Saturday, March 21, 2009

How I Came to My Decision

Every time I thought about the idea of adopting a child from China, a dozen different fears leapt forward and crowded in close around me like a horde of hungry pigeons at the park. You know, the kind that attack the pedestrians with the peanuts. They hover. They sense what’s coming and they’re poised and ready to strike.

I had so many questions, so many concerns. They stalked me.

How would I do it alone? What would I do if she got sick? Could I afford a child? Would other families accept us? What if my family wouldn’t accept her? What if we didn’t like each other? What if I couldn’t handle it?

It was overwhelming to think about it and I didn’t know how to think about it. So I pushed the decision away. At the back of my mind, there was still that glimmer of hope the right man would arrive (complete with armor and dashing steed) making the question irrelevant.

My life continued and followed a reliable rhythm. I tended to my dog. We went on long walks each day and he gave me great joy. I consulted. I wrote. I took dance classes, and I dated. But the relationships didn’t gel for me and one day I stopped to study my face in the mirror. My 40th birthday was not all that far off and I wondered if my life, in the end, would be nothing more than the sum of a string of broken relationships. Then, it struck me. What if avoiding the decision to adopt, became in effect, by default, a decision not to adopt? A non-decision kind of decision. I didn’t want to wake up when I was 45 or 50 -- in a panic -- with regrets. The question presented itself:

Did I really want to go through life without the chance to love and raise a child?

I wish I could say I grabbed my sword and shield and swashbuckled my way (complete with bandana and eye-patch) aboard a ship bound for China. The truth is: I sat down at my desk, grabbed a pen, a blank sheet of paper, and sketched out a list.

A list? you might ask.

Yes. I know it sounds terribly clinical and logical and I hate to disappoint. But it started with that list. Not that everything else flowed clearly and smoothly from that point forward. Hardly. But I’m jumping ahead...

I scribbled down all the questions and concerns that for months had circled relentlessly along well worn paths in my brain. It was cathartic to get it down on paper, to release it, and look at it. Suddenly, the demons didn’t look quite so daunting. I sat back and looked at the first question -- and realized there were ways to address it.

Before I knew it, I’d created a second column on the page (Be still, my little linear heart!) I worked through the questions, one by one. I scratched out some numbers, rough figures, and a few calculations. Then I paused and stared. For each question there was a practical solution or answer. It hit me:

I could do this.

My mouth went dry and my hands felt cold. This was do-able. I had flexible work hours and was financially secure. There were innumerable local and community resources for me to draw upon. Most importantly, I had a strong support network and loving family I could, most likely, bring round. It hit me again:

I could do this.

Then something odd happened. A well of sadness surged up within of me. I broke down and wept.

For all my logical, practical thinking, there was something I hadn’t yet reconciled. Taking this step meant giving the nod, giving in, letting go: facing the death of a dream. We grow up with this dream and we take it for granted. It’s the dream of sharing the journey.

I’m not ready.

I tucked the paper away.

Max and I walked two, even three miles a day, by a nearby lake, through a beautiful arboretum. We walked rain or shine, though it mostly rained. It was early spring and we walked under gray clouds and gray skies through gray drizzle along gray gravelly paths down by the water’s edge.

My feelings didn’t shift overnight. Our walks continued and I let myself feel sad. New shoots of grass sprouted by the shoreline and the cattails and pussy willows opened. Fresh shades of green overtook the gray and the birds grew noisy. One day the sun poked through the thick canopy of clouds and I stopped to watch a swallow dart, swerve, and flirt with his reflection in the water. A light white feather, a puff of cotton, floated by on a current of air. The swallow swooped and grabbed the cottony puff tight in his bill. He flew with it -- then released it. It hung suspended, right where he left it. The swallow turned, darted, swooped, dove, and caught it again. I laughed. When I turned to resume my walk, I noticed a man in the distance walking with a child strapped onto his back. I flashed on an image of myself, walking with my daughter packed snug and close to my body.

I felt no sadness. Only a twinge of excitement.

1 comment:

hellojog said...

You are such a beautiful writer, Lisa. I love reading about your life. Keep it coming...