Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Will we adopt her?

The short answer is Yes.

The long answer is Yes, but I feel a little guilty about it. Here's the thing, Brooklyn has been with us for 18 months so far. When she came to our house she was mostly emotionally non-expressive, couldn't walk, didn't crawl, and wouldn't (or couldn't) talk.

Now she is a happy (if temperamental), healthy, walking, running, skipping, trying to jump, almost 3 year old, part of our family. She has made so much progress in the last year and a half and she in incredibly bonded to our daughters. It's been our honor to watch her transform.

So, we simply can't imagine NOT adopting her. I also can't imagine the consequences of moving her to another home at this point. As much as neglect was involved in her state when she came to us, I know that part of it was the abrupt transition, too. She must have been scared sick, and it took her A LONG TIME to come out from wherever she was before. So even if we could wrap her heads around her not being with us, I don't have any mental space to contemplate what her being somewhere else would look like.

That said, we certainly weren't planning to adopt again, especially someone who is four months younger than our youngest. I worry about the impact this will have on our family in the long term. I know it means that Lily and Lucy will not have some of what they might have if we stuck to just two. Attention for one, cars for another :) But they love Brooklyn, and she loves them.

I feel guilty because I'm not over the moon excited about adopting her. I can't help but think about what we felt when we knew Lily would finally (FINALLY) be available for adoption. I worry about whether those feeling show through. I know that I don't consciously treat my children differently, but I worry that a part of her gets it.

And then a couple of weeks ago, PB and I sat on a preservice panel - the last meeting of training for new foster parents. Brooklyn was with us, and sitting behind the table where we were. I saw a few couples in the room looking at her and smiling, and I knew. They were us. The us of four years ago. Any one of those couples would feel about adopting Brooklyn like we felt about adopting Lily. What right did I have to stand in the way of that?

I've been poking at these feelings for quite some time now, and I think part of it, too, has to do with the fact that quite simply, she hasn't been *mine* for as long. The reality is that I brought home Lily as a tiny, tiny, baby and she was mine LONG before she was officially mine. That's why I was so sick at the thought of her leaving. She has (almost) always been MY child. Admitting that is tough, because it means that I didn't really want her to reunify, as much as I wanted to want her to reunify.

But I think I feel more like a foster mom to Brooklyn. She was, quite simply, someone else's child. She saw her mom a lot. Her mom was working very hard to get her back, and I was doing what a good foster mom would do - I loved her, and I did whatever I could to facilitate a bond between Brooklyn and her mom. I fed her, and bathed her, and played with her, and loved her. But the reality is that I loved her like I loved someone else's child. Not just any child... more like I love my nephew - I'd be really, really, really sad if he was gone, for instance, but my life wouldn't crumble.

I don't know if that makes sense. But in the last few weeks I've done a lot of thinking and lot of rehashing with PB. Understanding the Brooklyn is ours, and loving her like she's ours will be part of the process of adopting her. Those other couple at the panel aren't us. They haven't loved Brooklyn for 18 months. She's just part of our family, and so, of course, she will stay.


Carmel said...

I so appreciate your post. You put into words a lot of feelings I experience with the kids in my home. You care for and love them but they aren't 'yours' so the attachment is different.

TeamWinks said...

What you said makes complete sense. I don't believe that love is instant. I honestly feel it's something that grows with time. You've in a sense guarded your heart thus far. Only time will tell...

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere once that they have to "be yours" as long as they "weren't yours" to really "be yours". How you describe your relationship with Brooklyn in many ways is how my relationship with Macks started. We were never lead to believe she WOULD BE ours. We loved her and cared for her, but with an understanding that she would leave. But she never did. And one day(literally) I realized I had a 2+ yr old who Id had since she was 7 months old and now she would BE MINE. I felt like shit about it(not suggesting anyone else should just sharing that I did) I had so many regrets about her babyhood and WISHED I had been some how MORE attached to her babyhood. I was objectively--ahhh I hope you understand. At the same time she was growing from babyhood to toddler hood we had another baby who we were told WOULD BE ours. Only he left and she stayed...and well you cant change the past. It didn't take long. She is SO MINE now. Like you said about your girls, it was the same in our house. My girls were all SO close and while we probably had an idea sooner than you did(but maybe not it was at about the 18month mark) that she would stay--there were still threats that loomed over my head that she would go. We didn't end up finalizing until Oct 10, she was placed with us August 06. Your right she should stay, congrats! girls are just SO FUN ;) (laughing)


Deborah said...

Wow. It must be hard to be going through all these feelings. Although in a way it's totally different, in other ways it's not so different from someone who has a "surprise" pregnancy. I think that in the end, you'll see all 3 as yours and love them all like they're your own and won't be able to imagine your family another way. But in the meantime, I wish you luck.

JUST A MOM said...

YAY! It will come full into your heart that all along she HAS BEEN YOURS!!!!!!!