Still, it makes me pause when people learn that we adopted a child and follow that up with: that was so nice of you to do. If I try to help them dig themselves out of the hole, they just worsen the problem by elaborating how very much our adoption was a measure of charity. A good deed. A gift to some presumably abandoned, unwanted second-tier kid that will never compare to their superstar snowflake who was one adoption shy from being the next George of the Jungle.
Just, no. No, people. Adopting Carmen was not a good deed. It wasn't something nice I did for pats on the back and karma kudos points. Adoption was the choice to put ourselves out there to be considered to parent a child that we would only be able to love because a birth mother loved him or her first. I had to nix the insecure thing and tell complete strangers about myself in hopes that they would like me enough to deem me fit to raise the child they had given birth to. No pressure, right? I mean, I wore Converse shoes with heels to school in tenth grade because I didn't care what people thought of me. I submitted Bitch by Meredith Brooks as the song that best describes my life for an eleventh grade final project because I didn't care what people thought of me (I failed). I dyed my hair blue and green and purple as an adult because I didn't care what the other moms on the playground thought of me. But when it came to a birth mother reviewing our profile? I have never wanted to be liked more for my raw, vulnerable, truest self. On the other end of our profile was a mother who was about to make the most difficult, loving, selfless decision. If anyone is to be praised, it is the birth mother.
Raising Carmen is not a charitable deed. It's not something that makes me commendable or heroic or worthy of praise. Raising Carmen is the greatest honor, joy and privilege of my lifetime. It is one that I will never take for granted even on the hardest days. It wasn't a good thing I did to sit my husband down and have the conversation that my body was closed for conception purposes. It was the easiest choice we ever had to make, as loving a child should always be. What comes easier than loving a child placed so lovingly in your arms? What is easier to imagine than falling in love with a baby who was deemed yours by the birth mother who delivered her into existence?
And still, these statements are usually followed up with a "but I could never love a baby who was not my own."
But that's where you're wrong, stranger. She is my own.
She is my own, and my love for her is effortless and infinite. She is my own, and raising her is the greatest honor of my lifetime. This isn't about charity, stranger. It is she who is the prize, the most valuable gift. I am simply humbled and lucky beyond words to have been chosen to call her my daughter. I did nothing praiseworthy to get myself to this point, but I will devote my life to loving every moment of mothering her, just as I was chosen to do -- just as all mothers should.
Alchemist tee by Wire and Honey