Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Part I: Selfish, not a savior.

 **This post is the first in a series about our adoption process to date. 
                                                  The first picture we saw of our son, YH.

 6969 miles from here there is a little boy who will join our family in the next few weeks. Isn't that weird? This tiny little stranger is going to be at my table, in my kitchen, and sharing the tub with his brother and sister--for the rest of our lives. Well, maybe not that bathtub part...

As we get closer to the day when we take custody of our sweet boy I find that I am the recipient of more good-intentioned-but-cringeworthy comments. People attribute all kinds of motives to you when you adopt a child. We have two children who were born-to-us so most people assume that we aren't adopting due to infertility. This gives them license to expound on our virtuous nature. When I tell acquaintances about our son many respond with some variation of "You are a saint." I am still learning how best to respond to this; most often I am left flummoxed, trying to sputter out a graceful rejoinder. Because the truth is: I am selfish, not a saint.

Our adoption journey began in December 2009 as we drove home from IKEA. True story. As we sat at a stop-light with our 5 and 3.5 year old gremlins giggling in the backseat, I was overcome with the selfish desire to have another child. Sean looked at me aghast when I told him I wanted another baby. He expressed several rational concerns including the general over-population of the planet. He ended his speech with a mumbled "I mean, I'd rather adopt than bring another kid into this world..." and I saw my opening.

I latched onto the idea of adoption immediately--it all made so much sense!--and we started daydreaming about *where* and *who* we would adopt. I said "We've always wanted to go to India! We could adopt a little boy from India! He would be 3 or 4 and we could name him Rudy..."
Do you want to punch me right now? Because I totally want to punch myself. SO arrogant. SO privileged. SO naive. I know. We were all of those things, and we remain some of those things.

The truth is that in the best case scenario adopting a child is a means to build a family. We are not saving our son and he does not owe us anything--not even love. The truth is that as I fold tiny hipster
t-shirts and organize our cloth diaper stash he is experiencing the loss of his firstmother. And soon he'll experience the loss of his foster family, his first culture, his first language, all the tastes and smells of his homeland...It's enough to make me feel like a monster-- not a savior.

Another truth is that our son was available for adoption in his home country for 6 months before he was available for international adoption. Another truth is that he was placed on a waiting child photolisting because his file was passed over by families in the US who were waiting for a referral. Yet another truth is that his medical history puts him at risk for some degree of developmental delay/behavioral issues/"special needs." If he was not matched with a family he would be removed from his foster home around the age of 3 or 4 and placed in a government run orphanage. He would likely spend the rest of his childhood there. Do you see how I feel compelled to share this with you, in the hopes that it will somehow absolve me of my selfish motives?

My truth is that I wanted to raise another child. I wanted another little boy to sit at my table. We found our son on an adoption agency website in a tiny out-of-date picture accompanied by three sentences of cryptic text. I believe that we will love him fiercely and we will work hard to parent him to the best of our abilities. Our selfish abilities.


  1. Nora. Love. Wanted to adopt for the same reason; feel the same arrogance and apology. You said it so well. Love. Oh, and heh, I read Already Pretty every day.

  2. Thank you Jean! I know you and I have talked about this before. It's such a tricky thing, because I *know* the people who make these comments are just trying to show support for us, so it seems mean to jump on them for their choice of wording. But at the same time, I aim to parent this little boy and as his third mama I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure people see him as the fully formed person that he is--not as someone who should be pitied or made to feel beholden to us.

  3. This, my dear friend, is why I wanted you to blog. I'm in tears. Your brutal and raw honesty glows. The showing of imperfections when from the outside you look perfect, is how I aspire to be. I just adore you and your family. Character flaws and all.

  4. I love this post. Thank you soooo much for sharing it on my blog.