Tuesday, January 4, 2011


When Colin was a toddler, his parents attended a workshop about how/when/why to adopt a second time. They shared with me afterward that they were surprised (and comforted) to get the advice: the question is not so much whether you want to adopt again, the question is whether you want more kids. I thought that was pretty neat, and a very tidy and academic way to simplify the whole thing. I liked it. I liked that it had a nice "normal" ring to it. (I had no real feeling on whether I wanted them to adopt again. I felt about it like I feel about my neighbor having more kids: it's their family, I'm sure they'll make the best decision for them. I didn't feel strongly one way or the other about C having siblings, if I had I probably would have placed him with a couple who was already parenting.) In the end, they chose not to pursue another adoption, and we all went about our business.

Fast forward almost a decade, and to Jeb and me playing in his room.
Jeb (handing me a small toy dump truck): Here, mama, this is for Jeb Baby. (he's convinced the baby's name will also be Jeb.)
Me: Oh, thank you! What a great big brother you are!

I went in the next room to put some clothes away, thinking about what a cool moment we'd just shared, and the Whether To Adopt Again Workshop experience came flooding back.

Whether or not you want to parent more children is SO NOT the only or biggest concern when you are thinking about another adoption. I know I've never been there, but I know how I feel about Jeb. And I know adoptive parents feel that same way about their children. And I know it would have been a much more involved decision between husband and me than just "let's go for it!" one night in November.

I know I wouldn't be talking to Jeb about a baby joining us in the Summer, even if we were matched.

I know I wouldn't be weaving the baby in and out of our play and chat, slowly getting Jeb used to the idea.

I might have to choose between giving Jeb lots of preparation to share his time and space with mommy and daddy, and protecting him from getting his hopes up.

I would have to think about whether I was willing to turn his world upside down on very short notice.

I know there are so many more heavy and complicated emotions I'd be having that I can't even fathom here.

Even if I were to lose the baby right now, that conversation with Jeb would be ten times easier than a conversation about a failed match. Life and death seem a lot easier to explain to a child than potential adoptions and last minute decisions to parent.

For a moment, I put myself in the position of having this desire to give Jeb a sibling, having the excitement of a possibility, and trying to exercise caution by holding that excitement back. What a wild place it was, even for a hypothetical moment. And even in a hypothetical place, I can't imagine what it feels like to put his emotions and hopes on the line, and possibly see them dashed. What a horrible experience that must be.

So, I know this is all terribly awkward, but it was such a powerful "a ha!" moment for me. One that brought me to my knees with gratitude.

I don't know what it's like to be an AP, but I'm pretty sure the decision to adopt again goes far beyond whether or not you simply want more children.