Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It Must Be Love

Our new son has been home just barely over a month. It feels like so much longer. From the first moment in the airport it's seemed like he was just always here, always part of our family. Adored by his big sisters, tolerated by his "twin," incredibly loved by his mommy and daddy, Eric unquestionably belongs.

His transition into our home has been so easy. Not easy as in "no problems," just easy as in "natural." It's a tough thing for a barely-22 month old baby boy to leave the only home he's ever known and travel half way around the world to a new culture, new language, new environment, new family, and new life. It's a hard thing for three little girls to adjust to a new sibling who shares the limited attention they get from Dad and Mom, and who needs some extra help making a transition into this life. And yes, it's hard for Mom and Dad--hard to help each child through this transition, hard to handle the inevitable sleep disruptions and meltdowns, to accomodate new quantities of laundry and meal preparation, and keep the family running smoothly with new dynamics.
We've been through this before. While our girls were each adopted as newborns, we've done foster care, and we've had failed adoptive placements of children who we took in and loved but ultimately couldn't keep. Having been through it before, we knew that the transition into a new family is a process, sometimes lengthy. We knew it wasn't always easy or pleasant. We had steeled ourselves to make it through whatever rough stuff came our way.

We knew there would be rocky times; we weren't expecting so many happy ones so soon. Eric is happy baby. He fits in perfectly with the rest of our happy babies. He's a resilient child. He's open to love. Last week he started giving me kisses, and he hasn't stopped. He grins ear to ear when one of his older sisters wraps him in a bear hug. His favorite time of day is when Daddy comes home. One of neighbors said, "If you want to see what heaven must look like, just watch Eric's face as he runs across the lawn when his daddy gets home. That's love for you."
Before Eric came home I was nervous. I was worried that he might have a hard time bonding with us, but I was terrified that I might not bond well enough with him. I had my girls from day one. We had lots of late nights and colic and rocking and pacing the floors to bond over. With each of our failed adoptions, although there were external factors that lead to the disruptions each time, I also experienced a nagging sense that this wasn't really my child each time. It was a voice I tried to shove into the farthest recesses of my mind, but beneath the love and affection I genuinely felt for every child who has been in our home, there was this niggling doubt about whether I was truly their mother, and they were truly my children.
A couple of weeks after Eric arrived home I was rocking him at bedtime in his darkened room. Taking advantage of our new ritual, Eric was touching my face tentatively with his fingers, sometimes giggling if I made a silly face at him, sometimes smiling back at me as I whispered to him how much I loved him.
And it suddenly hit me. I'd throw myself in front of a bus for this kid. Oh yeah. He's mine. He's as much a part of me as each of my other children. I'm going to be around when he's choosing college majors and bringing home special girlfriends, and I'm g0ing to be the lucky grandma to his babies someday. Because I WANT to. Because I chose to. Because there wasn't really an alternative to falling head over heels for this boy.
The doubt seems so silly. This is my son. Call it the red thread, call it fate, call it Divine Intervention, call it random coincidence. From where I'm sitting, with the cutest boy in the universe on my lap, I just call it love.

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