Monday, December 06, 2004

BlogSurf, U.S.A.

As one who was once termed "co-dependent," I suppose it can be dangerous to blogsurf on days when my biorhythm is on a triple low (for the record, emotionally I just started an up-swing, but physically and intellectually I bottom out in a couple of days). I sometimes will read things that make me want to open discussions with the authors and see if I can't talk them through the tough times.

Having kids, I should know better.

Most parents know: You can talk all you wanna, but if they don't want to listen, you may as well go work on your Pulitzer Prize entries.

On the other hand, some issues always tug at me no matter how thick I think my veneer is on a particular day. Take, for example, people who don't have children but want them desperately. This is an issue I can still relate to, because it really wasn't all that long ago that I myself was in that boat.

Twenty years ago I found myself wondering when the children would come. Not "if," mind you, but "when." After a few years, I began to wonder "if." There had been many a tearful evening with my spouse (now my ex) wondering what we were doing wrong, or what we had done that warranted being childless. There were fertility specialists and a rash of humiliating tests. Nothing worked.

Then - quite suddenly, it seemed - there were kids everywhere. We adopted our first child. Then we became foster parents. Three more children were added to the house and one of those we adopted. Now, a few years later still and remarried, I've become a "natural" parent.

Let me just state here that, realistically, there is no difference between being an adoptive parent and being a natural parent. My first child was adopted at birth. My second came to us as a thirteen year old hormone storm. Numbers three and four came the "old fashioned" way. As a Dad, I stressed myself through each one, regardless of whether there was even a pregnancy that I was somehow involved with. Even adopting our teenager was no walk in the park. Seems the State of California doesn't really believe that teenagers need parents (as far as the foster system is concerned, at any rate) and we were ultimately forced to do an adult adoption.

This roller coaster never stops to let passengers off.

I have sat in waiting rooms and judges' chambers. I have yet to see an actual delivery because my two natural births decided to make their entrances the hard way. Now I spend my days waiting to see how things will turn out for my kids. I try to anticipate their questions so I can have some sort of coherent answer for them. Even my eldest, who is married with a family of her own, manages still to keep Dad on his toes. She doesn't do it on purpose, of course. It's just a parent thing. I mean, I'm 46 and I know my Mom still loses sleep on my account every once in awhile.

Advice? Plenty. But to keep it brief, there needs to be a spiritual base to your life in order to keep things in perspective. For example, have you ever paused to wonder just where that desire and longing for children comes from? It's a gift from heaven. Knowing that, however, can either be a blessing or a curse if we don't understand how families fit in the eternal scheme of things.

I was petrified of adoption because of all the horror stories I'd ever heard about things that adoptive parents had gone through. Everything from birth mothers changing their minds at the last minute, to children wanting to find their birth parents before they were emotionally ready. But once the decision to adopt was made, it became a natural thing for me to place my faith in God and let the process run its course. I will always be grateful that I was able to do that.

To those who want but don't yet have I can only say: Keep going. Stay right with God and you will be taken care of. If all other doors have been slammed in your face then maybe, just maybe, your chance for a family will come in a life beyond this one. I know I'm not offering much, but it's all I have.

Best of luck.

P.S. If you're really desperate, I can loan you my teenage son. I'll ship him to you in a box with a feeding slot. If he gets uppity, you have my permission to close the feeding slot. No return postage, I'm afraid.

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