I was recently reading the blog of another woman adopting from Haiti, and she was describing what it was like to find out she could not adopt a child she was caring for. She described that experience in a painful, honest way that gave me a serious gut check:
When we had Sophia with us in May and June, an interesting thing happened.Once we learned that she would not ever be available for adoption it became harder to take care of her. Shallow? Unloving? Immature? Maybe, probably, yes – to all three. For me personally I felt myself holding back from her. Like, if you’re not going to be “my” kid and you’re just here for a short time, I don’t know how to give myself wholly to you. I did not want to love somebody that was going to leave. I did not want to risk feeling hurt. I was disturbed with what I learned about myself. I remember the night she had the flu and puked on me again and again, I kept thinking “this is not my kid” and finding myself both bitter and frustrated with her. Yeah, you heard me, I was frustrated with a malnourished 12 lb baby that had no mother. Somehow, taking care of her, became about me. Not her. There is no way to adequately express how icky I feel about that. But it was true of me.
I had very similiar feelings throughout the saga of Jafta’s adoption, which went on for two years. I remember so often holding him and wondering if he was “mine”. My first experience of being a mom, I was scared to love him completely. I was terrified of losing him, and therefore selfish with my time, energy, and affection. I remember, shamefully, how short and resentful I was with him on days that we got bad news from the court system. How impatient I felt on the days I was really uncertain. How I just went through the motions and kind of zoned out for so long because I didn’t want to think about it.
I’ve really been thinking tonight about how that period shaped me as a mother. How much residual selfishness and self-protection do I still do, out of habit? Am I still holding back love for fear of losing? I can’t help thinking I’m still doing this, and that fact is giving me some serious pause today.