The Missing: "Parenting Is A Crapshoot"

A reader elaborates on a central theme of this thread:

I have an aunt and uncle who struggled with infertility for years. She had a serious case of endometriosis and hormonal issues that caused miscarriage after miscarriage, and one pregnancy was etopic and nearly killed her. Devout Catholics, they took it all as a sign from God that they were not meant to have children "the old fashioned way", so they decided to adopt. They told the agency they signed up with they would take any child, any age, any race, any health issues. They just wanted to be parents. Two months later, they received a call from their agency. "We have a match for you."

They got a newborn, biracial daughter, born seven weeks premature to a crack addict mother who picked them simply because they were willing to take on what ever God was willing to throw at them.

The mother was a mess, but had a moment of clarity at some point in time that her infant, if the child even survived what was sure to be a torturous beginning of withdrawal, would likely have severe health issues. And she did. The first year was hell for my lovely aunt and uncle, who were not rich but comfortable enough. They had the benefit of living in Canada, which has a great pediatric system, so medical costs were not a major issue, even if the medical issues were real.

There are still issues even now. My cousin is fifteen. Physically, she appears to be healthy. But she suffers from an extreme case of OCD that was diagnosed when she was in preschool, where the fits she threw were so bad that they actually had to pull her from her class and deal with the underlying issues before they re-enrolled her. She is super sensitive to touch, and seams and hems of her clothes feel like razors. Her treatment has made this easier for her to deal with, and she has been in constant therapy since her infancy. I have no idea if her prenatal environment caused these issues, although I suspect that it was a significant contributor. How can anyone be sure?

If you ask my aunt and uncle if they would change a thing, they always say no. I love them even more for that. My cousin is beautiful, bright, funny, and warm. She is loving and is a great nurturer to her siblings.

Less than a year after they adopted her, my aunt miraculously got pregnant and stayed pregnant. They had a son. When he was two and a half, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. They were already in the process of adopting ( it took longer this time-two years, but they were again willing to take any child that was offered to them). Fortunately, the surgery worked and he is a healthy kid of thirteen.

They welcomed a second adoptive daughter eighteen months later, who was perfectly healthy, then another miracle happened and they welcomed their second biological son, who is also healthy, two years after that. They are all beautiful, lovely kids, well mannered and talented. They have been raised by two people who love them unconditionally.

I have three kids of my own, all around the same age as my cousins. My eldest is a dream child, the type I wanted and imagined I would have. My younger two are as well, even though one is dyslexic and has many other learning disabilities that require my frequent attention, and my youngest was born with several health problems, ranging from hypoglycemia to a congential hearing loss that has no known cause. I worship each and every one of them, for the joy they bring me always outweighs the pain and terror they sometimes cause. Their hugs make up for the fact that they always steal the ice cream out of the fridge and eat it all before I can get a taste.

Parenting is a crapshoot. There is no guarantee that the child you give birth to will be healthy, or won't decide to commit suicide when they're fifteen, as my friend found out last year, or start using drugs, as another cousin discovered recently of her sixteen year old son. There is also no guarantee that the crack addicted baby you have been asked to adopt will be a morose, horrific problem child. If we obsess about getting just the right type of kid, for whatever reason, we will always end up disappointed somehow. Children are not the perfect reflections of us. They are human beings- flawed, maddening human beings. There will always be a problem. There will always be an issue. There will always be a solution. And there will always be love.

There is if you parent right. And that's the one thing missing from this conversation. If YOU parent right. The onus is on you.

Another echoes the sentiment:

OK, before I say what I need to say, here are my "stats": Me: 56 year-old white female. My kids: 12, 13, 15, all black all adopted from Texas. Each one is fabulous, infuriating, beautiful, lovable, annoying, lazy, industrious, sweet and snotty in their own inimitable ways. Just like we all were. I'm not going into diagnosis, school grades, social skills, or any of the other "blah blah blah" because it is PARENTING that is the kick in the ass, not adoptive parenting.

Adopting black kids out of Texas, I never waited more than 4 months, and the costs were about 1/4 of what it costs to adopt either internationally (ANY ethnicity/color) or in the USA (white and/or hispanic). I was 41 when I started adopting, and adopted as a single parent. If I wanted to be cynical, I could give you a price list.

Genetics are a crapshoot. My kids' gene pools are way better than mine, frankly. My family carries the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I'm the only one of my sibs who doesn't have to worry about passing it on. It's all serendipity.

I have dropped ALL judgment about the politics, business, and racism inherent in adoption. Did you give a kid a home? Do you love 'em? Do you do your best? Good. End of discussion.