did I cost?
adoptive parent dreads….right over the fish sticks, French fries and
peas….the question I had been waiting to hear, just not so soon.
Annelise (adopted from China four years ago, now age 6), coming up for
air from the ketchup pool on her plate, looks at me with her dark eyes
and asks “Mommie, how much did I cost?”
Me: “Cost? You didn’t cost a penny! Now eat your peas!” Situation
handled. At least for now.
But let me think about this again. We are standing, Dave and I, on the
shores of another “new” adventure. We are embarking on our 6th
international adoption, bringing home another five year old boy from
So, besides the obvious monetary cost of the process, how much did you
cost? There is no mystery where the question came from. It came from
four years of you absorbing our frenetic paperwork gathering,
fingerprint getting, notary signing, and budget deficit spending for
the four other children that followed on your heels from China. Or, it
might have come from Kindergarten, where the children are so worldly
they know more about where babies come from than they do about Bob the
Annelise, your question briefly halted me in my onward rush for total
enlightenment, acquired by getting 5 kids fed and bathed before 8 p.m.
bedtime. Your question has simmered and bubbled in the back of my mind
ever since. Together, you and I have gone through “you are adopted”,
“you didn’t grow you in mommie's tummy”, “not all babies are born in
China”, “yes, airplanes are to used for other things than getting
babies from China” and “no, you can’t have more cookies before bed”.
So, Annelise, here is how much you cost:
willingly jumping off the top of a tall
building with no
clue on how to land safely. I think it’s called a Leap of Faith. I’ll
let you know when I land.
blood, one physical, 15 visits to the
because the notary screwed up... again.
worker visits…are we there yet?
headaches from thinking up creative answers
there are no good answers to, such as: what will I do when I return
home after work to a totally wrecked house, a husband snoring on the
couch, walls decorated in rainbow patterns from glitter crayons, cat
vomit in a connect-the-dots pattern from the kitchen to the living
room, and a 16 month old in the middle of the kitchen making dinner out
of a Oreo cookies).
14 hr plane
in Tokyo when we missed the
connecting flight to
in Tokyo brought on by really reading
earthquake warnings on the back of the hotel room door.
moment when I learned what a being a
mommie was all
about after you threw up all the food I overfed you on the airplane
(after bouncing you on my knee), after stripping you down to your
diaper, after learning the airline blanket had not escaped the
projectile vomiting, and after getting ready to rip the throat out of
two smarmy airline hostesses who tried to ignore me asking for a
blanket, while my child turned blue from the cold.
weeks of feeling like someone dropped off
with me and forgot to come back and get her
singing every rendition of “Rock-a-bye
Baby” I could
imagine for at least 2 hrs every night while I suffered from a terrible
virus received from my trip to China, in the middle of the hottest
summer on record in Northern Michigan
my knees as I learning to crawl out of
with out making any of the floor boards creak, knowing full well you
were still awake, but going hoarse from all that singing.
stop dead in my tracks and pretend I
was still laying
on the floor sleeping next to your crib when you popped your head up
because I missed one lousy, noisy, damn floor board.
joy of eating a whole quart of
strawberries by the
side of the road with my 18 month old daughter, because you didn’t know
when to stop eating, and I was having too much fun to know any better.
was only one true color and that was
nothing but pink, so help me God.
understanding that dresses are better than
pants, with tights
please, the ones with the frilly bottoms, and what do you mean they
don’t come in 5T?
that no matter how many children I
adopt, no matter
how old I get, you and your brothers and sisters will never, ever fill
the hole created by the two babies that I gave birth to who died
because they were too young to live. And while you can never replace
them, they can
Annelise, you cost me everything I never knew I had inside me to give.
You cost me the
wall I built
around my heart when my babies died,
patience I so sorely hoarded because it was in such short supply,
personal space I thought I required, and
my unceasing quest for answers
from God who finally just plunked you down in my lap and told me “Look!
This is all you need to know!”
That, Annelise, is how much you cost. Now, go tell your Kindergarten
class that Bob the Builder doesn’t hold a candle to your mother.
© Mary Gummere, All Rights Reserved