Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baby Stories - Adopting

Adopting is a wild and wonderful thing. Wait, let me back up. Any time you bring a new child into your life, it's a wild and wonderful thing. I think back to when my son was born. It was such a strange time. I remember it fondly, but I also remember it being kind of weird. Like a strange dream. So many things happen so quickly. One moment we're sitting around my wife while she is being induced into labor, the next the doctor is telling me that my unborn child hasn't dropped enough and they're going to send us home for the weekend, then the next moment my wife's water has broken and we're being rushed in to perform an emergency C-section. Who prepares you for these things?

I often tell my friends (maybe they don't consider me a friend after I tell them) that being a new parent sucks for about the first three months. Your schedule is screwed, sleeping as you knew it is completely over and all your baby seems to do is shit and eat and cry. I don't think in those first three months I ever once sat back and said "wow, here's a brand new baby. Isn't this great?" There wasn't time. And I think I was having a major pity party for myself, thinking that I would never see a movie again. Or go out. Or drink a beer. Or sit in silence. Ever. Again. But then as time passes, your baby starts to form a personality. And they smile. And you start to form a new schedule. And all seems right in the world.

With adoption, it's a completely different story. Or at least with international adoption. You fill out your paper work, meet with lots of people, send in your paper work and then the adoption agency in China supposedly spends several back-breaking hours matching parents up with the right baby. There is no pregnancy. No snarls from my wife for doing something that usually wouldn't be wrong but is wrong because your wife is huge and uncomfortable and has to lash out at you because of it. No morning sickness, or afternoon sickness, or late night sickness (never understood why they called it morning sickness). No Captain Crunch with Crunchberries at 3 o'clock in the morning (I miss that). Nope. You get your baby usually when they're about a year old. So right now I'm thinking adoption is the best goddamn thing on the planet. The baby is already sleeping through the night. There's no meconium in the diaper, meaning I don't have power spray my baby's ass to wipe it. There's less crying and more personality. This is like a baby without all the baby stuff. I love it.

Well, I was wrong about all that as I am usually wrong when it comes to parenting. With adoption there are a whole slew of new challenges. Like sensory issues. Or attachment disorder. Try applying a diaper to a child who has spent most of her first year in a crib. Boy, that's fun. You touch her and she screams because the touch of someone else sends major warning signs to her brain and she panics. Or try talking to a doctor who has never dealt with sensory issues or attachment disorder and have that doctor tell you that your child may be autistic or perhaps mentally retarded. Even the simple things, like bottle feeding, are a challenge because your adopted baby is saying "who the hell are you? No seriously, who the hell are you? Are you temporary or in for the long haul? And why should I trust you? And that sleep thing that I thought would be handled already? It wasn't. For about the first 6 months or so, my daughter suffered from major night terrors. So at any given moment she would scream out bloody terror in her sleep.

But here I am having another pity party for myself. The truth is, I wouldn't change a thing. Not a single thing. As sick as my daughter was, and boy was she sick, overcoming it all and continuing to overcome it all has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And continues to be. The truth is, there is no easy plan. A baby is a baby is a baby. And just like parenting, once you think you've got it down, the scheme changes. The target never stays in the same place.

Boy have I rambled. I titled this post Baby Stories because my daughter always asks me to tell her baby stories about when we adopted her. And sometimes instead of cracking Dr. Seuss, I tell her a real story about her. This post will be the first of many "baby stories" I retell about the first days when we adopted our daughter.

Stay tuned.

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