I’m on vacation at the beach(!), so while I’m lazing about my days getting a tan, a couple of readers have submitted guest posts. Today’s is written by a friend of mine, Mary. Mary is the CEO of a small company in New England. Her children are now 11 and 16.
I learned a tremendous amount through my adoption journey. I learned some things about myself I wasn’t too thrilled with, I learned the heart’s capacity for love, and I learned about Marfan syndrome.
When my then husband and I were married, we both agreed that if we had a choice, we’d like to have a birth child and an adopted child. I became pregnant with my daughter so quickly, that we put adoption on the back burner, and a few years later tried for number two. When that wasn’t working, and I learned firsthand how stressful it was to begin the fertility process, we turned to adoption.
While we were looking around at adoption agencies and the different paths to adoption, we took a hard look at ourselves and what we would need to successfully expand our family. Deciding to adopt and how to go about adopting was the most personal decision of my life. I promised myself that no matter what, I would be honest about what would best for our newly expanded family. I had to dig deep and face the fact that I was not secure enough for an open adoption. As much as I felt that it ultimately was the psychologically healthiest for the child (after all the child would know that his birth mother cared enough to screen us and keep a relationship with him), I knew I couldn’t do it. I was worried about there being “another mother”. Would I feel competition? Would my child love his birth mother more? How could I integrate her into our lives? If I had enough money to adopt her child, should I rather use it to help her keep her child? I wasn’t worried about the work involved. I was worried about my questions and insecurities affecting my child. This was not an easy thing to recognize in myself and was not something I was proud of. But, I was true to my promise, and we turned to Guatemala.
Guatemala worked for us because 1) we didn’t want our child to feel different from the rest of us and my husband had darker skin and straight dark hair, our work schedules weren’t very flexible and traveling to Guatemala wasn’t a requirement, we knew we could get a baby six months or younger, and we were told that Guatemala took good care of children put forth for adoption so attachment and health issues would be at a minimum. Everyone is different, but these are the things that we recognized we needed.
As I traversed my way through the adoption process, I was amazed at how parallel it was to having a birth child. To me the home study process was akin to the initial months of trying to conceive. The process of waiting for a child to be identified for us and the endless paperwork was gestation. And getting the call was labor.
Luckily, the three of us were able to fly to Guatemala and our daughter was the first to hold our son, Charlie. Six months old, happy, well adjusted and healthy, we bade good bye to his foster mother and headed to the airport. Along with the overwhelming joy I felt, I was also very surprised to feel incomplete.
What was missing? I realized I desperately wanted to meet his birth mother, to look straight into her eyes so she knew I was real and that I was going to do everything in my power for her son. That he would know of her as a hero who did what no mother ever wants to consider – that her child would have a better life being raised by someone else thousands of miles away, and she would never see him again. I felt a kinship with her; like we were sisters. The biggest thing I wanted to avoid had become the thing I wanted most.
Now, his dad and I are divorced, and he has a step mother who adores him. Those old fears arise now and then, but more as a way to understand his step mother’s insecurities and her desire to prove herself as his mother. He is my son and we have a bond that can never be broken. If he can find additional women in his life to love him – birth mother, step mother, girl friends and then life partner – then he is a lucky person, and I can rest easy.