Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 6


We were a family of three. Our days were no longer ours for the wasting. This notion jolted us somewhere around day three or four, as I'm sure it does to every first-time parent. The only difference in this case is that our guy was nearly 5 months old. He was learning to adapt to a brand new time zone, he wanted to crawl, he was obsessed with his pacifier, he had better things to do than sleep. Unless we were trying to give him a bottle, then we struggled to keep him awake. He was in an unfamiliar world with people who looked different from anyone he had ever seen. The smells were different, the sounds were different. It was all new. He had a lot to figure out.

I wish I could tell you - really tell you - what those early days were like. The truth is, I don't really remember them. And I was too exhausted to write any of it down.

One of my top priorities was to teach Mr. Lee to sleep through the night. Sleep is a big deal with me and the Mister, and it was about to become a big deal to Calvin, too, like it or not. So, I read a book and I carried it around like it was my job in life. And really? It was. I dog-eared and highlighted and I had my experienced sister-in-law on speed dial. Little by little, our guy started to sleep. It happened more quickly and easily than we expected, though he was and is still prone to bouts of middle-of-the-night mayhem. The lightness of his sleep is exceeded only by my own, so between the two of us, we were often at the fringes of bleary-eyed existence.

But the daylight hours, those were the ones that stretched out of my reach and back around again. They went from roughly here to approximately eternity. I just wasn't sure how to go about filling that big pot of time with a baby who was on the go, but didn't really know me, but really seemed to like me, but couldn't exactly communicate with me.

So, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I talked to him - all the time. As if he understood every word I said. I sang to him, aglow in the knowledge that he found my squirrely alto altogether pleasant. I read stacks of books to him. I called him every nonsensical name I could possibly piece together. I changed all of his diapers upstairs on his changing table, just for the change of scenery. We took stroller walks. We got groceries.

In no time flat, he was me and I was him and when Daddy walked through the door at the end of the day, we all smiled a little bigger (and sometimes, yes, I handed a cranky Calvey right over and scavenged a moment of peace for myself, gnawing that little bone clean).

I don't remember if I thought it was hard. No wait, I do remember. I thought it was kind of hard.

I didn't know when to shower and my voice got tired on account of all the talking to myself. What I can say now, in blessed hindsight, is that it really wasn't that hard. Calvin was a mostly-easy baby and attached so quickly to us that we never truly imagined a different possible outcome. He was stitched seamlessly into our life. Our days were redundant and sometimes bland, but they were straight and even, the needle passing through one side with the moon and then rising through the other with the sun. In and out. Days into weeks into months.

Something I was not prepared for was the hovering presence of well-meaning strangers, at every turn. On most days, I happily obliged their questions. On other days I grew weary of being asked if he was Chinese. On all days, I was proud to be his Mommy. I wondered though, Does every mama get this kind of attention? That's a question I still can't answer, since I have no frame of reference. Suffice it to say that back then and even more so today, we don't ever show up unnoticed.

Along with the inquiring minds came a host of questions, many of which were down-right ridiculous.

A friend of ours, a very successful, intelligent guy, asked us early on if we intended to tell Calvin that he was adopted.

Um, yes.


More people than we could count asked us if he spoke English.

No, he speaks gibberish. He's five months old.


Some asked if he would know karate.

One, before his arrival, asked, "will he be black?"

All I can tell you is, I felt like the luckiest Mama in the world, toting my happy, no-necked baby to and fro. He was mine. He was so mine that I forgot that we looked different.

We kept right on singing our way through those next months. In October I sang about apples and leaves, in November we talked turkey, in December I reacquainted myself with every Christmas carol I had ever known. We sang in the car, we sang as a diversion to strained peas and squash. And always, always we sang Twinkle Twinkle, since this tune was our only common ground in the earliest days.

Sometime near the first of the year, Cory's Grandma Big Joyce (that's right) mentioned that a friend of the family had a co-worker who was pregnant and might be interested in placing her baby for adoption. I laughed and the words escaped before I had really even formed them. "Of course we would be interested!" And then I laughed again, because it was all so absurd. Of course we wouldn't be adopting again so soon. My heart didn't even skip a beat at the thought. It was just silliness, that's all. These things never pan out so easily, in real life.

A few short weeks later, sitting on the worn Berber carpet in front of the ancient TV, corralling the day's toys into their appropriate corner, the sky dark outside the window, the phone rang.

"My daughter is pregnant and we heard you might be interested in adopting the baby."

My heart skipped one beat, two beats, ten.

"Would you be willing to meet and talk with us in person?"

And just like that, every hesitation we had about domestic, open adoption melted down and slid out through the tiny crack in the dark, the very same crack that blazed bright and warm. The light was coming in. This story was not our own. It had never been.


______________________________________________

Join me here next Wednesday* for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 7

(To catch up on Chapters 1-4, click here and start from the bottom.)

*Yes, I am officially switching to Wednesday for the duration of the series! Also? Thanks for being patient with me today.

61 comments:

  1. oh this took my breath away. the word pictures!
    the moon and the needle! The bone of a moment's peace!

    You.

    That is all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Always, always twinkle twinkle little star. Amen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just got chill bumps :) This is so good Shannan... I love reading your story and love passing it on to other readers. My favorite part, is that it was HIS story all along.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I get chills reading this story- and I cannot wait for next Wed. But that is OK- you take your time. We do not even deserve to hear it - so whenever you can tell it - that is fine with me :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can't wait for RUBY AND SILAS!!! I don't do that well with suspense in case you can't tell. At least I know it is a happily ever after :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just love this series!!
    And that no-necked Calvey? A living doll.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ooooooh! I got the chills reading about Ruby starting to enter the picture! Can't wait for your next post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. OK. Your adoption series is officially my favorite. You are obviously writing directly from your heart and to me that's where the best stories are always born. I can't wait for the next installment.
    p.s. Calvin is absolutely adorable.
    I have twins and some of the questions and comments that we received whenever we went out in public were very odd to say the least. I can relate to what you wrote.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a sweet story. A new mom is a new mom regardless of how the baby arrives.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Are you going to tell him he's adopted--that's hysterical. Once, as a young girl, my Korean sister-in-law was asked, "What are you," meaning, what nationality are you? Having grown up in a very Scandinavian family, she happily reported that she was Swedish. Oh, the big, beautiful family of Christ filled with all the little children loved by Jesus in the world! As above, can't wait for more.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You write your emotions so beautifully. I love reading every new chapter of this story.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh I love these. Girl I get so wrapped up in your stories I can't even tell ya. That first pic of you and Calvin...you look like a new momma, all fresh, shiny and new. So glad you were able to figure it all out. It's a beautiful love story.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just have to tell you that when your blog comes up on my reader, I'm so glad--"ooh!" And then when I see that it's more in your adoption series, I settle in to my chair and prepare to read more slowly and mindfully than my usual bloggy zip-through. Thank you so much for doing these.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Shannan I love hearing the story of how it all came to be. I got teary several times. Singing all the time .... I can just picture you with a happy baby on your hip!Can't wait to hear Ruby's story!
    Gotta ask is there a little Joyce? What is with the Grandma Big Joyce?
    If they start calling me Grandma Big Janie, there will be some smacking going on around here!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. So sweet! You experienced all the emotions of every new biological mom. It doesn't matter how we get our babies, we feel the same love, terror, and everything in between, when they are ours. There is no love like that between a mother and her child.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh my, I love this series. Love, love, love it. Thank you so much for sharing. Also, that odd feeling of trying to fill the days and talking to the baby? Happened with me, too, and mine wasn't adopted, trying to crawl, or any of that. Maybe that's just normal?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful, beautiful words! I'm pretty sure that no matter how different they look from the outside, every first-time mom's experience is the same on the inside. And you just caught it all up in these words!
    I loved them all but these were my most favorite words you wrote here today:
    "He was stitched seamlessly into our life. Our days were redundant and sometimes bland, but they were straight and even, the needle passing through one side with the moon and then rising through the other with the sun. In and out. Days into weeks into months."

    I can't wait for Ruby's story next week!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have been following your blog for about a year now, and I have loved getting to know Calvin through your honest, amusing blog posts. It's been really fun to learn about his arrival and your early-parenthood-challenges. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us.

    And I love your adoption series and I don't care if they come on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday - just keep them coming! xo

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm fascinated.

    I'm grateful-

    For God, for babies, for you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. So beautifully written... so full of love!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am loving the unwrapping of your mommy adventure. Your pictures are beautiful, your little man, the same one asking about where babies come from, is just so sweet! Someday he will be so blessed by the "real" story of where babies come from! Can't wait for next week!
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  22. Another beautiful installment. I remember that call, too. Ours came from Children's Services and the yes came too quickly. Looking back, I realize there really wasn't another answer. Can't wait till next week. Blessings, Patty

    ReplyDelete
  23. I want to print all the posts from this series and have our book club read it! Have you ever considered writing a book on your adoption story? You should!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dang! You know how to keep me coming back for more. I know everyone says it but you have a way with words my dear and someone better publish you dangit!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Such a sweet story! Thank you sooooo much for sharing! (and oh, the funny questions of stupid people - "does he know karate?" ROFLOL - although I am fully aware that they may not have been very funny for you to answer; I admire your patience with human ignorance).
    Hugs, Lola

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love these stories. And I love those pictures of your little chunk monkey. And you are absolutely glowing with happiness in every one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love these stories too and seeing the pictures of Calvin....so cute!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. brought tears to my eyes! adoption is hard, but such a miracle!!! oh and our sweet silas is ethiopian and you would just laugh your head off at some of the comments we've gotten, including, "has he got some chinese in him?", to "do ethiopians have more teeth? or maybe they just look so white against his dark skin", to "will he speak english", and the like. those are the moments you have to laugh instead of go halfway crazy.
    ps this series is making me want to adopt again. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. It's always interesting hearing the experiences of another adoptive parent.

    I think the weirdest thing about those first days and weeks was how much of a tourist you become in your own house and town. Things you never noticed before become interesting to you because they might possibly make your new child laugh. The most mundane items around the house get evaluated for their pleasing textures, their colors, their safety for mouth contact. You feel like your walking around with your eyes open for the first time.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love reading these....they bring tears of happiness to my eyes.


    This should be a book!

    xo,

    annie

    ReplyDelete
  31. What a lucky mama to get to rub that tummy! Precious! Thanks, as always, for sharing your story. I love knowing you!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Amazing! They are so lucky to have you and Cory as parents!

    ReplyDelete
  33. These pictures are priceless, Shannan. Such a precious little baby. That first one of you and Cory is especially sweet - nothing like brand new parents and their new little roommate.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love how you tell this story. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I don't comment often, but I just had to tell you that of all the adoption posts, this was my favorite. Maybe I'm just emotional today, but my eyes are watery now just thinking of your journey. I can't wait to read next weeks installment :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Oh sweet Ruby - I can't wait to hear about her next! What a great story you are telling my friend! It makes me cry every week! I can't imagine the foolish questions you had about Calvin, but I slightly can. Aubrie got glasses at 20 months & we had people say the most ridiculous things to us about them all the time - as if we put our baby in "fake glasses" for fun. Oh the things people say without thinking! Can't wait until next week!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I LOVE these posts, they are so wonderful and I love Calvin's chubby baby face. He is soooo adorable with a beautiful smile. What a lucky family. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Such a great story, of your heart and how you were feeling during this process. I hope it continues to touch so many reading here, and who knows how is resonates.

    ReplyDelete
  39. thank you so much for telling this story. i am in tears (at work....).

    M

    ReplyDelete
  40. So sweet, all those baby photos of him so happy...melts my heart!! you certainly were a lucky family of three! :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Just finished reading this series from the beginning this morning. What a wonderful story God is weaving in your life, with your children. Thanks for sharing it with us. I look forward to the next installment!

    ReplyDelete
  42. This warms my heart...can't wait to read the next chapter.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Wow! talk about God being in control

    I love the questions they cracked me up, I've gotten some crazy ones but karate...and will he be black...hilarious!

    Thanks for all the pics, so beautiful your boy is.

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm enjoying a walk through memory lane of your past hairstyles! And enjoying the series, too, of course! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  45. Oh I love this book!! What a beautiful baby he was! Isn't God fun?

    ReplyDelete
  46. The stranger comments...they are too funny. Thank you for this post, as we are in the midst of knowing our call to adopt, but not sure yet where or when that will be. I love how you say this story isn't your own. Amen, friend.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I'm so behind in my blog reading I finally pressed "Mark all as read" but then I headed over here to read the whole adoption series, because that sounded just too good to miss! And now I can't wait til next week!

    ReplyDelete
  48. I have adoptive-mom friends and they are a real comfort to me, but they haven't written blogs about their experiences. Neither have I- at least, not a BAS (tho my husband is working on one right now @ http://homekettle.wordpress.com/). I like hearing about experiences that seem similar to mine. Maybe someday I'll have a BAS and you'll be able to see what for me was the same (and what was different). Thanks for being one of those people that paves the way. I don't really understand why, but it really lightens my heart. :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Calvin's baby pictures are so cute. I can't believe the crazy questions people asked you (and probably still do)

    ReplyDelete
  50. Still loving this series Shannan.
    I really am having trouble believing the ridiculous questions that people have asked you. Too funny!
    Anyway, I'm loving this series so much, that I've posted about it today on my blog to share you and your story with even more people.

    http://myperspective2.blogspot.com/2010/10/shannans-big-adoption-series.html

    Ky xx

    ReplyDelete
  51. ooooh! i just love this! i love walking through these memories with you. can't wait until next week!

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'm convinced that is why Calvin is as verbous has he is now - you. I don't notice that Aaron looks different either - so I totally get that. I loved seeing the pictures of you and C-man. Loved little chunky Calvin. Love your heart. And then....there was Rubes.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I just want to say how much I love and am encouraged by this series. To God be the glory!!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I love this- can't wait to read the next part, and go back and read the previous!

    ReplyDelete
  55. I love the story about Sherry taking him to the grocery and having the elderly gentleman ask if Cal was a midget. One look at those all knowing eyes is why he wondered. I agree with Sarah about the walk down hair style lane with you.

    ReplyDelete
  56. this post took my breath away. "this story was not our own. it had never been."
    i don't know you or your family, but this adoption series gives me inspiration and hope. thank you for writing! praying for you and your family ~ a sister in Christ, Mandy

    ReplyDelete
  57. I am loving your adoption series, I feel the same way we just turned in our contracts and we are about to start our dossier. This is is such an awesome experience and have loved reading about yours! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  58. "The story was not our own. It never had been." So perfectly said, for all of us. Thank you Jesus, that our story is not really ours, but Yours.

    ReplyDelete