Saturday, January 14, 2006

Broken Resolutions

Lumpyhead laughs when the people around him laugh. I don’t know if he thinks the sound of our laughter is funny, or if he simply reflects our emotions back at us. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems easier to get him to giggle when I’m honestly having fun. I think he picks up on my attitude, whether he understands what is going on or not.

I wonder if Lumpyhead loves Bump and me. Is he capable of love at this age? Does he feel how much we adore him? Is he actually fond of us, or are we just familiar to him? Does he remember us? If we were no longer part of Lumpyhead’s life, would he miss us? Would he wonder where the Tall Man and the Lady with the Hair to Pull went?

My older brother, Ron, suffered from terrible separation anxiety. He was adopted at 18 months, and lived with a foster family for a year before that. My parents describe him running to the door each time someone knocked - hoping the new visitors were his foster parents. His foster father always wore a cap, and when someone in a cap came to visit, Ron would dash to him, only to be disappointed. “He was sure a sad little boy for that first little bit,” my mother said on a recent visit. It wasn’t the first time I heard her describe Ron’s initial few months with them, but this time it choked me up.

Ron would scream at night unless he slept with my mom and dad. Not just in the bed with them, but snugly between them or on top of them. My mother says Ron liked to sleep directly on her chest - like he wanted to be sure she wouldn’t go anywhere without him noticing. As a woman who had desperately wanted children for years, having a child who clung to her in the night was heaven for my mother. I believe Ron needed my mother as much as she needed him.

Ron was 6 months old when he was taken from his biological mother. She left him without supervision to meet up with a gentleman friend. Some children walking to school heard a baby’s cry, and they called for help. Ron’s mother had left him alone in a car, in a gravel pit, overnight. It was October in Northern Minnesota, and he was wearing only a tee shirt and a diaper. I’m told Ron’s mother had seven children, but each was removed from her custody by the state.

I think Ron struggles with the idea of his biological family. His wife urges him to seek out his birth family, but he’s resisted thus far. My parents suspect my sister-in-law of having financial motives to find Ron’s biological family; she believes casino money awaits him. Thus far, he has declined to make contact. Ron refers to his birth mother negatively, but I find I feel for this woman.

Could I leave my baby in a car, unattended, overnight? Of course not. Do I feel motherhood has trapped me for the next 18 years into a lifestyle I’m not sure I want? Sometimes.

My life is so different from what I imagine hers was. I have a partner who is enthusiastic about being a dad, and even seems to dig me, which is a nice bonus. I am a college-educated 34-year-old with adequate financial resources, and I still sometimes feel like I’m in over my head. She was a young high-school dropout, single and poor. I don’t understand her behavior, but I cannot fathom her situation.

I wonder how Lumpyhead would think of me if he had been taken away six weeks ago. Would his opinion be so negative 38 years from now that he would refer to me as a slut? Would he have any memory of me? Would he know how much I love him?

I wonder how I could cope, if I were this woman. Would I wail and become despondent each time one of my seven babies was taken from my care? Would I grieve for them? How could I have a fourth child, after the first three were removed from my custody? A fifth? A sixth? A seventh?

Would I vow to do a better job each time I discovered I was pregnant? Would I think, “This baby will be different. This baby will know his mother and love her, and know how much I love him?” Would it be similar to how people feel on New Year’s Day, convinced they’ll stick to their diet, only to find - maybe around this time in January - that it’s too difficult to change their lifestyle the way they envisioned?

I don’t know if Lumpyhead is a mirror of my emotions or if he feels things. I don’t know if he’s really annoyed when tummy time lasts too long, or if that’s just the sentiment I impose on him. But if he can sense when I am happy and laugh in response, surely he must feel something when I hold him as he dozes and feel as though my heart could burst.


Heather said...

I wonder the same things about Miles. Sometimes I wonder if something happened to me (god forbid) would he be able to tell from the photos we have taken up to now how much I love him? I look forward to when he can talk so I will know more about what is going on in his little head.

The story of Ron's mom reminded me how lucky I am. Like you, I have so much support. It is a luxury to have the complaints I have. I cannot imagine being in her situation.

I also wish every baby could be born into a safe, secure home. I liked what you wrote about your mom and Ron both needing the comfort of sleeping together - if only every child who needed that could find it.

singlewheatfemale said...

me thinks, and wonders...
hey u r soooooooooooooooo lucky you have the crutches, to go abck on, if you know what I mean...
me wishes too that all are safe and hearty on this wonderful place, we call home.

please do navigate over to my blog too,
I am sure you will connect, yes everybody does....

Michele said...

Wow, i never read this before. It was before I discovered your blog.

Alot to think about. My brother is adopted from Vietnam. He came over on Operation Babylift and for the first 2 weeks he was placed with another family - an older, childess couple who was expecting an older child, not a toddler. He cried quite a bit, and they decided they could not handle it. The agency then looked on the list for a family with children and found us, a family with three nautral born girls. When he came, he didnt cry for several weeks. Ever. He would fall down and hit his head and get up and just keep walking. He was only 19 months old. A child psychologist told my mother that he had probably made the connection between crying and then being rejected by the first couple, and did not want to risk rejection again from us so he stifled his tears. At 19 months. Just thinking about my boys, at 21 months, having the wherewithal and fear to stifle their natural need to cry makes me cry big fat, hot tears.
Enough highjacking of your comments, this is a blog post of its own.