Today was one of those days when you force yourself to take a shower, just so you can cry without scaring the children. I am not one of those women who hides emotion from my kids, I think that the sooner they view me as a human person, with real feelings, the nicer they will be to me when they are teenagers. *This is an untested theory, but I plan to let you all know if it works out.
I don't hide my emotions from them, but I also try really hard to not scar them for life either. If nothing else, I want to create the illusion that their mother is a sane woman... but, the kind of crying that I had to get done today was the kind that shatters such an illusion. The cry on the agenda was the kind that really needs a good amount of water pressure to drown out.
After my shower-fit, I mustered the strength to pack up some of our maybe-baby's things and walk them over to the community food pantry. As it turns out they "graciously accept donations" during two 45 minute windows of time during the week. I had not arrived during one of these windows. I don't get it! First I try to give these items to the birthmother, and that didn't work out, and now even the food pantry is against me. By the time I walked back, my mother-in-law Cindy pulled into the driveway and saw me standing on my porch like a zombie, holding a bag of bottles and formula and diapers. Unlike the food pantry, my sweet mother-in-law "graciously accepts donations" at all hours of the day.
So, Day 24, I put a bag of baby things in the back seat of my MIL's car and she will deliver them to a local mission. Kind of a flop, I know... but, my expectations for today was just to make it into the shower to cry, so, sadly, this was really a mind-blowing accomplishment.
Apart from that, we are all just sort of processing in our own way. Some people have asked if I regret that we brought the kids with us to Manhattan, and would I do it differently next time? In a word: nowayjose.
Here is what I am thinking... Was this a painful experience for the kids? Absolutely it was. They are feeling confused, maybe a little guarded as far as the "next baby" goes, and they are very disappointed. The bottom line is that in the past week I have heard my kids (2, 5, 7 and 8 years old) discuss the pros and cons of parenting vs. making an adoption plan, evaluate socioeconomic issues like poverty and homelessness, as well as how different cultures view adoption. These have been heavy conversations, but I have got to believe that my kids are developing an usually mature understanding of life and issues outside themselves. My hope is that they are being seasoned in a way that is painful, yes, but also very growing. And I can't wait to see the compassion, the sense of social consciousness, and the cultural sensitivities that these understandings will develop in them. I may be biased, but I have got to believe that kids who have these kinds of discussions at such an early age... are just going to be awesomer for it.
So, no, I do not regret including my children in on such a potentially amazing experience. The bottom line is that I really wanted Harper to see exactly how we felt when we came to meet him. I wanted him to see how we frantically packed and prepared when we got the call that we had a baby and "it's a boy!" I wanted him to feel the same anticipation we felt for him. I wanted him to see all of us rejoicing in the birth of this tiny, brown baby, and he could think "Oh, this must be just what they felt when they met me."
I told him that today, that Mommy and Daddy are so sad because we wanted this little boy so very much to be in our family. I said that we wanted him that much too, and that we would have been so sad if we hadn't gotten him. He looked at me with those dark eyes and said, "But you weren't sad then, because you did get me..." Then he did a slow, dreamy blink with his long false-looking eyelashes and added with a sigh,
"You got me forever."
I know that this baby was not mine to keep. I know that this baby was meant to be in a different home. I know that I will probably wonder about him constantly for a while, and from time to time down the road. I know that I loved him as much as anyone could have in my position, and I know that I loved his birthparents as much as I possibly could. The truth is that God is who He says He is and He was here first... so, how He chooses to act, or not act, in any given situation is really none of my business. In light of that, I am just trying to remember His promises to me, and I believe that He has called us into this adoption journey for a second time, not to torture us, but to teach us something we could not learn any other way. And, in the end, I will get to look into the dreamy, slow-motion eyes of my last baby and I will know, that this one is forever.