Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Dear Sugar: I Fell In Love With A Child Who Wasn't Mine (and Maybe You Have Too)
I fell in love with a child who wasn't mine.
I told myself not to.
I tried to set up walls, boundaries, and guards.
But I failed.
I failed desperately, miserably, and soon enough, willingly.
I imagined what it would be like to hang up SIX stockings on the mantle instead of the usual five.
I thought about our future trip to Disney World, when we'd board the plane, and we'd get to take up TWO FULL rows of seats instead of three on one side, and two on the other, leaving a poor stranger to awkwardly sit next to me and one of my kids.
I created a note on my phone and listed all the baby names I loved. I spent HOURS on that list.
Then I slowly began buying things for the baby we were matched with. And soon, she had an all out nursery. A nursery without a baby. Hopefully awkward. Hopelessly surrendered.
I researched newborn photographers and pediatricians.
I prayed. I prayed for peace. For certainty. For others. For myself.
I counted down. Date after date, milestone after milestone (in the journey that seemingly was never ending). This helped me believe I had order, control, and organization.
We chose a name from the list off my phone. But I couldn't say her name aloud. Because then she was "her" and "the baby."
We walked around with a little secret growing in our hearts. And sometimes we let the secret slip out. We were expecting. Maybe. Sort-of. We shall see. And hope. And dream. And fear. And doubt. And glow.
I knew the risks. The possibilities. The heart-makes and heartaches. I knew my fantasy could crumble at any minute.
I stood grounded in ethics which collided a thousand times a day with my heart-pulls. I learned they could co-exist, but it was uncomfortable. And scary. Very scary.
I loved and loved and loved bigger and bigger, knowing that there was a risk (the elephant in the room) of shattering, disappearing, and losing.
I knew that the nursery I had lovingly put together could remain empty forever.
I bought little shoes and diapers and picture frames to fill.
Yet I kept every single receipt. That little pile of papers, clipped together neatly, tortured me.
I listened to God tell me, one day when I was finishing up a workout, "Stop waiting for something to bad to happen." Then I told God that wasn't possible. Then I questioned if it was my own helpless illusions that spoke to me or if it really were God bestowing some fatherly-ness upon me.
I nested. I organized a closet here. I straightened up the books there. I purged and sorted and tidied. I needed something to do with my energy and neurotic tendencies.
I remember now, on the other side of the Wait, one of my favorite quotes. I find comfort in it. That despite the risks, I loved and loved well. I loved a birth family (who was not yet a "birth" family) and a baby.
"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." ~Alfred Lord Tennyson
I am thankful that I loved and loved big. It took courage, it took steadfastness and commitment, it took unclenching, and it took faith. Immense faith.
I am guilty of doing the thing I said I would never do: I fell in love with a child who wasn't mine.
But now she is mine. And I'm grateful that I can tell her, I loved you before I knew you, before I held you, before I heard you. I loved you big--even though it was hard. Even though it was scary. I fell in love with you, I prayed for you. I loved you in the ways I could, in the place I was in, and I am thankful that I took the risk: the risk of loving at the risk of losing, because it was better than not loving at all.