Friday, October 29, 2004

More Words from the Groovy and Wise

Here's another post from Groovy Aunt. Smartmom was, as you can imagine, quite moved by this one. It's about what happens when people are supportive and say the right thing. And what a difference it makes. For more words from that groovy girl, go to

The Kindness of Strangers
by Groovy Aunt

Once you make the decision to adopt, you become part of a large community of people who have adopted and are eager to share their experiences with you. Perhaps I have been lucky, but all the stories I have heard have been extremely positive. Most people who have adopted, especially internationally, have said the experience is completely life changing, not only because you now have a little one to love , but also because of the incredible experience of getting out of one's own life and seeing how the other half live, so to speak.

Many have shared the heartbreak of seeing so many needy children holed up in orphanages. And of course, one is suddenly thrust into the realities of third world poverty and struggle. The adoption community has been embracing, kind and forthright. To them, I say, thank you for sharing all of your experiences with me.

I have been touched by the kindness of strangers - people who have offered advice, information and hope. S. is one such person who lives here in Park Slope. My sister mentioned her to me months before I was anywhere near contemplating adoption. I was still on the infertility merry-go-round and any mention of adoption felt like a jinx upon my in-vitro process. My sister remembers me lashing out at her and saying " No, I don't want to speak to her about adoption..." I was obviously not ready.

After some of the grief had begun to lift over the loss of not having my own biological child, I began to comtemplate the idea of adopting. My husband and I had endured too-many-to-count artificial inseminations, 4 failed in-vitros, and one ectopic pregnancy which was one of the saddest experiences of my life. I knew I was finished with the medical path after my doctor told me that our last donor egg transfer had failed because of bad "egg karma."

The truth is, I had always felt sorry for adopted children, wondering who their "real" parents were. I remember distinctly, at a young age, feeling badly for my friends who had been adopted. Perhaps these feelings were prevalent because adoption was very hush hush in the 1960's. Or maybe it seemed scary because it highlighted every child's fear of being left alone and parentless. In any case, I realized that many of my negative attitudes about adoption had accompanied me into adulthood. Obviously, I was going to have to face them head on as I began the journey towards adopting my child.

I finally called S. one day and she shared her beautiful story about adopting her son from Colombia. She was informative, positive, and so happy -- her enthusiasm was infectious. I ran into her a few times with her adorable toddler in tow and kept her up to date on our progress. She always asked, in the most gracious fashion, how things were going. She always prefaced a question by saying," I hope you don't mind me asking." I completely welcomed her questions and support.

One morning I saw her from across the street and she touched her chin in a gesture of "chin up". This was soon after I had told her about some delays we were experiencing. The gesture was such a sensitive reminder that she had traveled a similar path. Recently, I told her about our progress and the current state of limbo waiting for our "referral" ( i.e. a picture of our child), and her eyes welled up and she said "I have chills". Obviously, my experience brought up memories of the difficult waiting period that she had also endured. She also reminded me that the wait was worth the precious prize at the end. A baby to love

Adoption is a unique journey towards parenthood. There is no swelling belly, shopping for maternity clothes, sonograms, or morning sickness. It is sometimes hard to feel like an expectant mother at all. Instead, one is overwhelmed by documents, fingerprints,notaries, apostiles and inquisitive social workers. When I am feeling frustrated and impatient, I think of S's gesture, a finger brushing her chin that seemed to offer so much. And I appreciate the powerful connection between strangers who quickly become friends


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