Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We get by with a little help from our friends

"You are better people than I," a friend said at the end of Game Night as we were telling the group a little bit more about Yun Gui's need for surgery.

How do you respond to that? Never one for silence, I found something to say.

"Yeah, well," I replied, "we're married, we're financially stable... we may as well, right?"

He shrugged. I'm sure he was only struggling with the image of having to bring a baby to the hospital; what an ordeal that would be. And thinking that he'd never want to suffer through it voluntarily. I'm sure, also, he was expecting a deeper answer than, "We had nothing better to do."

Yeah, we were just lying on the beach one day, counting horseshoe crabs, when we turned to each other and said, 'Let's do something really interesting, like drive to Arizona and back for Christmas. Or draw a comic book about mad scientists. Or hey, let's hang out at the pediatric ward and watch a baby get operated on. But where will we get a baby? Let's adopt one!'

See, I can be dismissive about it now, but a whole lot of Real Life has led us up to this point. A lot of things have happened over the years. (Some of it involved a comic book about mad scientists - I kid you not.) A lot of roads not taken and twists of fate and tough decisions. But they were our twists of fate and tough decisions. We claim full responsibility.

There was also my sister. As her older son developed asthma and the younger one suffered a string of illnesses, she gave me this sage advice: "If you want a baby, get ready to have a sick baby. All babies are sick babies at least part of the time." She made a good point!

Our adoption agent made another good point: "You can wait five years for a baby from China or two years for a baby from Poland. I also know of a China special needs program that has a wait of a year or less."

Later, she added more helpful advice: "The more special needs you check off on your request form, the better your chances are of being matched with a baby quickly."

And then there was the evening when my husband and I went to a restaurant and discussed this one little baby boy while we chowed down on burritos. Actually, we came to our decision before the burritos arrived.

"Everything just fell into place," my husband later observed. Our choice was hardly a choice at all! All the hard choices had already been made. All the agonizing, the soul-searching, the reality shocks, had already been gotten over with and had plenty of time to sink in.

We're still in awe and even a little terrified of what impending parenthood will bring. Of how Yun Gui will change our lives, our outlooks, our sense of normalcy. I can't say that adopting a special needs child is as trivial as eating a banana. But the anticipation we feel now is very different from what our friend was imagining. The shock is gone. It's been replaced with information and realistic expectations.

We're not better people than he is. We're just better prepared.

Another friend in that group is expecting twins. She and I laugh about how our due dates are very close together. We're both having summer babies! We were trying to explain to her three-year-old that all of the babies will arrive at the same time, but my baby will be bigger than her mom's. We showed her the picture, too. That might have helped.

That friend wants to throw me a baby shower. Good! I don't know the first thing about baby showers! I showed up at my sister's shower but I wasn't involved in the planning. Yeah, I know, I'm a rotten sister. I don't expect my sister to throw me one, either, since she has her two high-maintenance boys keeping her busy all the time. But if she starts talking about it...


What should I do? I already offered to let my Game Night friend throw me a shower at my house. Maybe she and I can have a co-shower. Her twins will be her 4th/5th children, so she might not otherwise get a shower at all. She certainly needs the stuff! Should I tell my family about those plans?

A baby shower on Cape Cod in the spring might be really nice...

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