During the time between our official application to the SN adoption program and our referral, I went through a lot of stress and angst. It isn’t that I suffered from doubt. Quite the opposite - if anything I was wildly over-confident, even cavalier in my certainty that we had made the right decision, in spite of everyone (and there were a few) who doubted us.
But I did vacillate quite a bit over our choice of conditions and what we could or couldn't handle. I changed our list of conditions at least half a dozen times that first year. I worried that we would somehow have made the wrong choices - too many conditions on our list or (more often) too few. I never once erased a condition, but I added several...so many, in fact that I feared the SN department would write me off as loony. I worried that, by some careless mark on a piece of paper, some space left blank, we would somehow let the exact child that was meant for us slip through our fingers. I worried sometimes about finances, of course, and insurance. I worried about health and survival rates. My greatest fear - the bogeyman in the closet, the hulking shadow that loomed over me when I woke with a start in the night - was that international relations would suddenly take a turn for the ugly, and the whole program would come to a screeching halt before we ever made it to referral.
But here’s the thing: all of the worries, fears, concerns both valid and hysterical, all of the restless, sweaty nights, the self doubt, the stress manifestations that crept into my daily life (oh, yeah, I was pretty crazy by the last three months), all of the moments when panic swamped me like a swift and toxic tide, all of that disappeared as soon as we brought our daughter home from China.
OK, well, that’s a slight blurring of the facts. I’m rounding down. The absolute reality is that they all disappeared....well, approximately three and a half weeks after coming home. It’s tough for me to remember precisely when, what with the sleep deprivation and the intestinal parasites.
But the point is that they never returned. Not one. Never again did a single one of those fears, doubts, or worries darken my door. Now, in fact, they seem laughable - the ravings of a fever dream. What on earth was I so worried about?
Surgeries? Meh. Sleep deprivation? Maybe I don’t get quite as much as I once did, but I don’t miss it. Speech therapy? You know what? I really kind of enjoy it! Health insurance? Well, it’s no secret that that’s a big pain in the posterior. So what else is new? Public reaction to my child’s (very visible) condition, before, during and after various surgeries? Hahah! She’s the most charismatic kid I’ve ever met. I actually have to turn away requests from friends and family for QQ time. She’s a freakin’ rockstar. She has fans all over north Denver. What am I saying? She has been featured on children’s fashion sites in both the US and Europe. And yes, that’s in spite of the fact that her corrective surgery is far from complete.
Ever boy between the ages of 3 and 10 stops in his tracks and goes out of his way to ask about her and meet her. I swear, pre-teen boys never spoke to me before I had QQ by my side. We are in big, big trouble when she’s of dating age.
So, you might wonder, do I live a life of sunshine and roses? Does a dark cloud never pass over my sun? Well, no. Almost no. 99.9% no. OK, the truth is that there is on overwhelming, slightly hysterical and often crippling fear that comes over me, oh, maybe 5 or 10 times a day. I am terrified, humbled, brought to my emotional knees by the fear of the fragility of life - the fear of losing her.
My daughter is vigorous, charming, bright, loving, energetic, athletic, talented, and shining with life and joy. She is healthier than your average bear. In the first year that she was home, she barely had so much as a sniffle. When she finally succumbed to Swine Flu, very early in the new season, she came through with flying colors and barely a whimper. Her development has been judged above average by her therapists and doctors, and she grows like a weed. And yet I fear daily for all of those little things that can erase a person from your life unexpectedly. Throughout all my obsessive pre-adoption research and soul-searching, I thought of many a pitfall, but I never considered the possibility that my one and only issue would be that I would love my child so wildly, helplessly, unconditionally and profoundly that I would live for the rest of my life in mortal and constant fear of the possibility of losing her.
So here is the one piece of advice I have for any prospective adoptive parent of a child with medical needs: All of your concerns are for naught. I know it’s impossible to just let them go without a thought, but in fact that’s what you should do, because none of them will count a whit once you become the parent of that child.
Fear only that you will love that child too much, because that is the only true danger.
When they say that all you have to fear is fear itself, believe it. And learn to live with it.
- Maia, lucky and desperately infatuated mommy of QQ