Shortly after the agency sent me info on the child I am currently pursuing (aka Hope Kid), I got an email from the agency about another child that my social worker mentioned a month prior. This child became a point of interest for my social worker and the agency because I was open to taking a kid who self-identified somewhere on the LGBT spectrum. That self id is not a big deal for me, but I know it would be a big deal for some other folks. Who you love or how you gender identify isn’t really a big thing for me. Live and let live. I just want a kid who I can help reach their full potential and who will help me reach mine. I want to be a mom.
So, I open up the email and read and stared at the picture Then I sat looking at the screen, waiting for something magical to happen because, well, the previous email I received was like opening a present that had sparklies and unicorns and rainbows. Why didn’t that happen with this profile?
I’d heard from some folks that you would know when you saw your kid. It didn’t mean that you would get that kid, but that you might have some kind of cosmic connection to a kid whose profile you received. How was it possible that I felt that the first time I got a profile, which happened to be for Hope Kid? I dismissed it when I first felt that feeling (it really defies words…except sparklies, unicorns and rainbows). I figured it couldn’t possibly be real; it really must just be the excitement of getting the first profile.
I’d also been warned that the opposite might happen. That I’d get a profile, and I would feel compassion, but no attachment, no cosmic anything. Nothing, nada, zilch. It happened, and I could only feel guilt and shame because I didn’t feel any anything more than compassion and it wasn’t enough. How could I not want this kid? My social worker thought it might be a perfect match; my agency agreed, and the child’s social worker was over the moon with my homestudy and calling my agency repeatedly. And here all I could do was send my agency’s follow up calls to voicemail, close my office door and cry because, well, clearly I was an awful, horrible person who was seemingly a match for an amazing kid, and I could barely manage more than a mumble. I was hiding from my own cell phone because rejecting this kid was unthinkable, and now it was my fault that this kid would not have a forever home.
Oh yeah when I do guilt and shame, I go hard. I mean all the way there.
So I tried to figure out if there was something…anything there that I could and should see that everyone else apparently saw in the tea leaves. Every child has value; every life has meaning. Maybe I just needed to dig for it. I did have a lot of questions about this child, and I dutifully sent them off to her social worker. Maybe there would be a sparkly unicorn in the answers that came back to me. There was no unicorn. But I did learn that this child has some significant issues that I am not sure I could handle even if a giant unicorn with a sparkly leprechaun riding atop showed up to take me to work each morning where there would be a pot of gold sitting on my desk. And yet, she was beautiful and lovely and needs a home. But she wasn’t my kid. She just wasn’t.
And I had to say no. And I had to do it clearly and firmly. No one, especially not the child, would benefit from me pussyfooting around a soft no when I knew it was a firm one. And in my heart I knew it was a firm no from the moment I opened that email.
I cannot speak for others’ adoption journey, but I cannot think that many of us consider saying no to kids. Isn’t that why we’re doing this? Because we want to be moms and dads? How could we say, “No, that’s too much for me, and for whatever reason, I do not feel connected to this child?” Rejection is horrible, and one of my biggest personal fears has always been rejection. I feel like the lowest of the low because I feel like I was the one doing the rejecting. And I know it is more complicated than that, and that I can easily also say that I knew she wasn’t my child, but I still had to say no.
I’m not quite sure when I will recover from having to call my agency with my decision. I know I have to forgive myself, and that my getting out of the way hopefully clears the path for her to find her true forever home, but damn.
It sucks. Royally.
When you’re going through this process, the trainers and social workers all talk a lot about the resilience of the children. No one talks about the would-be-parents’ resilience. I know I’ll get over having to say no, but I will not forget it or any of the emotions attached to it. I have learned that what I felt with Hope Kid was real, which is super cool, and it makes me happy. I do not know if I’ll feel it with other profiles, and I do not know if I will have to say no in the future. I have told the agency that I do not want to see other profiles until I see what happens with Hope Kid. I have found it is much easier being on the receiving end of rejection than it is to be on the delivering end.
And I guess that is an important personal lesson for me. I know that I am resilient enough to face one of my worse fears. I know I will be heartbroken if it does not workout between me and Hope Kid, but I do not see myself saying no to this match and that brings me some comfort.
A friend calls these experiences my version of labor pains. I don’t know about that (I don’t know nothing about birthing no baby!), but it does hurt. But it will pass. It’s just another part of the journey.