Where do babies come from?

12 Nov

Photo: Zimbio.com

Nicole Kidman, Edie Falco and Sharon Stone did it. Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron and Katherine Heigl did it. Barbara Walters and Diane Keaton did it. I know someone who was with Meg Ryan when she did it.

It isn’t only women who do it. Tony Shaloub and even Ozzy Osbourne did it.

And I did it, too.

Nine years ago, on September 15, I, with my husband, adopted a baby girl from China. I’ve written about adoption before; it was an angry—some might say “snide”—response to the idiocy many people express about adoption and to those on all sides of the adoption triangle.

But adoption hasn’t only exposed me to idiocy. It has brought me an overabundance of joy. My daughter is beautiful, smart, funny, loving, generous, and kind. We adoptive parents like to joke that it’s ok for us to brag about our children ‘cause it’s not like we’re patting our own genetic code on the back. But I will gladly tell you that my son, who came from my womb, is handsome, smart, funny, loving (in a teenage boy kind of way), generous and kind.

Adoption has changed my vocabulary. My daughter isn’t adopted, she was adopted. As soon as the papers were signed, she became my daughter. I don’t usually say my son come from my womb, as I did above, though I prefer that description. I refer to him as my “biological son” if anyone asks and people frequently ask when they see him and his sister together. He has some smart-ass comments he keeps for people who ask if she was adopted, but he has a smart-ass comment for just about everything. Calling my son “biological” seems to imply, to me at least, that my daughter is somehow not made of the same stuff. Calling him my “natural” child is equally strange for me. Is my daughter then “unnatural?”

Adoption has changed the way many people see me. Because I’ve adopted, many people think I’m brave. They consider the things I’ve done—traveling to China, adopting “someone else’s child”—to be scary things.

Becoming a parent was scary. Deciding to try to get pregnant was scary, in a jumping off a cliff and hoping for a soft landing sort of way.

With adoption, there was no fear. We took one red-tape filled step at a time, confident that there was a child for us at the end of the journey. Traveling to China? With an eight-year old boy? Immediately following lifting of the SARS travel ban? Didn’t faze me. Trying to get pregnant is a tentative sort of venture. Who knows how it will end? Adoption is a deliberate process. Every form filled out, every interview, every trip to a consulate, state or county official says, “We will have a child.”

Adoption has brought me close to people I might never have bothered to know. I don’t usually go out of my way to befriend people whose politics and principles are so different from my own. My adoption community includes people with dramatically different politics and principles.

When I was pregnant with my son, a good friend was as well. We had a bump bonding moment in the ladies’ room at a restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana. She showed me her distended belly button and I showed her mine. I can’t imagine showing my belly button to my adoption community friends. Most of them have never met me in person.

But though our world is mainly virtual, our friendship is very real. We’ve been through the typical things long time friends weather like divorces, illnesses, teenagers. But only my adoption friends can provide comfort when I’ve just held my daughter while she sobs for her real mother.  Only they can assure me that I’ve handled it well, that I’ve done what a real mother does.

People tell me they couldn’t do what I’ve done; that they could never love a child that wasn’t their own. There’s a witty reply: I love her as my own because she is my own, just as her brother is my own.

When my son was born, he was placed in my arms and I had no idea what to do with him. I fell in love with him but it wasn’t an overnight thing.

On September 14, a Chinese woman placed Lin Chun Mei in my arms. On September 15, she became my daughter, Abigail Mei. The next day, pushing her stroller toward the elevator at the White Swan Hotel in Guangdong Province, I knew she was my own, that my love for her was no different than my love for my son.

Before I went to China, I learned a single phrase in Mandarin. When I met my daughter, I told her, “Wo shi ni de mama. Wo shi yung yuan ni de mama.”

I am your mama. I will always be your mama.

The Princess of Snide

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22 Responses to “Where do babies come from?”

  1. Vera Poh November 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Shi de! Shi de! (Indeed! indeed!) She is beautiful, and the story is SIMPLY beautiful! Thank you for the very lovely post.

    • jmlindy422 November 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Thanks so much. And thank you for the additional Chinese for my very limited vocabulary.

  2. kelloggs77 November 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Beautiful post for a very beautiful daughter.

    • jmlindy422 November 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      Thanks. I do think she’s pretty fabulous and, of course, gorgeous.

  3. Mary Rayis November 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    What a powerful statement of love! As the mother of an adopted Chinese daughter, I have experienced many of the things you mention in your piece. When people tell my husband and me what a generous thing we have done by adopting, our response is always the same. It was totally selfish on our part. We wanted a little girl to love and cherish, and we were given a blessing beyond our wildest dreams. With three biological children already in our lives, we found no difference in our feelings toward our youngest.

    In the first few days after we adopted Olivia, she was shell-shocked. We looked, smelled and sounded so strange to her. She never smiled. Simple activities such as baths were completely traumatic to her. One morning in the hotel, I was feeding her breakfast. On impulse I bent down and pressed my forehead to hers. To my delight, she grinned up at me. I knew then that we were headed toward a beautiful life together as mother and daughter.

    • jmlindy422 November 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Those first days are priceless. I remember the first night I put Abby down to sleep. She immediately got into the cutest position with her cheek on the mattress and her little butt up in the air. Sooooo cute. She didn’t shut down completely, but she howled if I left her with her dad. And, she didn’t speak a word for six weeks. We communicated with sign language. Yup. I’m the lucky one.

  4. The Waiting November 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Totally tearing up over here. That was beautiful. You are her mama.

    • jmlindy422 November 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Thanks. Can’t imagine life without her. I’m sure you feel the same with Miss C.

  5. 2plus2mom November 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Very well said.

  6. Denise Hisey November 13, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    That was beautifully touching… Being a parent is often challenging, and I imagine adding adoption to the equation has its own set of challenges. It sounds like your family has found ways to manage and thrive despite them.
    Abigail Mei has a look of strength and determination along with her beauty. You must be a good match. 🙂

    • jmlindy422 November 13, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Both of my kids bring some interesting challenges to our family equation, but that’s to be expected. We do ok. Yes, Abby has a lot of determination. I’m impressed by her persistence and resilience. Thanks for your kind words.

  7. Luanne November 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I love this post and can completely relate. I teared up at the end. Beautiful! I’m going to follow you from my other (writerly) blog instead of this one because I see that you are a writer, but I’ll be watching for more on your kids ;).

    • jmlindy422 November 14, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Thank you! I write funny stuff my kids say on Tuesdays; otherwise, I write occasionally about them in my other posts. I try to post longer works on Thursday/Friday and moderately long on Monday. Just followed your writer blog. I haven’t checked out your other blog, so forgive if this is a stupid question, but have you adopted?

  8. Sukanya Bora November 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Your post choked me up. Beautiful and heartfelt. Abigail (The Princess of Snide) is gorgeous and you are blessed to have each other. Thank you for writing this.

    • jmlindy422 November 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      You are so welcome, Sukanya. Yes, I am blessed.

  9. SocietyRed November 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    That was beautiful!

  10. adoptionista November 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    The “Natural” child never made sense to me either. Talk about awkward vocab. What a wonderful post – I always find it heartwarming to hear parents talk about birth and adoption like you do. (We have two babies adopted from Africa, no children by birth – yet).

    • jmlindy422 November 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      Thanks so much. Gonna check out your blog and hope for a bio child for you.

      • adoptionista November 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

        Don’t hope too hard, we’re undecided 🙂 Two might be all we can handle!

      • jmlindy422 November 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

        Don’t worry. We just have two and that’s more than enough some days.

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