Our son, Nico, came home to us forever on July 20. It seems an impossible task to describe the emotion surrounding this experience for which we have waited so long... the anxious anticipation of seeing him in the airport, the incredulous disbelief of realizing the wait was FINALLY over, the indescribable joy upon seeing his happiness in our home, the uncertainty of how far to “push” him each day, the gut-wrenching feelings of grief for all he's lost, for all his birthmother lost, for all the time I have lost with him... Many times a day I fluctuate between the paradox of “it feels like he just got here” and “it feels like we've always had him.”
I remember the first time we took him out in public. It was on day three. We went to the flea market and I remember feeling very conspicuous. I didn't expect to feel this way, and as I looked around I wondered what other people were thinking. Were they judging us? Did they realize he is ours? I started feeling defensive and was imagining all of the comebacks I would spit out if anyone said anything. That probably sounds ridiculous, and at this point it feels ridiculous. I am coming to understand that dealing with feelings of entitlement are equally as important as dealing with feelings of attachment.
Speaking of attachment, it's amazing to me how quickly it's happening. People always talk about how resilient children are. It's SO true. I believe that Nico already knows that Nick and I are his parents-- I don't know how he understands that concept, but he does. He is comforted by us when he is sad, he wants us to be proud of him when he does something well, and his face lights up when one of us comes into the room. Sometimes I have to remind myself that everything he is experiencing is new. I tend to get frustrated when he won't eat or when he doesn't follow my instructions. I think the fact that I forget that he's new is very telling of how well things are going.
I don't want to paint an overly rosy picture of what the transition has been like, because there are times that it has been very hard. We've had to deal with screaming fits of rage, temper tantrums, and night terrors. We've had to deal with health stuff like bad diarrhea, skin problems, the 15 (yes, 15!) vials of blood they had to take to test him for various illnesses, the 8 shots he's already had to catch him up on his immunizations, urine samples, stool samples... we've been busy! But overall it has gone so much better than we could have ever imagined. Nico is a happy boy. He's smart, funny, playful, cuddly and (as you can see) extremely adorable.
I am finding that all of the adoption lingo (which I once found a little silly and cliché) is now so meaningful to me. I will always remember Nico's “Gotcha Day,” I love being his “forever mommy,” and the phrase “born in my heart” rings so very true. Having had two children born from my womb prior to Nico's homecoming, at times I would secretly wonder how it would feel once Nico was with us. I had no doubt that I would love him, for I already did, but I wondered what it would feel like. I look at my biological kids and I see traces of me and Nick in them-- I see Nick's eyes on Nia and my chin on Josiah. I look at Nico and I don't see my chin or Nick's eyes, but I see my heart and I see Nick's heart in Nico the way I see it in my other kids. And really, isn't that what matters?