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Adoption Blog: Man Up!

Can I Love Another?

Can I love another child as much as I love my son?

That is a question I have been asking myself lately. As we get closer to adopting another child, it's difficult for me to imagine that it could be possible. Maybe it's because I have spent the last four years concerned only with Manu -- our son we adopted from India in 2009 -- his well-being, and his happiness? Maybe I'm worried about upsetting the balance of our established family? Maybe because he is real and she is still something of an abstract idea? I'm not sure. I hope I can; I believe I can; but right now I'm finding it hard to attach to the idea of another child.

Perhaps that question is common for second-time parents? I‘m not sure. Maybe it's just me.

The adoption process itself hasn't helped my feelings. We're currently six months into our second adoption and, frankly, it just doesn't seem real. But it is real enough -- real enough that it has taken real time from our lives and real money from our bank account. But something is missing this time, some connection between me and the process, but I can't quite put my finger on it. At this point -- our homestudy has been completed; our dossier has been notarized, verified, certified, authenticated, and sent overseas; and several very large checks have been written -- it just doesn't feel like my daughter is at the end of it all...just a lot of stamped papers. I think I'm suffering from a bad case of adoption fatigue.

It wasn't like that with our first adoption. From the moment we decided to adopt, I felt connected to every step of the process and I felt like I had already bonded with my child-to-be, even before we received his referral. I guess you could chalk that up to being first-time parents and new to the adoption process. There were plenty of times when I was scared to death of becoming a new father and traveling to India, but I always felt like I was in the moment.

So far, this second adoption has felt monotonous and impersonal. Though there was some comfort in knowing what to expect as we once again gazed upon the long list of items we would need to tackle for our homestudy, to me it felt like a chore as we systematically checked-off each item, one-by-one. I also found myself resenting having to disclose more personal, medical, and financial information to anyone who asked. Did we really need three background checks and two more sets of fingerprints? When will it be enough to prove to the world that I can parent a child? I do understand why all of this is done, don't get me wrong, but it really rubbed me the wrong way this time.

Of course, that says a lot more about me than it does the system. Checks and balances are in place to protect children -- I get that, and I wouldn't change a thing. But I think going through this process for a second time has touched a nerve. Rational or not, I feel as though my worth as a person and a parent are being questioned. Why am I subjected to this scrutiny while other parents are not? Why do I have to come up with 10 times the amount of money to have a child than other parents? My ego is bruised, that's it in a nutshell, and I'm afraid that I might be letting my hurt feelings and annoyance with the system cloud my feelings about the adoption in general.

Now that we're waiting for a referral, I'm moving past all of that and beginning to envision life as a family of four -- or I'm trying to, at least. It seems that, every time I think about it, I find it hard to focus on what our beautiful daughter might be like and how wonderful it will be when we're together. Instead, my thoughts drift to: do we have enough money, what about medical care, what about child care, is our house big enough, how will I make it to work on time? I'm a worrier by nature, to which my wife will readily attest, and I tend to envision worst-case scenarios whenever I am stressed-out or faced with uncertainty, and international adoption is far from certain or stress-free.

What I need is a picture. A picture of her to ground me in the moment and remind me why I have subjected myself to this, again. I need to be reminded that it's not about the process, it's about a little girl and a family who need each other and will be made more whole as a result.

I know that when it's all said and done, I'll find most of my fears unfounded; they were last time. I think what it boils down to is that I'm just as nervous about becoming a dad for the second time as I was the first, and maybe I wasn't expecting that. I can't imagine life without Manu, and I know in my heart that it will be the same with her. I genuinely want a daughter, I know that for sure, and when I'm holding my little girl in my arms, the uncertainty will be gone, and all of this intrusiveness will have been worth it. I know this because, like many of you reading this, I've been there before.

So, to answer the question of can I love another child as much: yes, I can.

But for now, I wait.

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It was amazing to me how different the experience was the second time around.  My husband also had concerns he could not love another child as much, which still makes me laugh as he has the most giving heart.  I found i was worried about how this would effect our oldest, and whether he should be an oldest or an only, which i never even considered before he came home. 

I agree with your comments about the paperwork.  As a newbie, I thought “this is what we have to do”.  The second time around it was torture, I felt like “I’ve already done this, can’t we just get to the good part?” 

Best of luck to you! Hope your daughter is home soon.

By jszmom on Thursday, August 01, 2013 at 3:36 pm.

I could have written this piece. I felt it all. Now, there are fleeting moments of worrying I am shortchanging my 8-year-old because of all the overwhelming love I feel for my 16-month-old. Then we all snuggle together and there is such a connection between us all that I am reminded there is plenty of love to go around. Appreciate all those feelings. They are real. They are certainly valid. But remember to appreciate the good moments just as much!

By DanaT on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm.

You can and will - but it’s not a question of “not as much”, it’s not the same - a completely new person is about to join you, and you will learn to love who they are. It may not be a picnic - our first year it as the mountain and the immovable object joined in full out warfare.  (our girls are only 14 months apart and the second joined us as a 2.5 year old toddler with big opinions) They both came out of it better - Princess One and Only toughened up, became a sister, while the tiny terrorist calmed down and learned to take no for an answer. Plenty of times when we wondered what we had done, why we had ruined our wonderful little family. The thing to keep in mind is that you are no longer a family of three, but evolving into something new, new relationships, new dynamics - and change can be hard sometimes. No you can’t give the second child the undivided attention that your first got, the fate of second children regardless of origin. You have to figure out how to share yourself, and that takes work.  The day we adopted our second child, our new daughter was sitting on my lap while # 1 was running around the hotel lobby. She smacked into a wall and came running to me for comfort - only to find my lap occupied - I still recall the stricken look on her face - her life changed in that moment.
But now they love (and fight) like sisters, not deadly opponents. We carve out “Me” time for each of them and try to strengthen their unique identities. We are a family.

By jwpines on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm.

It is similar to having a second biological child. In the end, adopted or biological, you love them all.

Rami Amaro
Amaro Law Office

By Rami Amaro on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:06 am.

This is an excellent portrayal of ACTUAL emotions!  Thank you for sharing.  You’ve helped me understand 1.  my husband’s viewpoint and 2. that what we’re feeling is normal.

By jcwelby on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 3:35 pm.

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