Ban Babies from Support Groups Meetings!Posted by Donal Murphy on Jul 22, 2013 in Adoption, Adoptive Parent, Baby, Independent Adoption Center, Parenting
My wife and I have been attending the monthly support group meetings at our adoption agency, Independent Adoption Center (IAC), to keep fresh and up-to-date on some of the important issues in open adoption. It also helps provide a sense of momentum in our journey and an opportunity to connect with other adoptive parents in-waiting. And of course it doesn’t hurt that there’s always bowls of candy in the IAC lobby. I find it very satisfying that regardless of where I plop down, there’s a bowl within arms-length. Thank you IAC candy fairy!
Each time we go there’s usually a guest adoptive couple at the meeting who’ve brought their baby along to give their perspective on whatever the topic is that night. At a recent meeting, there were not one, but three couples present who had recently adopted, one baby as young as eleven days old.
But I’m very displeased! Those babies are an absolute and utter distraction and I urge the IAC to ban them from these meetings! I’m transfixed. I’m mesmerized. I’m spellbound by these tiny bundles of cuteness. So captivated am I that in Charlie Brown fashion, the facilitator’s words at the meeting sound exactly like those of Charlie’s teacher: “Wah, wah, wah, wah…” How am I supposed to learn and stay up-to-date with all of this distraction? It’s unacceptable!
So, here’s my chant directed at IAC leadership (join in if you’d like):
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
(Repeat till you go hoarse or IAC leadership listens, whichever comes first.)
I am of course kidding. Having the babies at the meetings is actually incredibly helpful to me in my journey towards becoming an adoptive dad and I’m so glad I get to ‘oh and ah’ over them while they’re there.
To be honest, the adoption experience to this point has been akin to buying a house – there is a lot of paper work, meetings with expert professionals, background checks, financial considerations, books and reports to read, preferences to articulate, and plenty of soul searching. But whereas with buying a house you can go out on the weekend and visit all of the open houses that meet your criteria, with open adoption, my wife and I in a way are playing the role of the house – we’ve erected the For Sale sign in the front yard and we wait for people to visit and hope they like the landscaping, the floor plan, and the amount of natural light that comes in through the windows.
Thankfully, however, seeing the babies at meetings is a wonderful gift because it brings joy to the wait and helps make what feels very abstract at times, very real and concrete.
As I’m sitting there watching them, I’m thinking the following: what will it feel like to cradle my baby in my arms for the first time; what will it feel like to feed him or her; what will it feel like to change a diaper and will I be able to do it in under ten minutes and not get my finger stuck between the sticky fastening tape and the diaper; what will it feel like to strap my baby in a car seat for the first time and will I end up driving at 30 mph in the slow lane with my hazard lights on and the biggest “Baby on Board” sticker super glued to the rear window. These babies have the delightful effect of engaging my imagination and I’m grateful.
But I also love to watch the new parents. I sit there and observe their overwhelming happiness and their sense of relief, accomplishment and pride. I appreciate that they share so candidly about their journeys, their ups and their downs, and the insight and wisdom they’re able to impart as a result.
And finally, I watch the other couples in the room and I get the sense that we’re all collectively experiencing the same thing—joy for the new parents, love for the babies, and a sense of expectancy and excitement for what is to come for us too. I imagine that we’ll be coming to IAC at some point with our babies in car seats to give our perspectives and hope to others. But you know what? Despite what I imagine will be my all-consuming attention on my baby, I’ll not be so consumed as to not remember to seek out the candy bowls in the lobby.