Babies are Exciting & Terrifying!
I have one person in my real-life who has both biological children and adopted children. She has known about our struggles for a while, and when I told her we are choosing to adopt I indicated that we are excited and also slightly terrified.
Her response to this was nothing short of brilliance:
It does not matter how a baby comes into your life, they are all exciting and terrifying.
I think she makes a very good point. In fact, since she shared these words with me a few months ago, I have repeated them to myself and others probably a couple hundred times.
To me this sentence is simply brilliant. She made me realize that in so many ways adoption isn’t that much different from typical family building.
It does not matter who carries a child, there are always health risks. While there may be a few extra risks with adoption due to possible substance exposure, if I carried the child, there is still the risk of many, many health issues both in utero and once born. No matter who carries the child, a child could still have autism, a brain aneurism or be deaf. Heck, any child or person can be hit by a bus resulting in brain injuries. My point here is that we’ve spent a lot of time worrying about the health risks associated with adoption, so now we are trying really hard to focus on the fact that there are health risks with all babies.
Biology provides the genetic make-up and sets the foundation for life, but nearly everything else is learned. In my undergraduate degree I took a lot of courses in sociology, and if I remember back, I’m pretty sure a lot of what I was taught is that we learn behaviours based on society. In the first few years of life, the most important place children acquire information is from their parents and siblings in their home. While we clearly will not be providing the genetic make-up of our child, we will be providing the social setting that our child will learn to live in.
After hearing this wise wisdom, I realized that adoption does not make the fear of becoming a first time parent any more or less scary when compared to those carrying the child. To simplify (and I am probably over simplifying here), all babies, no matter where they come from will behave similarly and it is our job as parents to figure out why and to try not to screw them up too much,
I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of things about adoption that are different (i.e. attachment, multiple sets of parents with different rights, etc.), but I am saying is that I don’t have to focus just on all the differences. In fact, I really shouldn’t just focus on all the differences. And, even more importantly what I am trying to is that at the very foundation of having a child, it is simply all about parenting. And parenting is exciting and terrifying for every first time parent!
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