A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me. – Jody Landers
Today is the 12th anniversary of meeting the baby who became my son. It is our family birthday.
Twelve years ago I waited outside the office of the Director of a children’s home a million
miles away in a country that only a few years before I would have wondered if it had been made up by Disney. It was the culmination of an approximately six year journey from decision making through fertility treatment to adoption, taking in a few stops like relationship breakdown, cancer (my mother’s), cancer scares (mine), hysterosalpingograms (also known in the trade as torture-grams) and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome along the way just to keep things interesting.
I’d been through a long and fairly tortuous home study, a deferred panel decision thanks to a GP who refused to sign my medical on the basis that she “didn’t know me”, I’d cried over adoption blogs and renovated a house that I lived in throughout and decorated a nursery. All on my own.
It all ended in this, this is what it was all for. Here in this little room waiting, terrified, to be introduced to a child, age and sex unknown who would hopefully become my child. And terrified I was – I had faced down armed militia in Nigeria trying to shake me and a colleague down for bribes with less trepidation.
The foolhardiness of the idea struck me for the first time. Bit late to have second thoughts at that point and anyway for all my bravery I wasn’t sure I had the nerve to run away either. A no win situation it seemed.
A probably 5 or 10 minute wait stretched before me endlessly as I got more and more nervous. Then I was called in and a sad, snivelling, beautiful boy was given to me and our journey began.
The inital weeks were hard, I was tired and stressed and long way from home, this new baby of mine had an uncertain medical prognosis (he was a 980gr 26 week preemie) and significant delays (he was unable to sit up unaided at 11 months), a child who steadfastly and stubbornly refused to make eye contact let alone bond in any way that was recognisable from the lovely blogs I’d read. In these blogs, everyone fell in love instantly and danced off into the golden fields with rings of daisies resting on their golden locks. I rather piously pronounced to myself that even if I was never able to love him fully that I would make hs life better than it would have been without me. Pillock!
And then slowly and imperceptably, changes happened, eye contact was made and bonds formed and strengthened and grew stronger still – and that was me! Thankfully he played ball too. That feeling of being the babysitter lessened and I started feelng like a mother. Like an adoptive mother. I was sad that I seemed never to be able to be unaware that he was adopted and I wondered if it mattered that I felt the urge to tell every person I ever met that he was adopted. Unknowingly I was mourning for the loss of a birth child, of never being pregnant or giving birth. at the same time as I was growing into my role of adoptive mother with its different challenges.
I spent his birthday wondering how his birth mother was feeling and grieving for her loss and wishing she could know what a beautiful child we had, we two.
Now twelve years have passed like a whirlwind and my boy is as much mine as if I had chopped off my arm and made him myself. He is maturing into a lovely young man who is the sum of his parts – 1000 years of ancestors whispering behind him with fierce pride in their boy and 12 years of nurture softening the warrior within. And yet in so many ways his own creation as he tries so hard to quiet the chaos that his past has created inside his head.
Twelve years of joy and challenges and preconceptions challenged and it has crept up on me that I am an adoptive mother no longer. Just a mother.
Happy Family Birthday Daniel, love you to the moon and back.