Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
I’m not a big crier. I hate crying, especially in front of people. It makes me feel too vulnerable. That said, I’ve cried on at least 10 out of the last 14 days.
Two weeks ago we found out through our adoption facilitator about a sibling group of three bi-racial children (a 4-year-old and 16-month-old twins) available for adoption under tragic circumstances. Because we love children, want children, and are just crazy enough, we said yes to being presented to their mother for consideration as their adoptive parents. In the next couple of days, we tried not to get our hopes up but also enjoyed a lot of excited/scared talking and thinking about how dramatically our lives would change. We’d have to buy a mini van. We’d have to buy three kids’ worth of beds and toothbrushes, clothes and toys. We thought, too, about these children and their mom, how all their lives were about to change forever.
We told all our friends and family about the situation, partly to prepare them for the possibility of us bringing home three kids, and partly so we’d have people to share our excitement and fears with. I was met with overwhelming support – everyone was thrilled for us and compassionate for these children and their mother.
D … got a different reaction. He was met with silence from his dad and rejection from his mother. We’ve always known his mom was racist, but we never realized she was this hardcore. She said a lot of terrible things, the pinnacle of which was that she could never love these children the same as her other grandchildren because of their race.
D told me some of what she said, which upset me. But he made the mistake of trying to protect me the worst of it, AND not telling me how much it affected him. Instead, we continued forward. The kids’ mother liked us (along with three other couples), and I spoke with her on the phone. We found out the kids’ names and saw their photo.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t understand why D was no longer excited. I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just tell his mother this is our decision and the only decision they have control over is how they react to it. I kept trying to be excited for us both. I kept trying to tell D they would get over it when the kids were here – how could they not love three adorable little children?
But then he finally broke down and told me what his mom said about not loving them the same. That was a rough night. It’s so hard to comprehend there are people so cruel, and that I’m related to them, and that their racism is affecting how we live our lives.
And D’s brother, initially supportive, did a 180 after talking to their mother. Every time D talked to one of them, he felt worse about the situation. He didn’t want to be ostracized by his family. He had a vision in his head of his children’s ideal relationship with is parents, and he knew that with these three kids, that could never be possible.
I still wanted the kids so much. I felt angry that if D’s mother had just kept her thoughts to herself, D and I would be scared TOGETHER and excited TOGETHER. I felt terrible we were in the situation so deeply. I wanted the kids’ mother to know about this before she chose us, because it seemed unfair to her not to know the kids’ potential grandmother didn’t want to be. We were supposed to talk to the mom again last weekend, but had trouble getting in touch with her.
Finally on Monday, I had a long talk with the adoption coordinator. I explained the full situation and how D was not really on board anymore. She left the decision to me, but said it probably wasn’t wise to move forward if D and I weren’t on the same page. Then she told me the kids’ mom had narrowed it down to us and one other couple. I just didn’t think it was fair to talk to her again, encourage her, and then maybe end up saying no. So I uttered one of the most difficult sentences of my life – I told her we needed to back out. The adoption coordinator was nice and understanding about it, but I still feel terribly guilty about putting them through extra complication – not to mention our home study social worker, who updated our home study to enable us to get these kids – and for talking to the mom and then backing out.
Worst of all, I had started picturing these kids in our life. I cried at the grocery store when I thought about what it would’ve been like to have them there with us. I cried in the car, while I told D I was disappointed in how he’d handled things. I cried while I cooked lunch, and while I looked at the conveniently mailed Babies R Us flier with the double strollers on sale. I cried myself to sleep.
I know it was stupid, but I had a relapse of shopping disease yesterday. I just wanted to do something simultaneously self-destructive and self-indulgent. I bought myself some shoes online. I bought toys for the pets. I went to the Circuit City going out of business sale and bought a Roomba vacuum, a wireless mouse, and about a million DVDs.
I don’t know whether it was the shopping, time passing, or just relief that all the arguing and crying and tension of the last few days is over, but today I feel almost normal again. I am thinking about the future instead of turning in circles in the present. Though I am still very angry with D’s mother for taking away the possibility of these children, I know one day we’ll get a different child or children.
And we’ve learned a lot of hard lessons from this horrible situation. We’ve learned how far D’s family is willing to take their racism and that if we hope to have any kind of relationship with them, we cannot adopt a child of a certain race. I’ve learned that I don’t want my children of any race to be close to D’s mother, because I cannot trust her not to try to teach them to be racist like her. I’ve learned that my husband, who I thought was about as close to perfect as a man can be, is very weak in this one way.
And I’ve learned one very nice lesson: My friends and family will support and encourage me in this adoption, no matter what.