Follow Your Heart

My husband and I are adopting a little boy from China.

Yep, check out my bio at the bottom and you’ll see that we’re the ones who already have four boys. And maybe four is enough. Especially since our youngest is already in second grade. While many of our friends are looking forward to more time to themselves as their kids get older, we’re looking forward to more years of music programs, soccer games and field trips.

Common sense tells us that we should leave well enough alone. But our hearts are telling us that we have room for one more. Which should we follow?

We’re following our hearts.

I believe that one of the biggest fears people may have about adoption is that they couldn’t love an adopted child as their own. I once had this same fear. What if? What if I’m not capable of loving an adopted child as I do my biological kids?

I feel that we have experiences in life in order to prepare us for things down the road. Giving birth to our fourth child, Henry convinced me that yes, yes I will definitely love an adopted child as much as our biological kids.

Things did not go as planned when I had him. I was in labor for twenty hours that ended in a C-section (my first). Moments after he was born, the doctors told us he had a collapsed lung. He was rushed out of the room and I was left with empty arms. I do not remember much of that night. I recall falling asleep from exhaustion and the drugs as they stitched me back up. The next morning I awoke in a panic. Where is my baby? Is he okay? What just happened?

This is not how my other deliveries went. With my other boys I was fully conscious when they arrived. We bonded as I nursed them and cuddled with them for hours after my delivery. My husband and I named each one while making joyful phone calls announcing their birth. As far as I knew from these experiences, this was how you fall in love with your child.

With Henry, all of the rules changed. He spent a week in the NICU confined to a little isolette with a chest tube coming out of his little ribs and a central line coming out of his tummy. I could only sit next to him and hold his hand. As the days passed that week, I realized that I had no idea who this child was. My husband and I had a hard time naming him and I felt like he could be any other baby in the room. I felt disconnected and very sad. This was definitely not what I had imagined during my pregnancy.

Henry - NIC 36 hours

Once we came home from the hospital things did not improve. I had to get past the fear that he almost (maybe could have) died. I was anxious, had a serious case of the baby blues, and felt out of sorts. I was tentative and unsure as to how our relationship would be. We both had a rough start and with that rough start we needed time and healing.

I wish I could remember the moment that I realized that I loved him. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t a specific moment but a gradual realization. One day, I just knew. It was so different from my other boys, but that is the point. Love can come in different forms and in different ways. He has a special place in my heart because of our beginnings. I love him so fiercely now I can hardly breathe.

IMG_0977

This child that we are going to adopt, I am imagining it’s going to be like that. I have pictures of him that I look at every day. I love the child that I see in these pictures, but I don’t know him. It will not be easy at first. And maybe, maybe we won’t love him instantly. Maybe his brothers won’t either. Maybe we’ll have a few rough months or even years as we get to know one another.

This is what I know: I know that our lives will be richer because we took this leap of faith. I know that everything will fall into place because we’re following our hearts. I know, deep in my soul that one day we will realize that we love him as much as our other children.

Most importantly, I know that we will wonder what life would have been without him.

 

November is Adoption Awareness Month. Have you ever considered adoption? The more you know, the easier it is to take that leap of faith. Our journey took us to international adoption but there are many paths to choose from. Please check out www.adoptuskids.org to learn more. You can also email me at [email protected] if you’re not sure how to start. I will be more than happy to help.

Julie is a mom of five boys and one girl. She is a runner, biker, yoga instructor and socializer. That about sums it up. Believe it or not, she really does enjoy the soccer, cross country, swim team, track, dance classes, basketball, and theater her kids are involved in as long as she has another mom (or dad) to talk to during these events. Julie is starting a new adventure going back to school to get her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Edgewood College.

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