THE BLOG

The Love and Wounds of Adopting

02/01/2013 02:35 pm ET | Updated Apr 03, 2013
  • Cyma Shapiro Midlife Mother, Radio Talk Show Host, Writer, Speaker

I'd swear that I birthed my kids. Swear to you. You see, I regularly use this language, "You are so cute! Who's your Mommy?" (Meaning, me). "What do you mean, where did you get your ears from? They look like Daddy's." And, "Everyone says that we're alike, honey." Freely. I don't think anything of it. In fact, on nearly every one of my younger kids' birthdays, my husband asks me in passing, "What time were they born?" before catching himself foolishly. Recently, they've started turning away quickly when they hear this, cognizant of the fact that none of us know, nor will we ever know this answer.

But, here's the truth: They are mine, and they aren't.

Putin's recent stance on closing the door to American parents choosing to adopt children from Russia has brought it all back in living color, reviving long-buried wounds: the ridiculously unpleasant experience we had adopting there; the very first look at someone who you know doesn't look like you (except in our case, they both do, in a way), and who you hope will act like you (they do). Wrapping your head around the fact that the tiny person in front of you is about to become a part of your family, if you and they choose to move forward. This is the experience that you swear mimics birthing because the wind is rushing through you and around you so violently that you know that fate and the Gods conspired to do all this without your control. Just the way I imagined childbirth to be. Is it like that?

In cases of conception, most women have several months to prepare and plan. In our case, the (anticipated) phone call was it. One nighttime call and we were on the next plane. This is not a given. This is when the wind picks up, swirling so loudly that you simply can't hear much except the pounding of your heart. You believe that this is your one shot; your one opportunity to have what you desire. And, in many cases, if it isn't right, or if you've lost your place, or if... or if... you lose your chance, entirely.

You see, these are some of the other wounds that I carry: I could not carry a child to childbirth. One of my children insisted for years that he remembered being in my tummy. But, some days, I would swear to you that he did. I often feel it.

We do share the ultimate hand-over. We share the first glances and the first real hold, both with fear and excitement. (We, too, also checked for five toes, five fingers and all the body parts intact). And, we do share the experience of not knowing when this would all start and how it would end. In all cases, none of us could ever go back and turn back time. What was done, was done, for all of us.

We share so much -- my children and me. A fierce, primal bond; a ridiculous amount of love; an unsaid, unspoken agreement that we will do everything we can to make it work, make it all stick and make it all right. And, I have a (more than) rightful place -- I serve as a teacher, helper, mother, and sort-of friend. I am the person who has loved them and done a truly serious amount of work in helping them attach and be attached. But, did I really have to work this hard, just because I adopted?

In the end, as I feel in all phases of my life, my children have their own soul path and soul lives. They surely did come here "through" me and they will surely leave this earth with my mark on their hearts and souls. But, somewhere, someplace, there are a few others who have had a tiny part in all of that. I always chose to believe that these phantom biological parents loved their birth children so much that they relinquished them, to us. It's all good... isn't it? In this dance of life, I know for sure that neither I nor they will ever really know.

What are your adoption wounds? I'd love to hear from you.