August 03, 2009

Fear

After a truly blissful weekend full of spending time with family and great friends, I find myself on this Monday afternoon anxious and full of fear. I suppose the most imminent of these fears is the fact that Sadie is beginning kindergarten next week. Just 10 short days left until that fateful day when she will spend more of her waking hours at school than with me. I know that she is beyond ready to start school and will do great there, but I am totally not ready to send her off to the wolves. I know it is a little ridiculous, but I swear I am terrified that she'll turn into a completely different person when she starts school. I have this picture in my head of her getting off the bus on that first day and suddenly seeming way to grown up. It is just hard to let go. Now I am crying- dang it! I am just resigned to the fact that when I drop her off on the first day, someone will probably have to sedate me!

But more than this, I am being gripped by a different kind of fear than I've ever felt before. It is so easy to write about how excited I am about this adoption that sometimes my anxiety about it gets swept under the rug. In an effort to be completely honest, I just feel like I can't only write about the good stuff. I can remember crying all night before going into the hospital to have Sadie. Mostly that was the fear of the unknown, impending pain. Then there were tears all the way to the hospital to have Noah. That was fear of changing our already happy little family. I mean, we loved being a family of three. We could function that way. We could take vacations. I could get through Kroger just fine, thank you. How would I manage with 2 kids? But this fear that I have now is completely different. I feel like I am fighting against hundreds of years of deeply rooted racism. I can't imagine how a child must feel to leave a place where everyone looks like you to come to a place where no one in your family looks like you. I am worried about attachment issues. What if this little child hates me? I also worry about how I will feel about the child. I'll admit that I bonded with Sadie instantly after she was born. But with Noah, it took a little while. I faked it for weeks. It's not that I didn't love him. I was overwhelmed with love for him, but we just didn't bond immediately. In the adoption world it seems like their is so much pressure to attach. What if that doesn't happen right away for me?

When we get to the referral part of this adoption we are planning on asking for a boy. We are also asking that he be 2 or younger. I don't know how many times I have heard something along the lines of, "Oh my God! There is nothing cuter than little black babies! I mean they are soooo cute!" Sometimes this is also followed by, "Black babies are so much cuter than little white babies!" I am sure that these are things that all of the other adoptive parents have heard. But I am also well aware of how this country full of white women holds their purses just a little tighter when they pass a black man in the parking lot. When does the feeling change over? Let's just get it out there- these adorable little black boys will grow up to be black men. At what point does our society begin to stop thinking of these darling black boys as cute and start fearing them? I am getting mad just thinking about it. I am not one to judge on race, but we're all guilty of thinking that we're better than someone else for some reason. Sometimes for me, it about education. Or thinking I'm a better parent than someone else. I'll catch myself doing it and it just about drives me crazy that I even had the thought! But I wonder how it will be for my child to experience racism for being black. And not just for being black, but for having white parents. And white siblings. How will I handle it. I wonder if it will be hard for him to find a place to fit it. Will he be accepted into the white community? Will he be accepted into the black community? Will he feel trapped in the middle? We so desperately want to integrate African culture into our family. I want our son to be proud of his heritage. I want us to truly be a beautiful trans-racial family. I just feel like I can read every book, article, and blog out there about raising multi-cultural families (and believe me, I have) but I won't have any idea how to really do it until we've experienced it.

Then there is the issue of hair. I know that this may be the stupidest thing I have put out there into the blogoshpere, but I have a lot of fear about caring for African-American hair. I can barely manage to comb through Sadie's mop, much less figure out how to care for hair that has serious care needs! I love Afros and dreadlocs! But I don't know the protocol. Is this acceptable for kids? Will my child get some crazy label because his crazy, white mother is totally clueless!

Maybe I am worrying about these things too much. It is different when you're pregnant. I feel like I have a different perspective having had biological children and now going through the adoption process. There is no comparison. In this process I feel like I have NO control. When I was pregnant, I could chose what was happening. I could give my baby the proper nutrition. I could nurture and protect those unborn babies AND I pretty much knew when they'd make their grand entrance into the world. Adopting is all about letting go of the control. (If you know me at all, you know that I am so NOT good at this.) You have no idea when your baby will be coming home. I don't even know that my child out there is even getting food to eat. Every time I sit down to a meal now, I almost feel guilty that I am eating. Moms out there- you know that if you sit down at the table, if there was not enough to go around, that you would gladly go without. But with this, I can't even ensure that my child will have a full belly when he goes to bed at night, and this is haunting me. I am glad that there are people out there with the heart to adopt from countries with years long waiting lists, but I am also thankful that that is not what God is asking of me, because I KNOW that I could not handle it!

Well, this blog just took a serious turn toward way too personal. I wish that this process was all roses and clovers, but these are my genuine fears. I so know in my heart that this is the right thing for my family, but that does not change the fact that I am still terrified of the unknown. So for fear that I'll delete the whole dang post, I'll just hurry up and hit "publish" before I change my mind on putting the good, the bad and the ugly out there.

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