I have been avoiding this blog for awhile. It’s one of the reasons the content has been, well, not about adoption. I didn’t really want to share this with anyone, but something in me thinks it needs to be blogged. I actually wrote half of it before (in the afterglow of moving my blog back to WordPress and gaining lovely new followers – hi, you). Look, I’m already distracting… This isn’t easy to admit.
I turned down a referral. For those of you not in the adoption world, a referral is a child whose basic info is given to you as a potential child to adopt. I said no to a child. It’s still hard to believe that statement could be true. When I started the adoption process, I thought I was open to so many special needs. Abuse? I have some experience with abused kids. HIV? Sure, I can dispense meds and find an awesome medical team. I hate the thought of any child being left without a family. I abhor the thought of a child being passed over for someone younger or cuter. I thought there was a child that needed me. I didn’t think I would even consider saying no.
After just a few weeks of waiting on a referral, the director of my adoption program called me to tell me about a young girl. I didn’t immediately say yes, and I wasn’t sure why. What was known about her story was enough to scare others away; wasn’t that the kind of child I had wanted? What we knew of her story I could manage. I actually had some related experience. It wasn’t that I’d gotten cold feet, but it took me about twelve hours to figure it out.
Although I hadn’t immediately said yes, I hadn’t said no either. I hadn’t said anything. The director of my adoption program told me to think about it, so I hadn’t had to say anything yet. I thought about the little girl. I thought, “she needs me; this girl should not be alone.” I thought about how her name was a variation of one of the names on my list. Wasn’t that a sign? I thought, “I can’t say no.” Then I thought about me, and realized I wasn’t really what she needed. Of the little I knew about this little girl, it struck me that she needed a lot of stability. It struck me that she needed a two parent household. Brother 2 was living with me though, so I could provide a father figure. We had determined we would figure out this beyond normal co-parenting arrangement. Something about the little I knew about her made me think that an uncle might actually be frightening. I rolled it around over and over. I felt good about saying no and felt bad that I felt good about saying no. It has never taken me so long to type out just a few words as I composed the email.
I said no because I didn’t think I was good enough for this child. I didn’t know enough (nor would we be able to) to determine if my home might actually exasperate her grief or fear. I am sure there are some who will think that it’s a convenient excuse or even rationalization to say no. It could be, but I feel solid enough in my intuition to open myself up to the trolls of the Internet. I’ve been guilty myself of thinking someone was just baby-shopping when they turned down a referral. I get that you may be judging me.
It was my first experience as a parent of not being enough. No matter how many books I read or classes I attended or professionals I consulted with, I could not prepare a home that could be all I thought that she deserved, that she needed. I could not give her a stable father. I wasn’t enough, and I could not prepare myself enough. The mom guilt would have been constant, but worse, my gut told me that she would thrive better in another home. I was afraid she would never fully feel safe here. The director of my adoption program did eventually tell me that another family – a two parent family – said yes to her almost immediately. I’m hoping I get to meet them at one of my agency’s events. I hope I get to see her thriving in the love of a two-parent family. While I will never be her mom or probably even an adult she knows well, I still think about her often and want for her to have all she could need and more than she could want. I want her to feel safe and loved and confident and happy and capable and important and so much more. I would have given her those things if I could have, but I don’t think I could have been enough on my own.