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Adoption Blog: Inconceivable Family
Dark Emotions Post Adoption
It’s been well documented that most people travel through certain stages before they are really ready to adopt. If you are moving from infertility to adoption, those stages are dramatic and emotional. I think my husband and I lingered in every stage a bit longer than the typical adoptive couple. Sometimes I think I’m addicted my own emotions. I tend to wallow in them until I can’t breath.
Little is written about the stages of grief after adoption… yep, I wrote grief… grief after adoption. They are real and let me tell you that, if I had a nice time lathering myself up in the denial, anger, and despair of post-infertility blues, I got good and drunk off of post-adoption stress. Each day was like a 24-hour bar where the cocktail on special changed from resentment, to inadequacy, to denial… too many emotions to count.
The first wave came when we met our daughter for the first time. People we had met told us, “You’ll just fall in love at first sight” or “Once you see her it will all just fall into place.” Wow, were they wrong. For a number of reasons, the moment when we met Anna was one of the most difficult in my life. Walking into the room, meeting her birth mother, having the baby placed in my arms… ugh, I think of it now and I feel sick to my stomach.
I was riddled with guilt for having this, the most important moment in my life, be a day that her birth mom would remember as so sad for herself. There was little happiness for me because I was overwhelmed with what I thought I “should do.” Should I hug the birth mother? Should I talk about how happy I was? Should I say “thank you?” It all seemed too practiced and not enough. I was confused, exhausted, and filled with so many conflicting emotions. The idea that I’d fall in love at first sight was so far from down in the Pandora’s box of emotions, I just couldn’t grasp it.
Following this came a long period of denial. I refused to believe that this baby was going to be ours. I had separated myself from seeing her as a real human being who would be our daughter so much that the love I should have/could have felt was impossible to achieve. I didn’t want to be hurt. And after 6 years of hurt, I couldn’t let myself feel anything for her. I even told our counselor that I didn’t know if I would parent her. Nothing I was feeling was parental. Nothing in my heart felt natural for how a mom should feel when meeting her daughter. It was painful and heartbreaking… all the emotions I was trying to protect myself from feeling I was now bringing on myself.
The day that Anna was to be discharged brought another series of emotions to tackle. There was the possibility that her birth mother would not proceed with the adoption plan. Suddenly I wanted to grab Anna and run. I felt protective of her and I began to love her as I had imagined I would. I was scared and felt karma had brought this ironic twist because I had doubted my own emotions the night that we met. It was dreadful, a nightmare of hours when the questions in my mind and heart were battling with the reality of our situation.
Enter the beginning of our medical concerns for Anna. Only hours after the birth mother left the hospital and Anna was supposed to be packed up in her car seat, she vomited violently. It wasn’t the spit up of a typical baby. In fact, we would learn that it was the same vomiting that occurred the entire night before. We would also learn that Anna was not going to be coming home with us. She was going to sent to the NICU and she would be given a feeding tube. Suddenly a new emotion bubbled up. Inadequacy. Could I do this? Could I parent a baby with needs that we hadn’t foreseen? We had spent over $100,000 on infertility treatments and now were faced with who knows how much money in medical expenses…. money we simply did not have. How could we give her what she needed if we didn’t have it? It wasn’t just the money that I felt inadequate about, it was the ability to care for a baby with certain specific needs. I was a teacher for over a decade and I knew well how parents of children with needs dedicated their lives to those kids. I just didn’t know if I could be one of them. This baby deserved parents who didn’t question their ability to parent, and yet here I was doing just that.
The emotions of adoption don’t end here. They continue to this day. On a regular basis I can feel a mix of inadequacy and guilt. But I also feel something else; I am in awe of my fortune. I love this child beyond words and time. I cannot imagine that I am the same person who experienced all of what has been written. Often I am embarrassed by my own insecurities. I cannot believe I ever questioned my ability to love or parent this child and yet, as I would learn later, these emotions are not exclusive to adoption. When I gave birth nine months later, and the nurse said, “your daughter is here” I looked for Anna.
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Jenna NadeauNew Hampshire
I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
Recent Adoption Blog Comments
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