One of the biggest unresolved sadnesses of my life is that I do not have a joyful association with child birth. When Lydia was born, there was no tiny baby squeal. There was no long, lingering baby snuggle. There was no first family photo where I look exhausted but thrilled and Micah looks like a deer in the headlights. It’s selfish and sometimes I think it might be stupid. But I’m jealous of every single picture I see of someone like that. It’s something that obviously I’m still working out.
With Levi, we were in Connecticut when he was born in Oklahoma. My boy came into the world and I didn’t see it happen. I knew it was unlikely that I would, but I hoped. I was hoping for some kind of redeeming moment for what we had lost, though I know it is unlikely it would have made my horrible memory any better.
We’re about to be approved to be a waiting family again, and I’m trying to let go of my hope and desire to be present at the birth of our third child, and instead accept and recognize the specific kind of joy I have with the labor of adoption. I’ve been disgruntled with the process this time around, not because I’m not excited about a new little person, but I’ve been feeling resentment for all that I don’t have instead of being thankful for what I do have. I think it’s time to focus on the good, beautiful things and to recognize that, though carrying a baby for nine months and giving birth to it is different than adoption, there are a lot of things they have in common.
Our decision to add to our family through adoption was made the same way we likely would have chosen to have biological children. We talked. We prayed. We weighed the good and the bad. We decided.
Then we began the work. I will say, the work of adoption is a lot less fun than traditional methods of having children. But we began. And somewhere in the midst of our paperwork and meetings and insanity, I began to conceive of the idea that there was a child that God had for us, somewhere. There was no test. There was no gleeful moment of “WE’RE HAVING A BABY!” But there was a quiet moment of understanding that somewhere in the world was a woman who was making a choice. And we, through some miracle, would be a part of her choice.
I carry that understanding with me now. Every moment. And though I don’t feel a baby move or kick inside my belly, I am always aware that somewhere our baby IS. Maybe not entirely formed or formed at all, but somewhere, even if it’s just the mind of God, our third child IS. And soon, maybe not as soon as I would like, they will be with us.
As we finished paperwork and mailed off profile books, all I could think was “It’s starting.” It was all I could do not to burst into tears in front of the postal worker as I handed off our books. It’s starting. Labor. No, there isn’t a moment when my water breaks and I shriek in panic, “IT’S TIME!” and realize that any moment our baby will be born. It’s a long, slow, quiet labor. It could be days or it could be years. Holding our breath. Waiting to hear, to know that our third is real and here and ours.
The actual birth of our third child will likely be just like any other birth, whether I’m there to see it or not. And our first family photo together, whether it’s moments after the birth or days, it doesn’t really matter. Because we will be a family. Our third will come home.