Monday, February 25, 2013

All in the Family

It’s a sleepy day; the overcast sky is a washed out, flat gray. Thick clouds are spitting freezing rain and everyone is running, head down, to the nearest entrance. Jackets and mufflers are spattered with tiny ice droplets and everyone’s hair is matted down in wet tangles. On days like this, my mind always turns to babies. I think it’s the sadness of the bleary day that magnifies the sadness of knowing I’ll never give birth to a baby.
We’ll never experience the magic of sweaty palms and tingly stomachs as we hold hands and wait for two pink lines to appear. Together, we’ll never have that moment when we realize, “This is real, this is it! We’re going to be parents! We’re going to be someone’s mommy and daddy!” We won’t have funny stories to share of my pickle and grape jelly cravings at 2am or him eating take-out food in the garage because I couldn’t stomach the smell. I won’t have the gauzy, glowing memory of seeing our tiny baby for the very first time on a blurry, black and white ultrasound screen. I won’t pour over “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” books, wondering if it’s normal to have an achy back, dull hair, and fat feet. I will never know the joy of feeling a brand new human moving for the very first time, aimlessly passing the months with teensy kicks and jabs. The baby book won’t be filled with endless pictures of my growing belly. I’ll never experience the bliss that comes when all the hard work has paid off, the pain has subsided, and my itty bitty baby, all pink and squinty, is handed to me.
We’ll never be able to play that game of “Oh, she has your nose and your mom’s ears! And, I’m sad to report, your Uncle Vern’s toes.” As she grows up, as babies inevitably do, we won’t find ourselves blaming her quirky personality traits on one another’s family genes. If she’s particularly flighty, we won’t say, “Typical, just like a White, through and through.” When she makes straight A’s, we won’t playfully argue over which of us passed our brains along to her, though it would be me, of that I’m certain.
But, and it’s a big but, through the world of adoption, we can have our baby! Should we be so blessed to be chosen as parents, I hope our daughter knows that she is no less loved, no less wanted than if she were our own biological child. In fact, we may want her even more due to the fact that we have spent years trying everything within our power to get her. I hope she knows that even though she won’t have my nose or her Daddy’s soft voice, she’ll have free run of our hearts, our attention, and our happiness.
The nursery she’ll come home to will be filled with pictures, fuzzy around the edges with age, of people who loved her long before she existed; white haired grandmas who held me close while I cried, worried that she would never be ours. Tall, beefy uncles who clipped newspaper articles about adoption agencies and offered financial advice. Sweet, brown-eyed cousins who took us out to dinner to offer their support. Mothers who listened to every word of fear and uncertainty, multiple times, and still responded with, “It’ll happen. It will.” without a twinge of doubt in their voices.  Dads who never tired of hearing the doubts, and always offered full support.
No, her baby book won’t have monthly in utero growth updates. But, it WILL be filled with notes from us telling her how much we want her, how excited we are to meet her, how very loved she is. We’ll balance out all that kitten, rainbows, and chocolate chip filled whimsy with helpful hints about the family she’ll call her own. Hint: Mama CANNOT sing but that doesn’t stop her from belting out Elvis hits at the top of her lungs. Also? Daddy can’t merge into traffic without losing his ever-loving mind. The binding will be stretched and frayed, the pages stuffed with pictures of her big brothers, who if it helps at all, don’t resemble one another any more than she’ll resemble us. Along with the pictures will be stories of the two amazing great grandmas she’ll be named after: ladies from a bygone era who left a legacy of strength, humor, and resiliency. Lorraine who, at age of 50, decided she wanted to be a nurse and so that’s just what she did, graduating at the top of her class. And Addie, who lived to the ripe old age of 90 and surrounded herself and all of her life in bright cherry red happiness, loving everyone so hard, she almost made your heart burst.
THIS, this is the family she’ll be born into. We may not all be biologically related, but we love each other fiercely, rejoice in one another’s happiness, and support each other in our moments of sadness. And, really, isn’t that what family is all about? Not a similarly shaped face or the unfortunate curse of male pattern baldness, but a shared sense of  friendship that runs so deep, these people become pieces of our hearts, forever a part of our very essence. And trust me on this, it’s a Bible-beating, old time religion miracle if anyone can manage to escape the curse of inheriting my skin or B's teeth.
To make up for missing all those pre-birth belly dances and karate kicks, I have firm plans to pinch her cheeks and tussle her soft, fuzzy head until I get my fill, which I’m not sorry to say kiddo, won’t happen. I hope she won’t mind a quick hair tussle on her 30th birthday or a cheek squeeze on her 50th. And when she’s here, we won’t think another thought about what we “missed.” We’ll be too busy welcoming our baby girl to the world.