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Mommie, How much did I cost?
By Mary G
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Mommie, How much did I cost?
The moment every 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 Taiwan.

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 Builder.

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:

  • A feeling of 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.
  • 1.5 pounds of paperwork
  • Three vials of blood, one physical, 15 visits to the doctor’s office because the notary screwed up... again.
  • Multiple social worker visits…are we there yet?
  • At least 5 headaches from thinking up creative answers to questions 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).
  • Two 14 hr plane rides.
  • An overnight stay in Tokyo when we missed the connecting flight to Beijing
  • A sleepless night in Tokyo brought on by really reading all the earthquake warnings on the back of the hotel room door.
  • My first mommie 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.
  • At least two weeks of feeling like someone dropped off their child with me and forgot to come back and get her
  • Two months of 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
  • The cartilage in my knees as I learning to crawl out of your nursery with out making any of the floor boards creak, knowing full well you were still awake, but going hoarse from all that singing.
  • Learning how to 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.
  • Experiencing the 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.
  • Finding out there was only one true color and that was pink, pink, nothing but pink, so help me God.
  • Finally 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?
  • The realization 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 never replace you either.

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,
the patience I so sorely hoarded because it was in such short supply,
the 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.

Copyright © Mary Gummere, All Rights Reserved

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