Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Last week I turned 27, which – for some unknown reason – I’ve always considered the “grown-up age.” It’s fitting, then, that we also recently decided to become parents, the ultimate grown-up act.
No, I’m not pregnant, but feel free to treat me like I am for the next 6-15 months, the amount of time we’re told it typically takes to adopt a child through our agency. By that, I do not mean touch my belly. Just think of me – and Darwin, too – as “expecting.” Because we are – we’re expecting a child who is a complete, thrilling mystery to us as to gender, race, age (we specified up to age 2) and every other possible trait.
When we were newlyweds, in those blissfully ignorant days before we found out for sure getting pregnant would be difficult for us, we enjoyed talking about what our biological child might look like – genetically it was impossible for him or her to have brown eyes (we both have blue/green); our dads both have black hair, so we could have a black-haired child; or he or she could have red hair, like D’s grandmother; he or she could have Darwin’s gorgeous smile; I hoped he or she would take after Darwin in the body shape department and not inherit the Fat Arms of Destiny from me.
The hardest thing about deciding to adopt has been letting go of that imaginary child. We comfort ourselves on that front by saying we’re not ruling out having a biological child in the future. Maybe I’ll be more willing to undergo invasive fertility treatments and month after month of possible disappointment once we already have a child … there will be less riding on it then.
We’ve been debating adoption for a long time, years even, and we are both relieved to have it decided. More than the relief is the excitement. I didn’t expect to be this happy just to have made the decision; I didn’t expect to feel this light, this hopeful, this certain. I expected the adoption process to make me a bundle of nerves, and maybe it yet will, but for now there is such a feeling of rightness about it. The long stream of paperwork stretching out before us doesn’t freak me out; it feels manageable. There are steps that we will plod through, applications to fill out, forms to get, life stories to write, fingerprints and background checks and home visits. But they are steps I can control somewhat, more than I could control whether my body released an egg or not or behaved in any way like it was supposed to. I can check them off a list, and each check mark will bring us closer to a child that will, somehow, miraculously, become ours.
This is not to say I’m not terrified. Let me just say it – I am ter.rif.ied. Darwin, too. We’ve never been parents before. I looked around this big, old house this morning and thought, “How on earth are we going to take care of all this and a kid, too?” I think about flying to another state to pick up a newborn and bringing that child, that strange, squirming, possibly screaming child, on an airplane full of irritable strangers. I wonder how I will get any work done at home with a kid demanding my attention. I wonder if I will be patient enough, firm enough, calm enough.
But I’m told these are things all future parents feel. No change this huge can come without a little trepidation, right?
And I’m working on simplifying, decluttering and finishing projects to make this house a place of peace – not stress – before we bring a new little bundle of mess and chaos into it. We have a driving force now! Motivation! No more laziness allowed! And because I can never have too much motivation, I’ve been watching Clean House obsessively. Last night I sorted through my vast collection of shoes and found at least 20 pairs to donate. (You know this is serious when I’m parting with my precious shoes!)
Our wait for a child could be a long one or a shockingly short one – our agency has tales of parents matched as soon as 24 hours after completing their home study – so we’re mentally preparing ourselves for a long one, while physically preparing for a short one. Either way, we want to be ready! As ready as we can be anyway … I’m sure there are nothing but surprises awaiting us.