Soon, we will adopt our second child, a lovable and huggable little six-year-old boy, the one I’ve called Cricket here on my blog. I am awash with love for this boy and the daughter we adopted two and a half years ago.
Adoption has made it possible for me to become a Dad, a role that I find to be one of my greatest blessings in life. Only being a husband has equaled the deep and unyielding sense of fulfillment that being a dad has given me. In family, I am blessed. They are my riches.
I remember being five years old and looking at my Dad and thinking, I want to be Dad just like Dad.
Fast forward twenty-something years later, and my wife and I began to daydream of family. We’d look in the back seat of the car while we drove and imagine our kids there. We’d say things like, “If our kids were here now, they’d be…” and fill in the verb.
Adoption was always part of our likely plan. It wasn’t definite, but we often figured we’d have one child biologically ours and adopt the second.
When years passed with no child, we decided we would just go straight to adoption. We had minor grief over not being able to have one biologically, but it wasn’t devastating. We could have gone to doctors and tried to figure out what was preventing it and perhaps make it possible, but we didn’t want to go that route. Not that we think it’s a poor choice, it’s just not what we wanted.
I knew we would love those kids, whoever the kids turned out to be, just as much through adoption as we would if they were our biological offspring. That was just a definite conviction we both had from day one.
We researched for a long time about what it would be like. We read books on parenting for years, especially my wife.
Finally one day, we got over our nerves and went to an adoption agency to ask about the foster-to-adoption path to building our family. This was a scary step, but we got through it.
Months went by with hoop after hoop after hoop to make it possible to even be considered as adoptive parents. Yet more time went by before we were matched. Hope rose and fell, rose and fell. What if it doesn’t happen?
Yet it did happen. I think we fell in love with a description and a photo when it came to Ladybug, and meeting her only cemented that love. Adopting her some 8 months later remains one of the best days of my life. I was already Daddy by then, but on that day, I was legally Daddy. It means something.
We didn’t expect the search for Ladybug’s very necessary sibling to take so long. While our relationship with Ladybug became deeper and richer, so did our desire to complete our family. We wanted balance. Every parent-to-be has some sense of what they want their family to be like. When you adopt, you get some measure of control over that. Some. The more rigid you are with your expectations, the harder it is going to be. You might be shutting yourself off from that child that is going to be such a necessary piece to the puzzle that is your family. We knew this, so we had some flexibility.
Yet, despite the flexibility, over a year passed, and we started to think, what if it doesn’t happen?
When we found out about our boy, he was a description in an e-mail without a photo attached, but there was a little tug at our hearts. “We want him,” we said. When it seemed like a match was definite, a family member popped out of nowhere, and we were moved to the back burner, understandably.
You can tell your heart not to feel, but it doesn’t have to listen.
“We want to meet him anyway,” we said. “Just in case.”
We figured the social worker would get to know us better. Even if we couldn’t adopt this boy, though heart-breaking that felt, the social worker would have a better sense of who we are.
When he walked into the room, shy and beautiful with thick lashes and timid eyes, I realized we were setting ourselves up for more heartbreak. We loved him immediately, laughed at his silly little boy jokes, and wished.
I didn’t expect that a week or two later, we’d get a call that it wasn’t going to work out with the family member, and we were now the match. Could it be? Really?
It was. Soon we were visiting and soon he was moving in, a cart-wheeling ball of energy and cuteness.
I learned what it is to parent two kids instead of one, which requires the development of a whole new set of skills, including how to cope with the testing of one’s patience. We loved, and waited, and hoped that all would work out. We discovered the unique aspects of parenting a boy.
It’s been truly rough at times and truly magical at times. Mostly it has been exactly what it should be. He is exactly the child we want to complete our family. People might say, “But you would say that about any child, wouldn’t you?” I don’t know, really. Not just any child, that’s for sure, since we were matched earlier with a boy that we ended up deciding with a lot of sleepless nights wasn’t right for our family. That was hard. Is there a boy who would fit in as much? Surely anything is possible. What matters is, we found a boy that already feels like he belongs.
I have to work hard to set the scene for attachment to happen. Ladybug attached quickly, first to my wife and a few months later to me. You could say I grew on her like mold on cheese. She’d agree and giggle. Cricket’s taken a lot more effort, but he’s coming around to seeing that moldy me is a pretty good guy to have as a dad. Not perfect at all, definitely flawed, but human and not lacking in love for his kids.
When the day comes, soon, that a judge once again makes me legally a Daddy, it’ll be the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The days of building our little family will be complete. The life we build as a family will continue, and I have a lot to look forward to with this family.
I wrote this post primarily because I know adoption isn’t always something that people are open to trying, and I think it is often the potential dads out there that are resistant. So this post is really for those guys. This is for all the men out there that aren’t sure if they can handle adopting and wondering if they will feel the same about their kids if they’re adopted. You’re not me, but you have every potential to be the kind of person that decides it’s okay to build a family this way.
It’s not less of a family. Family could never be less, when you have a lot of love to give.