Monday, December 29, 2008

Conjoined

For Christmas, my Dad bought me a giant stack of books from my Amazon.com wish list.

I uploaded the books on the list more than two years ago and then forgot all about them.

Each book I opened surprised me and I thought,

"What the heck is this?!"

I started reading one about conjoined twins, two sisters connected at the head.

In the story, they are abandoned by their birth mother and adopted by their nurse.

I put the book down to get ready for bed and found myself thinking about adoption.

Before I was a parent, I used to wonder more about whether or not it would be possible to love an adopted child as much as a child that I conceived.

I assumed that adoptive parents grew to love adopted children equally, but, if I am honest, I confess to having some doubt about whether or not this would be true for me.

Now that I am a parent I feel differently.

After all, I find that I'm the type prone to parent them all anyway.
"Hey, you! Yes. YOU. No kicking... and keep your hands to yourself!"

[Etc.]

I now think that if I were handed a child and told that he or she was my responsibility going forward, I would likely love them as much as my own.

There's something about the simple act of parenting that involves or maybe even requires loving fiercely.

Maybe it's the protective instinct that kicks in when we understand ourselves as responsible for another person.

It is my responsibility to keep you safe. I am responsible for you. I will try to protect you.

[My teeth were getting a better than usual scrubbing.]

I went on to ponder what the world would be like if we all felt that way about each other.

I don't mean a world in which we all parented each other.

But one where we all felt responsible for each other.

Connected or obligated... or something.

26 comments:

Jennifer said...

Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if that were so?
*sigh*

manicmanicurist said...

that is a wonderful thing to contemplate. I wish it were so.

liliannattel said...

Yes it is fierce loving. It is the kind of love where you would instantly lie down in front of a car to protect your child. I am the mom of 2 children through adoption. They are my own, and I love them more than my life. (And they changed the direction of The Singing Fire which I'd foolishly intended to be a different book.) I fell in love with them instantly, though I know both adopted parents and bio moms and dads, who grew to love their children. Each bond is unique and this is true however the child comes into the family. Sometimes it's instantaneous and sometimes not. I remember the day I was waiting to find out who my child was. I was far from home, being interviewed about my latest book, and kept calling long-distance. Finally at the airport, on the way home, I called my husband yet again, and he told me that he'd gotten the package with my child's name, weight, picture and birthdate. Sight unseen, and knowing that most of the info was probably wrong, she was born into my heart that moment. Even writing about it makes me weep. It was just the same with my second child. That time I was home to get the call, my husband on one phone and I on the other, all blubbery again while I found out where my second child was, her name, her weight. All such facts meant nothing really, but that my child was on her way to my arms. And I cry just as much recalling that moment. All I can say is that I cannot imagine my family any differently. The fierceness of my love cannot be matched by any mama bear for her cub or any tornado uprooting a house. They are mere pikers compared to the love I bear my children. I suspect that I am not alone in this. Probably pretty common, though not universal. And I agree that if we could take even a dot of that love to extend to all people, the world would be a much better place.

Lori said...

The Girls, right? I just read that book. It's really good and makes you think a lot. I still think about it quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

I think the world would be such a more peaceful place if women were in charge. I'm definitely convinced there would be less warring... But I think men tend to lead because women are so busy with having and caring for children. ;)

-Vanessa

liliannattel said...

Oh and I forgot to mention The Lucky Ones: Our Stories of Adopting Children from China. A very cool (or rather heart-warming) anthology.

Maddy said...

Hopefully we already do, last time I checked I think it was called 'humanity,' but it's often hard to remember these things when we do violence to our teeth.
Best wishes

dry skin care said...

What a nice surprise that your list was purchased after this time.
My brother bought everyone wholesale lots of books from Ebay. Westerns for my dad, novels for my mom, and cookbooks for me. It was a lot of fun to sift through them and see what we got.

marymurtz said...

Beautiful post. And I loved the term "loving fiercely." You nailed it on the head. I fiercely love my daughter, whom we adopted from the foster care system. She has absorbed our mannerisms and expressions and we have absorbed her molecules, so that if you tested our DNA, I believe you'd find a match. To me, there is no difference between nature and nurture.

flutter said...

I can say that I love my own birth daughter fiercely but I am not her parent.

I can say that I love my niece fiercely, but I am not her parent. What I can say and agree with you with every fiber of my being is that family is not only made of blood.

Sayre said...

Fierce love. Yes. Exactly.

Something that springs from the very core and envelops all within its sphere, be that children, spouses, pets or the old lady down the street.

What a wonderful world it would be.

Mimi said...

Ah Jess, what a thought. I'm going to ponder that. A very intriguing idea, for sure, but I fear I lack ... something. I don't know that I can love everyone. I am more apt to fiercely love my close and dear ones, and then ideas. Ideas more than people. It's a failing.

carrie said...

Imagine...

And you know how I feel about adoption...love sees past biology.

jen said...

i really, really loved this post, friend.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

'and I'd think to myself what a wonderful world.'

WILLIAM said...

I am not sure about the adoption thing...I have heard too many stories of evil step moms treating their birth children better than their adopted kids.

Stimey said...

I think I'd like to live in that world.

Lynn said...

I agree... We have 2 and I want a third and I always think about adopting. For all those reasons...

Now.. let me be funny too:

Not only to love on another kid but can you imagine having a child to love that you didn't have to go through the 9 months of agony to get them there?? sorry, pregnancy just didnt' sit right with me...

Actually, as I think about it... I might fear I would love the adopted child 10 times more because they came pain-free!

Claire B. said...

Love is love. I haven't ever given birth but I've adopted five live beings that I've loved with all my heart. We all need each other, animals, humans, plants. All You Need Is Love. Love is all you need.

Beautiful post.

kittenpie said...

I can't imagine that you would NOT fall in love with a little child placed in your care and your arms. I fall in love with little kids at the library all the time, just seeing them every week.

JCK said...

Fiercely loving. That's what happens. You ache with it.

Yes, the world would be an amazing place with that connection. Oh...it would.

Happy New Year, Jessica!

marymurtz said...

Just to clarify from someone's prior comment--adoption vs. giving birth is not pain-free. Believe me. You might not get stretch marks, but there is plenty of emotional pain that traditional birth doesn't bring.

But the comment was still funny!

gina said...

Just like the old fashioned notion of community or the neighborhood I grew up in back in the day- when my mom knew that there wasn't a house between home and where I was heading that wouldn't be watching out for me. *sigh* still looking for this type of place to raise my children in permenently.

Expatriate Chef said...

We should adopt one another, yes.

I do think more and more about this (in the traditional sense) as I am getting too old, maybe, to have another, and wanting one, and my child wanting a sister, and agonizing over it back and forth. Somehow getting a dog just isn't quite enough, either ... ugh.

Happy New Year to you. I'd adopt you.

Penny said...

Can you imagine if we all felt fiercly loving and overprotective toward each other, how our own ideals, morals, values, judgments and fears would ruin our relationships... Not at All to burst the bubble.. but, I, like you - I dare say, suffer the affliction of loving deeply and protecting overly, my friends, etc.. and have had to pull back so many times and remember to love rather than protect, because there is a point where you can't do both without harming something in the person you love or/and creating something bitter in yourself.

Loving each other, I completely agree with. And protecting each other's dignity and respect as far as we can reach without infringing on dignity and respect, I totally agree with, as well.

I just finished brushing my teeth, too. ;)

You rock. Hope your New Year is Fantastic, OTJ!

HW said...

I saw Marie Osmond on tv years ago and, when asked which of her children were adopted she said "I don't remember." I LOVE THAT ANSWER.

This is a great post and will give me a new mindset for the new year.