Chris and I have recently begun discussions about number Three. I'm fully aware Caroline is a mere eight months old, but since we are most likely going to adopt, and it will most likely be a lengthy, arduous process lasting a minimum of two years, we've most likely come to the conclusion that we need to start thinking about it now. Notice I said, thinking about it. No filling in of any blanks, no updating of any homestudies, no (painful) signing of any checks. Yet. Thinking about it. You see, when you are an adoptive family, it doesn't usually just magically happen with one steamy evening of Etta James and Sauvignon Blanc - and believe me, we tried all that. No, when you are an adoptive family, it takes planning and saving, and a whole lot of doing, to grow your brood.
When we began pursuing adoption the first time, my sweet darling husband - and he fully admits to this, so I don't think he'd mind me telling you - dug his proverbial heels in and resisted the entire process. From studying blogs of families at various stages of adoption, it is my deduction that this behavior is not altogether unusual for a man. Whether it is the financial commitment (ugh, don't get me started), the fear of the unknown (what genetic surprises could be in store?), the trepidation that you are making a lifelong commitment to a dependent being with essentially no guarantees that you will like or even love this child - they are all very legitimate concerns. Concerns that diminish the moment you get that phone call (or in our case, an email) and disappear completely the second that child looks into your eyes for the first time. I think for us, it was a combination of all of these plus so many more unspoken fears, anxieties, and unanswered questions that caused Chris' ambivalence toward adoption.
And, let me tell you, I handled it all like the consummate Proverbs 31 woman.
In an alternate universe.
In real life, here on earth, I was a total basketcase. His reluctance called into question the ultimate foundation of our marriage. We went into this here union with the intention of raising us a family, did we not? His refusal to support me in our adoption quest, to me, was akin to betrayal. He betrayed our vows. Really? he would respond, we vowed to start a family? Well, kinda... Right? I mean, let me see. I'll just consult my wallet sized copy of our vows. Hmm... love and honor - no, that's not it. Sickness and health... yada yada. Scan, scan. Oh come on! It's in here, I know it. I know we vowed to adopt.... Didn't we? (That was a euphemism, people, I don't have a wallet-sized copy of our vows. It's a 5x7. Kidding. 8 x 10).
No, Sarah. You did not, my sweet mother would remind me after I'd tearfully recount in hushed whispered detail for her our latest altercation on the subject. You vowed to love and honor your husband. You are doing your best to be a First Peter wife by respecting his decisions, and you need to do just that. No matter how strongly you disagree with him.
Women friends, let me offer you a word of advice: do not, I repeat, do NOT, take your problems with your husband to your mother. There can be no good outcome in this situation. If she agrees with you, it causes strife in your relationship with your man. If she agrees with him, it only ticks you off that your mother is siding with him. In our case, my very wise mother remained as steadfastly neutral as the good King Solomon. Prudent woman, that Vivi.
We at long last arrived at the point in our dispute that Chris finally told me he would "not prevent me from going forward with an adoption". (Read: I won! Yippee! I won, I won, I won!!) Now, don't misunderstand me. I know the truth. I know this was not a contest. And I know he just out-and-out gave up. I can be really persistent about something I want, and eventually that poor man just got worn the heck down and waved his white flag and I got my way. (But, I still won, people!)
And, hallelujah. That was all the encouragement I needed. Before he even finished his "not prevent you" sentence, I was inking up his fingers for our prints. (The fingerprinting for the FBI was actually kinda cool, and was arguably Chris' favorite part of the whole process, aside from becoming a parent to the two most stunning children ever born. But we're talking, the F-B-I, y'all).
The progression of our particular adoption journey went basically as such: for months, I would fill out page after page after bloomin' page of stacks of paper to find out that I had achieved only one measly step of the million-step process to acquire a child in this day and age. (All while going to work and birthing babies to 13-year-old children but that is a blog post for another day. I digress...) I would push these pages in front of Chris for his review and signature when he was in a particularly good mood - this usually involved plying him with a big meal and an ice-cold Corona - and he would still, despite the full belly and cold beer, shake his head in silent disgust at all the time and money spent proving ourselves worthy to the ill-defined administrative authorities in charge of the future of our family. Fun times.
Among our friends, his aversion to any and all things adoption became the stuff of legend. He had perfected the obligatory frustrated sigh and dramatic eye roll in answer to the frequent question from loved ones, "So how's the adoption coming along?" And woe to anyone who persisted further - you were likely to get an earful.
All this, of course, was pre-Aria and pre-Caroline, BC as we like to refer to it in our house (Before Children). Just as in the history books, everything in our life is now defined by BC and AC, the definitive life-altering line unknowingly drawn by a little brown-haired, doe-eyed baby girl with blueberry cream cheese smeared all over her face.
And that little chubby-cheeked, cream-cheese face opened, enlarged, and changed my husband's heart forever.
He, an adoption cynic of epic, eye-rolling, big sighing, heel-digging proportions, will now unceasingly champion the cause to any and everyone who will listen. Chris was Paul, and our adoption journey to Aria Grace became the road to his own Damascus. Changed. Saved. Blessed.
The money? An enormous cost, without question, but it's so impressively impossible to put a price on this kind of love. The time spent filling out the unending questions and paperwork? Negligible in comparison to one minute spent in the company of your forever child. Those worries about whether you could like or love the child? Absent. Gone. Disappeared. In fact, I really believe those concerns were never there to begin with, rather they were themselves a manisfestation of fear of the unknown.
So, a Third? Maybe. We're thinking about it. One day. Maybe.
But one thing I know now is that this time around, my husband will need no convincing.