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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29 Comments on “Babies are Exciting & Terrifying!

  1. Becoming a parent for the first time is definitely exciting and terrifying. It will change your life, and you’re right, it doesn’t matter how you get there. You and Mr. MPB will be fabulous, and you will build so much love around yourselves and that child.

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    • Awe, thanks. You and DW will also be fabulous parents to your little one!! I just know you two will shower your child(ren) with unconditional love and support, which I think is the foundation to any strong family.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that’s a great attitude to embrace, because so many people feel like adoption means a loss of control. Sure it does… but you’re kidding yourself if you think you have control with any of the alternatives! An adopted child may be more prone to health problem X… but a biological child would have been more prone to health problems Y and Z. It’s all such a crap-shoot. As are most things in life. 🙂 (And, as someone who has described infertilty/RPL as a more difficult burden than that of losing your mom and sister as a teenager, I imagine it might bring some comfort knowing that an adopted child is unlikely to have the same struggle.)

    I would caution you, though, against underestimating the importance of biology in terms of temperament/personality. As a psychology major, a major lesson for me was that while biology isn’t necessarily destiny, it is a hugely powerful influence (perhaps the most powerful influence) in determining who a person becomes. Studies on twins raised in different families are fascinating case studies on this point; even raised in very different atmospheres, the similarities between the siblings is uncanny. Nurture is very important, too, but most psychologists would agree it’s lesser than nature, or about equal. Nature still accounts for at least 50%.

    A common complaint amongst adoptees is a lack of feeling of belonging; they don’t look at their families and see in them a reflection of themselves, not physically, and often not personality-wise either. This isn’t necessarily a problem; lots of married couples are total opposites and get along splendidly. And in adoption, this is further alleviated, of course, by openness; having access to and relationships with the people who are more likely to be your “mirror” is so helpful in helping a child feel understood. (http://lavenderluz.com/2008/03/returning-to-the-well-2.html)

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    • I always adore your comments Evie! Thank you so much.
      As you mention, genetics and biology are important. I absolutely understand the important of genetics (one of my degrees happens to be a major in sociology), but I’ve decided that I cannot keep obsessing over it, because it’s not fair to me, or our child. And if I focus on the difference all the time, then how will we ever bond as a family? It’s not something to overlook, but it’s also not something I can obsess over. I hope that makes sense.
      And, I’m sure there will be instances where that genetic component will be important, such as helping our child feel like they belong with us, but we’ll work through that at when it happens.

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    • It seemed like really wise words, so I had to share it. Although I’m not really sure why I didn’t share it here a few months ago when she first said it to me. 🙂

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  3. Adopting is a little like raising stepchildren, except you probably don’t have to cooperate with the biological parent(s). Regarding the fear of substance abuse in utero, you could look at it that you are going to give that child the extra help that they may need and their birth mother couldn’t provide. Any time a baby is grown by someone other than you there are going to be factors you can’t control, which is scary and frustrating. This post is spot on– raising a new baby is exciting and terrifying in any situation! Adoption may bring it’s own specific challenges, but maybe you are meant for this challenge!

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    • I suspect in many ways you are right, that adoption is like raising step children! (That said my step-mom never took an active role in parenting me).
      It’s funny you mention that concept, because multiple times we have said that my family cannot have an issue with us adopting because we are not a genetically linked family because my Dad and Step-mom came together with their children after both of their first spouses died. So, we get loving someone who is not biologically linked to us.

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  4. I love this one! I have heard similar sentiments from those with both types of kids and it always is comforting to hear. Each kid is so different that we just do our best with each one. 🙂 Can’t wait for one of us to have news!

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  5. You would probably be abnormal if you weren’t excited and terrified at the same time about becoming a parent. I want it more than anything in the world and I have both emotions. I love the way you view adoption and all its idiosyncrasies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny, I really do think any expecting parent is probably slightly crazy if they aren’t both excited and terrified! Being fully responsible for a little human is a pretty daunting task, but I have no doubt when you turn comes you will be amazing!! 🙂

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  6. I wasn’t finished typing… Your perspective and attitude are refreshing and insightful and I think you will be better for it in the long run! Here’s to having the excitement outweigh the terror! Haha!

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  7. Yes! I love your friend — “all babies are exciting and terrifying.” It is true that it’s hard not to focus on the fact that there’s no concrete preparation for as many months as people who are pregnant themselves get, but you’re right–so many things could be challenges if you are the one who’s carrying and/or providing genetics. But so many things can be right! My best friend has three children, 7, 6, and 4, and she said that she and her husband decided, “Everyone screws up their kids. We just decided that we were going to try to screw them up as minimally as possible, but we’re totally going to mess them up.” I find it so refreshing to be thinking about the challenges of parenthood, rather than the many challenges of getting TO parenthood. Not that adoption can’t be challenging, or lengthy, but it’s nice to know that parenthood is DEFINITELY in the cards. Excitement and terror included. 🙂

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    • I love your friends quote too! Everyone does screw up their kids, it’s just a matter of how much, and hopefully not too much.
      And I also like you point – “parenthood is DEFINITELY in the cards” – it’s one of the greatest things about adoption!

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  8. Absolutely I can understand it being exciting and terrifying, you’re going to have a new baby! You’re going to form an attachment too. You will be doing all of the things a bio parent will do and that baby will rely on you and attach to you the way a bio child would; you will be his/her mom 🙂

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  9. I know of adoptive parents who feel they were better prepared to deal with any health problems, because they did not suffer any self-imposed guilt for problems their children faced. Of course, guilt is never merited when a child faces challenges, but with adoption, there was never the question of “should I have done something differently while pregnant?” I have always found that to be interesting and inspirational. Like you said, there are pros and cons to every way of growing your family!

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