Today's guest post is by our first contributor who isn't a mama... he is a baba. Adrian is father to four children, his youngest daughter adopted from China, and blogs at Forever Family.
I know there are some stories of adoption out there, where the bonding between child and parent(s) is instant and wonderful! Yes, the heavens open up, doves fly down, and the whole world slows to a crawl as your new wonderful, beautiful child runs to your arms - clearly un-inhibited by the past - and falls softly into your chest as tears of joy roll down your cheeks!
This... was not... our adoption. At least, not for me and our daughter. Our scene was more like, the heavens opened up, doves flew down, the sounds of angels singing could barely be heard over the joyous sounds of laughter and our precious daughter looking up at me and my wife softly sighing the words Ma ma and Ba ba - and then quickly realising that although her new Ma ma was a true beauty to behold, her new Ba ba happened to be the Yeti incarnate! She quickly tried to find a wooden stake to drive though my heart, garlic, and a silver bullet to try to rid herself of me...
But that was OK (well actually, it hurt worse than anything else I’ve experienced, but that is for another post). I was prepared for this type of reaction... and I should thank my wife for that.
*begin wavy flash back to our wasted youths*
Friend: So, who do you like? Anyone right now?
Younger Version of Me: I kind am digg’n R right now.
Friend: For real! That is so cool! Hey, HEY R! Adrian LIKES you!
(younger future wife - R)
My Future Wife: What?! Adrian!? Ewwwww! I would never date Adrian!
Younger Version of Me: I’m right here! I can hear you, you know.
My Future Wife: I want a man who is manly - and strong!
Younger Version of Me: I have a very deep inner strength. Don’t take my lack of arguing and getting mad as a weakness. It takes much more strength to deal with things properly than it dose to explode and get mad! And hey, you know what, I’m from Flin Flon! I wrestle Bears Wrapped In Bacon!
My Future Wife: I want someone, who is macho - who will make my decisions.
Younger Version of Me: Well, I think that is kind of silly.
My Future Wife: I want someone who will order my food for me!
Younger Version of Me: But you haven’t told me what you like yet.
My Future Wife: I would NEVER date Adrian.
Younger Version of Me: I'm still right here!
My Future Wife: You are so not the man I want.
Younger Version of Me: But I might just be the man you need.
* end wavy flashback*
To say that my wife and I did not hit it off that great, would be an understatement. We met at a young age in Sunday School - but were only “friends”. But, I do have a way with da ladies! I wear ‘em down!
When we were young, and we were out with our friends, I would go to the other guys who had cars and ask them “not to give R a ride home” - because I liked her, and I wanted to give her a ride home. Then, after she was safely confined in my car, (after not being able to find anyone to give her a ride home), with no possible chance of escape, I would drive her home as slow as possible just to spend as much time as possible with her.
Now I know that might sound a little creepy... but hey, it worked! She fell in love with my rugged good looks, charming personality and my humor (some would add obvious denial of reality). Had it not worked out between us, I would have just been some creepy guy who kept threatening people not to give R a ride home, and stalking R all hours of the day... but never-the-less, it all worked out in the end.
(still wearing her down)
Now, what has that to do with our little Ping and our adoption?
Well, true to form, I did not hit it off so great with this new girl either. I was confident though that I would woo her and win her over! I would wear her down...
(Ping showing her playful side as she tries to stab me with a fork)
I’m sure Ping was sitting there, looking at me going, I want a Dad who is:
- less hairy
- less smelly
- more Chinese
- less hairy
- less loud
- less scary
- less tall
- less cuddly
- more further away
She was not impressed by me at all! It was only this last week (after being home with us for 8 months) where she crawled up into our bed, and without me saying anything, just wrapped her little arms around my neck and said “Daddy, I lub you!”
(still not impressed by me)
What a difference a few months can make. Just a little while ago, when she entered the bed room, she stood at the side of the bed and just stared at me. She would not come close. She would not climb up on the bed if I was there. And if I was there, and she really wanted her mother, she would walk a wide berth around the bed (keeping her eyes fixed on me, lest I try to reach out and touch her) and crawl in next to her Mother. If I tried to touch her, or hug her, or pick her up, or even talk to her... oh boy! Did I get a mouth full of Mandarin (I know a little Mandarin and I’m pretty sure nothing she said was covered in my “Introduction to Mandarin” classes - had I taken the “Swearing Like a Truck Driver” course, I’m sure I could have understood a little of what she was saying).
(just trying to get away)
But each day, I just loved her. I let her cry, yell at me, run away... what ever. She would say “Daddy, I NO love you!”, and I would say “That is OK, because I love you. Maybe tomorrow you will love Daddy?”, (“Maybe” she would reply, on a good day, normally it was “mmmmm, I tink abot it, an No!”).
I would hold her, talk to her, take her out one on one and have cake. I let her cry, listened to her babble. Held her when she was scared (even when she thought she was brave) and prayed for her every night. I tucked her into bed, and carried her when ever I could. I never demanded she love me, held it against her when she rejected me, or got angry when she pushed me away. And slowly, ever so slowly, I could see the chinks forming in her armour - and slowly, I knew I was winning her over... and I knew I would. Because, I have a way with da ladies.
(still wearing her down)
Current Wife: You know what, you were right all those years ago (like you are right about everything, ever, in all of ever-ness!)* - you really are the man I needed.
Current Me: Yup, I know. And don’t look now, but I’m also the man you wanted. I am able to order your favorite food when we go to a restaurant - because I have watched you, listened to you, and learned what you like and don't like (instead acting out in a macho manly way). I am able to help make decisions - because I have the needs of our family deeply routed in my heart (instead of making decision because “I’m the man!”). I am the type of man who dose the right thing, even though it is hard and requires great strength (instead of being the quick tempered man).
So maybe I wasn’t the man that my wife wanted...
... but I am the man she needed.
And maybe I wasn’t the Father that Ping wanted...
... but I know I’m the Father she needs.
(totally wearing her down!)
So to all the Dads out there (or Moms) out there struggling with attachment issues - it’s all good. Love will come around. You just have to have a way with da Ladies**!
* = Edited by me, but it was SO implied in the statement though.
** = Or, boys... if you adopted a son.
About Forever Family...
We are a Christian family of 6 - pretty typical in that we are not typical at all. My wife and I have been married for over 13 years now, and have 4 children (so far). Our oldest child is our son K, who is 12 going on 30. Next in the line to the throne is our son D, who is 10, going on... well... 10.
Thankfully, after two boys, we had our first daughter, G who is 6 going on 16.
And then came our beloved Ping, who is 4, and who thankfully has stopped yelling at me in Mandarin. Ping was adopted from the Waiting Child's Program from China. She was 4 years old when we brought her home, and yes, she has a "special need" (though you would be hard pressed to figure out what it is). So I guess *technically* that makes us an "Adoptive Family of an Older Child from the China Waiting Child Program with Special Needs".
But more importantly, what it *really* makes us, is a Family.
Read more about our family at our blog here.