Sunday, February 28, 2010

Future Think

I suppose it's not a surprise that, 2 1/2 years after the birth of Thumper, we've been thinking a lot about a second child. No, Aerie's not pregnant; we've just been thinking and talking and thinking and talking. I'm far more convinced than Aerie on the subject; she wavers back and forth and back again. I want another. Thumper needs a sibling, I have no doubt, and I want an extension on this stay-at-home dad contract of mine. I know she didn't enjoy pregnancy that much the first time, or at least not the first and last thirds of it. We're both working on losing weight, and she doesn't want the setback that pregnancy would represent on that front, either. And there are money worries, and health-related worries, both for baby and mom, that increase as we grow older.

So, anyway. Yesterday she asked me, "What do you think of adoption?"

My first thought was, oh, no. I've heard horror stories. I have fears. I think adoptive parents spend the rest of their lives living with the consequences of strangers screwing up their kids. Oh, nightmares. Developmental delays. Angry, violent, drug addicted. No, no, no. Lots of fears.

But, I don't know. I had a lot of fears about pregnancy the first time, too. If there's one thing I've learned through this whole parenthood experience so far, it's that you can spend a lot of time and energy worrying and planning about possibilities that never come to pass. And the possibilities that do come to pass are ones that never even occur to you. So having fears is not reason enough.

This morning, while driving Thumper to the playground, the idea of adoption really started to appeal to me. In some ways, it seems like both of our lives, Aerie's and mine, point in this direction. I grew up intimately involved in the Child Protective Services world. From the time that I was six until I was nineteen, my parents were foster parents. They took in (I think) 38 kids over that time, kids that were the product of abuse and neglect and drug addiction. I have no doubt that that experience had a profound effect on me, shaping me into the man that would want to be a stay-at-home dad.

Even after they retired from fostering, my mom became a social worker in the CPS system, placing foster kids into adoptive homes. Two of those foster kids even nearly became my adoptive siblings. The first, a round-headed, red-haired boy, did not for reasons I can't begin to recall. The other did not because (I think) of racial preference policies where white parents weren't the first choice for black kids. Anyway, fostering and adoption are part of my upbringing. And if you know Aerie, you know her upbringing has shaped her into a protector of the weak and the underdogs, a caretaker, a champion of the abandoned.

But then again, when you start looking at adopting, it seems like it's for much better, and stronger, people than I. There are so many kids, older kids that too few people want or can even begin to consider taking in, kids with daunting special needs. I don't know if I'm up to all of that. I want to be a better person, but I don't think I'm capable of being that much better, really.


Jennie said...

Sounds like you have a great logic on this issue, and will make the right decision for you. I would like to add that the honey's dad and sister are both adopted, and they are productive members of society. So my knowledge of screwed up kids to healthy, well-developed kids is 1 out of 3.

I, Rodius said...

Thanks. I'm hoping that if I just let the universe know that we're open to the idea of adopting, we'll be guided to the choice that's right for us. Lord knows with Haiti and Chile, there have got to be a lot of kids out there that could do worse than a middle-class suburban American home, with hand-me-downs and Goodwill toys.

She Said said...

Wow! Do you ever keep in touch with anyone that was fostered in your home?

I completely understand your fears about adoption, but just from what I read about you and your family, I think any child needing a home would thrive with you and your family. :)

I, Rodius said...

My mom used to get cards and letters from some of those families; I don't know if she does anymore. It was always strange seeing people who were still 2 in my memory in pictures wearing graduation caps, etc.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm very much enjoying reading about China. I can't imagine doing it myself!

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