Adopted Children Adopting Children
Here comes another personal story from the Hubs spokesperson for alcoholism and adoption. I can hear some you now screaming, “MY GOD, MAN, DO YOU EVER WRITE ANYTHING LIGHTHEARTED?”
Well, as a matter of fact I do, but few of you read those Hubs and besides, I’m busy showing my versatility as I anxiously await that phone call from a publisher offering me a six-figure advance on my next book.
And now back to reality! The reasons for my Hub choices are very simple: I am an alcoholic and adoptee and I believe in writing about things I know. I also have a silly and irreverent side to me so once in a while we just toss out some FF….Funny Fluff…for your reading enjoyment and for my brain to relax and my emotions to subside a bit.
So today we move back to the subject of adoption and in particular to the day my then-wife and I adopted our son Tyler.
“We should adopt a child. What do you think?” My wife at the time had a nasty little habit of tossing out questions like that without any warning. Show me a man who thinks that quickly on his feet and I’ll show you the patron saint of men. What did I think? I was thirty-five at the time, trying to pay the bills as best I could, spending way too much time drinking and I was only capable of thinking about one day in advance. I answered in the only way I could think of at the time….with a question of my own.
“What prompted that? We’ve never talked about that subject before; why now?” Having fired off those remarks I was able to gather my wits a bit and get ready for the conversation that would change my life forever.
She was ready for me and she said the only thing that could have kept all of my rebuttals at bay: “Well, haven’t you always wanted to have a child? Don’t you think it’s about time so you can experience parenthood before we are too old?”
Yep, she had me hook, line and sinker. I had always wanted a child; I had always dreamed of being the same type of father that I had. I wanted to teach him to play catch (it was always a boy in my dreams), teach him the difference between right and wrong, slip him some cash for his first date….yes, I had always wanted to be a father. My wife was unable to have children at the time and for some reason it never dawned on me to adopt, a rather remarkable statement since I was adopted myself.
Making a long story short it didn’t take too much convincing to get me onboard with this plan and so the research began. Adoption agencies could only assure us we would have a child within five years and that just seemed much too long for a couple that was aging quickly. By word of mouth we ended up with the name of an attorney who had connections and did this sort of matchmaking; we met with him and within six months a pregnant mother was found who wanted to place her child (yep, a boy) up for adoption. Her birth date was, coincidentally, nine months from the time we had first started talking about adopting. We were, in a manner of speaking, in the baby business.
We met the mother finally and about all I can recall about that meeting was that I was scared to death that she wouldn’t like me. In a matter of a few short months I had gone from the most surprised husband on the planet to the most excited soon-to-be father one could imagine. I had poured all my energy into baby books and naming a baby books and handling a baby for the first time books, but nothing could dispel the nervousness I was feeling. I would lay awake at night imagining the first time I held our son. I would lay awake at night wondering if I had what it takes to be a father. I would lay awake at night scared to death that I would somehow get it all wrong and mess up this child’s life forever.
The mother was as gracious as a pregnant, unwed seventeen year old could be under the circumstances; she instantly liked us and gave us her blessing. The necessary forms were signed and then the real waiting and worrying began in earnest.
The remaining time was spent preparing the “baby room” for the new arrival, buying baby clothes, buying baby toys, buying baby linens, buying baby books….and worrying. I got up each day, went through the daily rituals of life, put on a brave face and battled self-doubts and fear on a minute-by-minute basis. I spent very little time concerned about the added expense and the change that was about to overtake us; I was much too busy worrying that the child would be sick or would be born dead and how in the hell was I supposed to be a father when I couldn’t seem to get my own act together? I drank way too much and I knew it but I had yet to admit I had a drinking problem; I was still working on fine-tuning my drinking so that it would be manageable. Of course that was a pipe-dream but at the time I didn’t think so, and I was convinced that I could control my drinking once I had the responsibility of a child to raise.
We were told that sometime around the 20th of October the baby would arrive and that the mother was in fine shape and handling the pregnancy well, which of course only increased the apprehension. As October arrived I was terrified; I wished with all my heart that my own father was alive so he could walk me through it and give me words of wisdom and tell me what it was like for him when I was adopted. The only words of his that came to mind during those last few weeks were ones he said often to me during the twenty years we had together. He would always tell me that things were going to be okay, that at the time of all the emotional turmoil it sure doesn’t feel like they will, but things will be okay. And I tried to take those words to heart but I was still terrified that somehow I was going to screw this all up and ruin a life.
We got the call on the morning of October 23, 1984. The mother was in delivery and we would be called as soon as the baby was delivered. I rushed home from work and sat in the living room with my wife and held her hand and tried to be brave and tried to hold my emotions in check and tried not to drink and tried and tried and tried.
I held him for the first time three days later. Tyler Damon was his name and he had all of his toes and fingers and he smiled at me and my heart was his for the rest of my life. All of the emotions that I had held in check came out at that moment and I cried quiet tears as I looked into his eyes and realized that this was my son; not of flesh and blood but every bit my son. I thought about my parents’ feelings and emotions when they held me for the first time. Did they feel the same things? I think they did. Did they harbor the same self-doubts? I think they did. Did they know that their lives had changed forever and that regardless of DNA I was as much their son as if I had been created by them? I think they did.
You see, I believe that parenthood involves so much more than simply pro-creation. Parenthood is acceptance and commitment and instilling values and a love that comes from nowhere but is all-consuming. Parenthood is a state of mind as much as it is a physical connection. Parenthood is a selfless act of giving and it makes no difference whether your sperm interacted with her egg to create that miracle that you hold in your arms.
There are no handbooks that can adequately prepare us for being a parent. You can read until you are blue in the face but nothing prepares you for the first time your child looks at you and grabs your finger and falls asleep in your arms. There is nothing that can prepare you for the flood of emotions when your child first smiles at you or when they recognize you as their safe harbor.
I have been winging it since that first day, drawing upon past experiences and lessons learned and hoping for the best. My son is now twenty-seven years old and I still look at him at times and get choked up when the realization comes back to me that this functioning adult is the product of my cluelessness and love. Those first days with him will forever hold a place in my heart, and when days come when I have self-doubts about myself I look at my son and realize that I did okay, that this adoptee adopted a child and loved him just as strongly as any birth parent ever could.
Mom and Dad, thank you for the lessons learned and the love you gave me. It all turned out alright for your son and his son. I am truly blessed!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
To purchase my adoption book on Kindle go to:
- The Adoption Guide: The Adoption Process
TheAdoptionGuide.com: The most comprehensive adoption information resource for families planning and preparing for an adoption.
- A Message To Adopted Kids Everywhere: Stand Proud!
This message to adopted kids focuses on the natural feelings of abandonment and rejection that many feel. To all of you who were adopted I say to you stand proud!
- A Letter To My Birth Mother Who I Never Knew
Adoption for birth mothers is a difficult decision; in the case of this author, it was the right decision made by his birht mother.
- Adoptive Parents | USA.gov
Official information and services from the U.S. government