By Melinda Connor
I remember the excitement of finding out I was pregnant like it was yesterday. I also remember the day I lost the baby. It was 11 weeks into the pregnancy and I had gone for a scan. I remember asking the doctor to turn the volume up because I couldn’t hear a heartbeat and I remember him telling me it was up.
I cried for months after that. I cried for what could have been, what would have been and what would never be. I cried at baby showers and at christenings. I cried at birthday parties and any gatherings with small children and babies.
I cried when our specialist told us that In Vitro Fertilization was our only other option but given my age (over), weight (under) and lifestyle, the chances of it being successful were slim. And I cried meeting a private social worker for the first time to discuss adoption. The process seemed fraught with paper trails and red tape. The idea of handing over control to birth mothers and fathers, in the hope they would pick us over thousands of other couples, left me feeling helpless and hopeless.
I stopped crying the day I met my daughter. She was 6 weeks old and she was at the Lighthouse Baby Shelter in Sundowner. It was love at first sight for me, as I held her in my arms. While we waited for the paperwork to be processed I visited every day and our bond grew stronger. Staff at the shelter would tell me how she’d get niggly an hour or so before me arriving and that she’d take a while to settle once I had left. So, until she was home with us, I varied my visiting times and tried to keep them down to several times a week.
Just before Emma turned three we adopted a baby boy. Ben was 7 days old when we met him and just ten days old when he came home.
We are now a family. My husband, my daughter, my son and I. A little different from some because Emma and Ben are black and my husband and I are white, but we face the same challenges other families do. We worry about their education and safety, we worry about them making friends or being bullied. We worry as to whether we’re being the best parents we can be and if we’re raising caring, respectful, kind little people.
I also worry about Emma’s hair, which is thick and healthy and gorgeous, but a nightmare to brush. When strangers pass rude comments about our rainbow family I worry about the state of our country and whether we have made any progress. I worry when people ask me how I intend to teach Ben and Emma their cultures and how we’ll explain why they’re black and we’re white. Deep down I worry that they’ll resent me one day for not being their biological mother. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. If I do.
For now I’m loving being a mom. Not to adopted children. Not to black children. To Emma and Ben, my pre-schooler and toddler.