.  The doctor’s visits, the vaccinations, the “is this serious enough to bring her in calls” to the nurses.  And then there was a 3AM 105.9 fever just 4 months into our lives together…and the vomiting and the baths and the Motrin…and the days of her wanting only me, of collapsing onto my chest for comfort.

We had been through a lot together, and I knew it was just the beginning. I realized that love is not always automatic, and it isn’t something we learn to do.  Often love is earned in the act of caring for and bonding with your child.  Somewhere along the line I knew that I was hers and she was mine, and I knew we’d be fine. And so will you, however it happens for your new family.

 

 July 16, 2012  Posted by at 9:06 pm Adoption Support  Add comments

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