Friday, January 31, 2014

To Children, Some of Whom Are Mine

Dear Baby Noodle,

     I've heard some people call babies in the womb "noodle," which is cute.  However, this is not our cutesy nickname for you while we wait to find out your gender.  It's your nickname in a different culture, in a different way.  It's strange trying to explain to the people that we ask to pray for you about your nickname, as strange as the prayer request itself.  Some reading this might think I'm writing to the wee person who is currently in my belly, but I'm not.  I'm writing to you, seven months old and a world away.  And no-doubt precious.  To you, small person, who we so desperately wanted to be our baby, but God had different, better, harder plans than we did.
     I'm writing this with tears drying on my face, partially because crying is apparently what pregnant women do all day, and partially because I've been reading about human trafficking, and partially because I'm learning to let myself be sad about losing you.  You see, what you don't know, and probably never will, is that we wanted to adopt you.  To bring you into our family.  To make you ours.
     And that would have meant taking you from your birth family, which no one ever really wants to do.  From the family that you share genetics with, from the mama that had you at one time in her own belly, from those that have nicknamed you Noodle.  I don't put the Thai word here, because I feel I want to protect your privacy, and also because I'm not entirely certain how to pronounce it.  Annabel and I are trying to remedy that, so that maybe future adoptive babies who come to our home can keep some of their birth language, and so that I can rediscover one of my own.  It's funny to think that we are learning at the same time.  You would probably laugh if you heard us--though I imagine you laugh at a lot of things at your age.  I hope you do.
     I am struggling to grieve our loss of you, yet rejoice that you are with your birth family.  I don't even know how to refer to you in my thoughts (and how much less in my words).  When I think of the Little Bit that we miscarried years ago, before Annabel, I know what to think.  He or she is our tiny baby who was with us for an even tinier while.  Annabel knows that she has an older sibling, and I think even grieves that baby in her own four year-old way.  And I am, years later, still learning to praise God for that short little life.  That precious life that was ours, for the shortest of whiles.  And that's where you get complicated.
     We knew that your birth family might change their mind.  As the months went on, it became less and less likely.  Even as our adoption paperwork began to slowly build, hope that you would soon be ours began to lessen.  Finding out that one might adopt soon is like being told, "Congrats, you're pregnant!  At about 8 months along!  So good luck getting ready for that!" And then having the process drag out (as it seems it does for most) is like watching a few days past the due date turn into weeks past, turn into months past.  And then when your family gave the final "no," it hurt like a miscarriage… but was more like being told, "Sorry!  You weren't pregnant, after all.  You just ate too much.  Sorry about that." And there's the sadness of a loss, but (blessedly) without the grief of a death.  And there's the trying to figure out how best to keep praying for you and your family.  And the weirdness of what to tell people.  And there's the (also apparently often) strangeness of "You really are pregnant!  Congratulations!  So please move past this hard foray into adoption, because we've got a really-actually-gonna-be-yours baby to think about.  (If he or she is okay, and it doesn't actually turn into a miscarriage.)"
    And I wonder why I've cried so much over the past 3 months.
    Part of this letter is for me, to process what happened, and re-enter the grieving process, to acknowledge that there's been a loss here.  And part of it is for others, to whom I've not had the heart, or the time, or the plain-ole oomph to explain what happened.  I guess it's a bit false to write this letter to you, since you'll never read it.  But aside from the fact that it's how this blog is set up, there also is something cathartic and precious about writing you.  To tell you we do love you, just not like we thought we'd get to.  To say we are praying for you, but not over you, in person, like we'd hoped.  To ask God in typed-out words to show favor to you and your family, to care for you and draw you close to himself.
     Tiny person, we wish the best for you.  And we trust that God knows that best, and will bring it to pass.  Even though we grieve.  Even though it hurts.  Even though we're sad.  Be well, and grow strong, and know that even by some random people a world away, you are loved.

With love,
Auntie & Uncle

Dear Baby,

     No nicknames for you, I guess.  Just "baby."  I'm sorry I've not been more excited about you.  I'm sorry I've let morning-all-day-dear-lord-somebody-take-out-that-trash-NOW-sickness distract me from the joy of you.  I'm sorry I didn't grieve properly for your almost-sibling before we learned of you.  Please forgive me for letting guilt and confusion and frustration and grief get in the way of caring for you.  Wait, that pretty much sums up parenting.  Well, forgive me for past, present and future, and we'll call it even, I guess.
     Your older sister is SO EXCITED about you.  She has no idea what is coming, and perhaps that's why she can be so excited.  It's sunshine and rainbows for her.  And I'm glad for that.  Your daddy is so proud that you are growing big and strong and that we'll get to meet you soon.  And your momma, though tired and cranky and achy, is excited, too.  Sweet small person.  We love love love you.

Your Family

p.s. please keep off the ribs in a few months, okay?  Your sister sure loved to play the xylophone on my ribs.

Dear Annabel,

     Congrats! You are going to be an amazing big sister.  You are already an amazing little person, and I think having to share the spotlight will only grow you better and sweeter.  We love love love you.

Mommy, Daddy, and Baby

p.s. please keep off the ribs, okay?  I love your snuggles, but we're gonna have to reconfigure hugs as this baby gets bigger!

Dear Other Children, Some of Whom May Someday Be Ours,

I guess it really does take a village, eh?  You precious, small people.  Lord have mercy on our tender parenting hearts.

Adults Everywhere.