I have taken a long time after telling Brett that I would write this, to actually sit down and put some words together. It feels strange to ‘tell our story’ because in so many ways we just feel like a normal family. Daddy, Mommy and baby. I’ve discovered in these last few months that much to my disappointment I am not a super-mother, I am very much the typical Mom who is doing all the stereotypical things Mommies do.
Did I freak out when she slept through the first time and kept going in to check that she was still breathing in the cot? Yes.
Did I feel immense guilt mixed with immense relief the first time I dropped her at day care? Yes.
Do I sometimes just watch her sleeping marvelling at this incredible bundle of beauty that God has entrusted to us? Yes.
I’m just a normal mom, with a little girl who is (in my beautifully biased opinion) the most awesome kid in the world.
But I suppose the journey of adopting her did involve a whole bunch of interesting emotions and debates in my heart and head that I can share – and here I do not by any means claim to speak for all adopted people or all moms who adopt. I have learnt very powerfully in this last while that there are no two adoption processes the same, no two adoptive children, no two sets of adoptive parents who have the same story. It is a very personal thing.
So firstly let me bring you up to speed since my last blog on adoption here in 2012. My hubby and I relocated to Pretoria, I have been called to a church, he has found a teaching post and we are both incredibly happy and settled and so decided the time had come to start a family. Adoption had always been on the cards, but I think we imagined that we would have biological kids first and then adopt – I’m not sure why.
Through a series of nudges from God, and God doing some crazy things in our lives (a beautiful story in and of itself) we met a little ten day old girl who we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was meant to be our daughter. And so ensued the legal nightmare of fighting to gain custody of her (her biological mother is Zimbabwean so we couldn’t get a birth certificate and thus couldn’t get custody), and getting other forms to eventually apply to adopt her. She was born on the 10th of December 2013, we met her on the 20th, and finally took her home on the 21st of March 2014. During the months of February and March we were able to take her home for the weekend and return her to the shelter on Monday. Taking her back was the closest thing to hell for me, and I’m so grateful that God limited that time to six weeks because I doubt I would have lasted much longer. The papers are all in, and now we wait 9months? A year? Who knows… in order for the adoption to go through and her to really become little Christine Grace Barker.
She has become our joy. She really has burst into our lives with colour and laughter and life. I have never known such a happy child. One of my fears in adopting was ‘how would I know whether I would love her enough? I mean the same amount that I would love a biological child?’ This was a totally unfounded fear. I cannot imagine loving anything as much as I love her. The love you have for a child is something incomparable to anything else. Powerful, fiercely protective, all encompassing. To the point that I worry now (along with the ‘typical mother’ I understand!!) how I could ever love another child as much as I do this one… I get reassured constantly by other moms that you can!!
But some of the things that have gone through my head are strange and I imagine different from other adoptive moms.
Firstly we have a copy of her biological mom’s passport. She happens to have been born 2 days before me. This messes with my mind and breaks my heart. Having journeyed with my own biological mother and understanding her heartache in giving me up, I wonder how she is doing. She is the same age as me and yet her life journey is one where at 30 years old she cannot keep her child due to poverty. How is it that we have been given such a precious gift and she has suffered such a terrible loss? She may be feeling relief, she may have buried any sadness, she might be grateful- trusting that her child will have something to eat tonight while she might not – I don’t know. But I pray for her – and I hope that good things come her way, that she receives comfort from God that her little girl is in safe hands.
I think I’m also a lot more chilled about the ‘adoption’ thing than other people simply because I’ve been there and it’s not this BIG BAD SCARY thing that you hide in shame… its normal. It’s simply an alternative way of doing family. People’s comments to us about adopting her communicate this all the time – the “You’re so brave…” kind of comments that really make my hair stand on end. And the funniest comment of “will you tell her she’s adopted?” I didn’t even grace that one with a yes, I simply said I’d let her think about that for a while. REALLY? So the kind of things I’ve read on adoption blogs of when to tell, how to tell, what to say – how not to make a big deal about it, but still make it ok to talk about – (there really is a lot of discussion about that stuff) doesn’t worry me at all. We’ll figure it out with her as we go along. When she starts asking about skin colour and why the kids stare at me strangely when they see I’m her mom – we’ll talk about it honestly at whatever age level will be appropriate then.
And lastly let me say that an ongoing struggle for me now is what next? Part of the reason we have adopted is that we believe in it. Statistics in South Africa are telling us that by next year there will be 5.5 MILLION orphans – 5.5 MILLION. How do we live with this kind of knowledge? 5.5 MILLION kids who could hugely benefit from a family, a home, a stable life. We chose to adopt, it wasn’t because we couldn’t biologically have – we really haven’t tried. Do we try? Is it ok to fall pregnant and thus prevent another child from taking that space in our household? Not everyone can adopt – I get that. But we can. So should we? There is a huge heartache in giving up the desire to see your husband’s eyes looking out of the eyes of child, a heartache in never knowing what it’s like to have a life grow inside you, a sharp stab in the heart every time someone insinuates that you’re not a ‘real’ mom because you didn’t give birth. And yet the knowledge that somewhere out there perhaps there is already our second child………. Waiting.
So we’ll wait for God’s leading on that one [Symbol]. He has been so faithful, so good, so gracious to us in the past. We’ll simply trust in that for now. And in the meantime, delight in the gift of Christine, our joy.
Be blessed. I pray that our story in some small way may be a blessing to someone.