We're rapidly moving to the point of having a family with three children (I'm 28 1/2 weeks pregnant now) and preparing for that has been surprisingly low-key. Most of that is because we already have children and there's very little that we need. Oh sure, there are a few things that we'd either borrowed the first time around or have given away since Patrick was a baby but we have a crib, we have a carseat, and we have clothes. Since I'll be nursing the baby, that's practically all we'll need. The changes to our household until the baby actually arrives are pretty minimal. The playroom/guest room is being converted back to a nursery, but that's simply a matter of moving furniture and toys. I'm still reasonably comfortable and so our normal activities have stayed the same.
One bigger change that I have noticed is the sharp drop-off in the times that we've been asked if we adopted because we couldn't have more of 'our own'. (I mentioned at one point that all of my children are mine, regardless of what blood we contain, so I won't address that again right now.) Apparently the fact that I could get pregnant again and am now visibly so means that we clearly didn't adopt for reasons of infertility. And ultimately, that's true. We didn't adopt because I am infertile. We adopted because it was how we chose to build our family. We had the option of doing more fertility treatments and trying to get pregnant again then, we had the option of choosing to raise Patrick as an only child--we had many other options. We had already planned to adopt before Patrick was born. We chose to adopt at that time because it was the right choice for us. Living in our family now, I can't imagine having made any other choice.
What makes me uncomfortable is not that view because really, it's fine that people don't look at our family and see "adoption" = "infertility". I wish more people realized that no one adopts because it's their only choice--everyone has other options. It makes it easier on me and it certainly will make it easier on Melkamu not to be hearing that all the time and wondering if that's the only reason. No, what makes me uncomfortable is that people seem to have transitioned to the view that for our family, "adoption" = "selfless rich people who saved a poor little starving orphan".
I've written about the costs of adoption in the past. That post has nothing to do with money, and money really isn't the biggest part of adoption--we are certainly not rich. We are not selfless. We wanted another child. We chose to adopt a child from another country, which means that we took him away from his home country. We also chose to adopt a child of another race, which means that he's being raised in a completely different racial environment than that of his firstfamily. We made those choices deliberately and while we feel like we can do a good job being his parents, we know we're not perfect. There are a lot of burdens to adoption that Melkamu will bear. Selfless? Hardly.
Don't even get me started on "saved".
It's true that his firstfamily was poor...but not all firstfamilies are poor. It's true that he was malnourished and might have starved...but not all firstfamilies lack food. And while he fits the definition of an orphan for international adoption, he does have a living firstmom. Many children who are adopted have living firstfamilies.
When you are a family formed through adoption, you learn a lot more about the world than you might have otherwise. I've learned a lot about Ethiopia that I might not have otherwise been moved to learn, and that would have been a terrible shame because it is a beautiful and fascinating country with an incredibly interesting history. I've learned a lot about international adoption, about the ethics and issues involved in the process--much more so than I knew before we'd started the process or even when we were fully involved in it. I continue to learn more about it now. I've learned a huge amount about adoption in general, about the history of adoption and parenting children by adoption and all the issues (both good and bad) that are involved in adoption.
The changes that our family are making right now have helped me realize that there's even more to learn, and I'm so glad that we chose to adopt so that I had a reason to start doing so.