I haven't written about adoption for a little while, so you might think I'm not thinking about it much these days or maybe it has slipped into such a state of normalcy that it is normal now. But you'd be wrong.
I still think about adoption all the time. I'm not going to go so far as to say every day, and I certainly don't think about it in terms of worry and wait and fear like I used to, pre-finalization. But I still have many thoughts, concerns, worries, fears, joys, thankfuls and other moments along those lines all the time.
For example, sometimes I will turn my head and catch a glimpse of the silky smooth brown skin so different from my own and be amazed. Amazed at how different it feels and looks, how pretty the shadows around her eyes are, how amazing and sometimes strange the change in pigmentation is. I watch with wonder as her skin darkens to cocoa in the summer sun, turns ashy when its gotten too dry, and retains this flawless quality so common to black women.
Other times I'll watch her wondering if that little skip in her step is genetic, what her birth-mother looks like, if they share the same cute stubby toes. I have no clue what her grown up face might look like someday, if her impossibly long lashes came from her birth-father, if she'll be tall or short. We know some small details about her genetic history, but we've never seen her birth-parents and so I often think on these things.
There are times when Carly dresses herself or refuses to have her hair combed or falls down and scraps something (usually her face, [sigh]) and I feel afraid. Afraid because I know people are looking at her closely all the time. First because she is magnetic and beautiful and cute, second because they are examining the puzzle pieces of our family with unusual scrutiny. I know the horror stories of adoption, I've heard them too. I want to put a button on that says I love her, that affirms she fell down on her own, that promises I do comb her hair on a regular basis, the broadcasts her closet is overstuffed with clothes. This is my own fears and paranoia hard at work. Because there is always, for me, always a sense of unsettled fear. What if someday Carly decides I am not what she wanted as her mother. What if someday her birth-mother comes looking and Carly eagerly answers. What if someone cruel decides to take her away.
I often feel sad that Carly has no relationship with her birth-family. Possible siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, mother and father. No, I don't want her to live with them or even visit them. But I wouldn't mind some contact, some reassurance for Carly that she was given up for love, that she was given a chance for something different outside a dangerous world. I'd like to show them that we do love her, that she sings, that she's happy, that she's got toys and shoes and clothes and nail polish and joy. That she's smart and funny. She's loud and crazy. She's cuddly and sweet.
The path my little girl walks is so very different from my own growing-up experience. I often feel incompetent as I try to guide her steps. Adoption and all its terrible wonder is part of my every breath, my every move, my every day life.
And I'm so grateful.