Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Suddenly, it seems that the whole world is pregnant again. This year has been quiet, but it seems that the next one is going to be another festival of babies because last week, I was getting announcements at the rate of two per day. Not even exaggerating. And despite how happy I am mothering my babies (extremely happy) and how happy I am for my friends (happier than this, at long last) I'm surprised to find that the news can still really sting.

It's hard to work out why. Do I want to be pregnant at the moment? I honestly think that the answer is no. My medical stuff aside, even if I was guaranteed a live healthy baby at the end, I honestly think that the answer is no. Right now, adding that kind of chaos to this kind of chaos is not appealing. I think. Although I can't shake the rogue thought that it would be nice to at least have the choice.

Maybe it's to do with the babies growing up. They turn one this month, and I'm simultaneously elated and horrified. I can't believe how far they've come, physically. I can't believe how far we've all come in learning to understand each other. But I wanted a baby for so long, and then I had one (two!) and soon I won't. Stupid relentless unstoppable passage of time! I had hoped this year might be the exception to the laws of time and space, but it seems not, and I don't feel ready to leave their babyhood behind. We may decide to adopt again, and we may not. It's unclear. So we may have had our turn at cuddling squishy milky little babies; maybe that part of our life is over, and I can't help but feel a little sad about it. I know that dealing with that is hardly unique to adoption. Maybe every mother with growing-up children feels a pang when she hears about the next batch on their way. Maybe this is what leads women forty, fifty years on to accost young mothers in the supermarket and regale them with stories about their own days as a baby mother. Usually somewhere around the jam, for reasons unclear to me.

But I'm sure this isn't all of it. Because if I'm honest with myself, it's still particularly hard to hear about pregnancy successes of the formerly infertile. Together with my joy (real joy, finally) that dear friends are going to be mothers, I can't ignore a bit of disappointment that I'm crossing another person off my list as a potential real life adoption friend. There was a time, not so very long ago, that I thought it wouldn't really matter how our baby came to us - that the important thing was that we would belong to each other. And so I didn't think it would make any difference how my friends' children came to them, either. I knew that adoption loss was real, but I don't think I really faced up to the fact that it was lifelong. Because the further we go down the road as an adoptive family, the more and more and more I realise just how much we have all lost.

And yes - not just the children, us as parents too. It's all related, of course, and my losses mainly centre around lost ability to provide what I would like to give my children. It's a strange feeling to love two little people with all that I have, but to know that I can't give them a normal life with a normal family they can take for granted. To know that my life is absolutely unimaginable without them, but that the reverse is not true - that their life without me isn't just imaginable, it was absolutely real. To try to feel my way into giving them a proper family that doesn't try to pretend that their first family wasn't a proper family, too. I read the words of adult adoptees, and they change the way I think, and I am grateful. But sometimes I'm so aware of what I am not, to these children, that I feel unable to be what they need me to be without looking over my shoulder and making sure it is okay with every other triad member as well as our city's social services department.

I know it won't do them any favours if I hold them at arms length, emotionally, because these children do need mothering. I know it's a tragedy that their first mother couldn't be the one to do this, but in the end the job falls to me and I want to do it properly. But sometimes I feel like holding them at arms length, slightly away from me, is what I should be doing. If I show off the photos of my beautiful babies, sometimes I feel like I need to say at the end the author of this post does not wish in any way to minimise the loss and grief and pain of the children in these pictures. I know they look happy but we are already saving for therapy, okay? I feel so selfconscious about my love for them, sometimes. I scan what I've written above for signs of hopeless adoptive-parent entitlement, and yes, I can see that they are all there. I think of these babies as mine, feel personally proud of all their achievements, their lives are basically all about me and yes, being their mother makes me happy. Worst of all, I've talked about the fact that I've still got some of my own demons to face.

I would gladly do without this emotional complexity. I would gladly do without weighing every word. I wish I could give my babies an uncomplicated life. I wish I could give myself an uncomplicated life. I wish we could have an uncomplicated family. Somehow, magically, with exactly the same children, but joined by biology. And then I gasp at what I've wished for - I've just wished away their first parents! I've ignored their real adoption narrative and fantasised a new narrative with ME at the centre! I NEED TO BE PUNCHED IN THE FACE!

And so I think this is why I still reel a little when I hear about others managing to form their families in the normal way. Their families won't be better than ours. There's no way on this earth their children could possibly be cuter than ours. I could never, ever wish for any other babies than ours. But their experience of family sure is going to be different from ours. And sometimes it's hard not to wish that the four of us could have that too.

By the way - I've installed a new commenting system that should allow replies to comments. It seems the least irritating of the options available, but it's hard to know for sure. If you want to comment, but can't make it work, or just find it too annoying, leave a comment on an old post to let me know. Thanks!