Earlier this evening I saw the couple from earlier this morning, the one where we gave the advice of “don’t be an asshole parent.” They had their son, who is 16 months old, and were busy chasing him around the hotel. Unfortunately, they seemed really annoyed. I’m not sure what gave me this impression, but the “I’m tired of following him around, you do it” had something to do with it.
(The weirdness of seeing a couple who, this morning didn’t have this son, is indescribable. It’s like the fetishism of the commodity, except applied to people. I wonder how long it takes for adoptive parents to feel like their child is “theirs,” especially as children become older.)
Now they are in the guest lounge with me on the next couch over, about five feet away. When they walked into the room I congratulated them and asked when they left for the United States. The wife responded with the following, as their son was crying:
“Not until Tuesday. We weren’t supposed to get him until Monday, but with Buddha’s birthday all of the offices are closed or something. So now we don’t know what to do until we get home.”
(husband to wife) “Walk around with him or something. He should go to sleep soon.”
(5 minutes later: places little boy in front of iPad with a cartoon playing)
My heart sank.
Shouldn’t they be beyond excited that they were able to get their little boy 3 days early?
Watching them with their little boy has been really hard. At 16 months, many children are already pretty attached to their parents. Knowing the amount of volunteers that flow in and out of orphanages, I wonder how this affects adopted children, as they have no one to “attach” to. Maybe that’s the reason all of my relationships seem to dissipate.
Similar to my experiences visiting Holt’s Reception Center and my orphanage, I really empathized with this boy. When I looked at him and the other babies, it felt as if I was looking at a younger me– innocent and completely unaware of the fact that life was about to change so drastically, so permanently. I identified so much with them and felt a world of sadness.
I’ve read that a lot of adopted women really struggle with childbirth because they’ll have a moment when they realize “this is what my mom went through with me” and/or “that was me at one point.” They identify both with their mothers and their babies. Although I could always see how this would be possible, I feel like I’m one step closer to really understanding what this must be like.
And I’m not sure I could handle that, given the question marks that remain.