Adoption: Another Kind of Miracle

By Amy Rackear, C.S.W.

Adoption, for many of you, is a prospect that elicits great anxiety. It implies that your medical intervention may fail, and this can certainly be a painful and threatening suggestion. I remember.

On tiptoes and with unprecedented trepidation, I approached the threshold of adoption. I searched within myself for any predisposition or bias that might curtail my ability to effectively parent a child to whom I was not genetically linked. I asked myself that most chilling of questions: "Could I love him?" he whose face mirrored neither my hazel eyes nor my husband's gently aquiline nose. "Would I love him?" a baby whose heartbeat did not result from my husband's embrace. "Will I love him?"

One night, when his delivery was imminent, the years of trying-and changing-culminated in a single thought. His homecoming, should it be actualized, would be a real product of our love. It was our courage, tears, patience and understanding; it was our commitment to each other and prayer for a child with whom to share our gifts; it was love that finally allowed this moment. Together we would bring our baby home. And therefore, our family grew not from one, but a thousand embraces. "Do I love him?" My son has forever altered my concept of that word and the world. He has taught me mother love.

Adoption demands that we ask ourselves that which is perhaps unanswerable in the abstract: Can I love unconditionally, and in the manner unique to parents, a child to whom I am not biologically related? Concomitant fears are numerous and prevalent among those considering adoption. Will I bond with a baby bearing little or no resemblance to me or my spouse? Will I be more than a caretaker for another's child? Will he be healthy/attractive/adequately bright? Will my extended family welcome him? ...Will he or she love me?

And more pragmatically: What will the homestudy be like (is the apartment big/clean/decorated enough)? Does our income meet the criteria? Am I too old? Will I be able to talk with a birthmother? Will the birthparents like and accept us? How will I fare abroad, in China/Latin or South America/Russia?

In the process that is infertility, we are often encouraged to evaluate the dynamics that propel our journey toward parenthood. Those of us who leave our physicians' offices with arms still empty must address additional issues.

While these reflections will not allay your fears, may you gain comfort in knowing that such doubts are common, and possibly universal among those considering adoption. The hurdles are not insurmountable; the take-home baby rate is high; the joy is boundless. That notwithstanding, each of us must find our own answer, then define and create our family accordingly, as we reclaim tomorrow and discover anew the gift of life.

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