When Mills first came home, I was extra sensitive about how
people perceived our family. Immediately upon walking into a store or
restaurant, I would scan the eyes of every patron trying to determine their reaction. Eventually, I
realized that they were staring mostly because I was a random woman hovering and
glaring at them. Creepy.
I never wanted anyone to give us
more/less attention because we are a transracial family and had a hard time adjusting early on. But over the years, I feel like I have become
exactly opposite of that. I think
most adoptive families would agree after some amount of time, you actually
forget your child is adopted. In
the most literal sense. For instance, it never fails to surprise me when others giggle as I reflect on how Mills looks so much more like me than Matt. Sometimes when he reaches for my hand, I am shocked to see that our skin doesn't match.
I am not a hover-er or a panic-er when we are in
public. I have my bag of crazy in
terms of mothering, but I’ve always given Mills space and freedom to move and
explore. (But, if you expose my
child to one single television show apart from my “approved list”, I will have
a mental breakdown. Don’t you know
that one episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants could change the trajectory of my child's life?? See? Crazy.)
Today was one of the first beautiful days since winter
happened. And because winter
“happens” to me in the worst of ways, we have been cooped up, in our pajamas,
losing our mind for months. In celebration of Spring and warmth and not-winter,
I kept Mills home and we went to the zoo.
There is a playground he likes with tunnels and bridges and spots only
tiny people can go, so I can’t see him as clearly as other playgrounds we
Recently inspired (guilted) to put my phone away and just experience
the moment, I watched as his little striped shirt came in and out of visibility. His war-cry can been heard even amongst
a bazillion kids because, he.is.so.loud, so I could hear him constantly.
Suddenly, I realized I hadn’t seen him in an unusual amount
of time so I left my spot and waded through six hundred toddlers. When I didn’t find him, I
went back to my seat knowing that he’d surface sooner or later with demands of
fruit snacks and milk. (so gross)
Several more minutes passed and I still hadn’t seen
him. At this point, my brain
kicked into over drive and made up for every relaxed moment I’ve had as a
mom. This was really happening and I had no idea what to do. Blood rushed to my face and I
couldn’t hear anything. Frantically,
I started yelling his name and running.
I don’t know where I ran, I just felt like I needed to be moving
The next few moments were the scariest of motherhood so far.
As adrenaline surged, I had the thought that someone could have
taken my son and left the zoo. I
darted into a café a few hundred feet from the playground and several people
started pointing to the front saying “there! He’s over there!” Apparently the “I can’t find my child
and I’m about to lose it” look is a universal one.
My little man was quietly standing with a walkie-talkie-clad
zoo worker. “He's just fine. I was about to
put out a call for you,” she said with the kindest blue eyes. As I threw myself towards him, I thanked
her and focused on not vomiting. "Where was he? Where WAS he?" I held my baby and started shaking all over.An elderly woman appeared in front of my face and said angrily, “You
lost him. He didn’t have parents
around so I had to make sure he was safe. SHE took care of him." She pointed to the zoo worker.
And in that moment, I remembered that we are different. Also, I almost punched some one's Mee-Maw. I am certain this lady had the best of
intentions, but she took my child off of a playground because she didn’t see
any adults who shared his skin color.
I am feeling so many things as I write this, but mostly, I’m
sad. I’m sad that Mills won’t live
a life where family seems simple and uncomplicated. I am sad that someone can make a judgement about us by the
way that we look. I am sad that
even when we forget we aren’t like everyone else, the world remembers.
So, even though my heart has forgotten I didn’t physically
carry my son, my mind is heavy today.
What will his tomorrows look like?
Birthday parties, sports, MIDDLE SCHOOL??? Will he understand that his presence in our family is a
literal miracle? Can he grasp that he was not “unwanted”, but doubly loved by
his birth mother and me?
These are the hard moments in adoption. When I don’t have the answers and I am
engulfed in fear. So, I have to
put it aside. I have to ask God to
remind me one hundred times a day that He has always known Mills was ours, and
He will care for us in all of our tomorrows.
I am currently researching children’s “leashes”. When I find one that says “birth to age
seventeen”, I’m ordering it. So,
don’t judge me when you see my son tethered to me for the next fourteen
years. I can’t help it.