Friday, May 11, 2007

Cheating-- on becoming a parent for the second (or third) time

So you know we've decided to begin our process for kiddo #3. I was talking to a friend who is a mom of one this week about whether she and her husband are ready to start thinking about #2 yet. Her daughter is almost 1. She laughed at me. Not ready yet. And that made me think about how I felt when we were contemplating number two so many years ago.

We've always planned on having at least 3 children. Where the kids would come from, the number of years between each one-- those details, well, we left those to be determined.

When Casey was about 16 months old, we began talking about preparing to welcome a second child into the family. In my head, I thought a two-and-a-half year spread between children would be just about perfect. And our first adoption took about a year from start to finish, so we figured we should start the process again when Casey was around 18 months old.

But when the time came, I suddenly wasn't sure it was right. I didn't know if I had it in me. I still knew I wanted Casey to have siblings to grow up with. As one of four kids myself, I (literally) can't even imagine growing up as an only child. And I want Casey to have that same sense of one great-big-happy family that I was lucky enough to grow up with. But I felt so conflicted about it. Two years, it turns out, really isn't that long with a child. If we had a second child, it would mean less time and attention from us for Casey-- at least initially. Was that fair? Would he understand? Did I want to give up even minute of these precious years?

I remember calling my mom and asking her if she felt similarly when I came along. She basically told me I was nuts. And while I felt better about the notion of adding to our family, her comments didn't completely alleviate my deep-seeded concerns.

But by the time Marcie came along, my worries had completely dissipated. The adoption took longer than we'd anticipated, of course, because of the number of waiting families for babies from China. And as much as Casey loves Marcie, these past nine months have definitely been a transitional period. When I sit on Casey's bedroom floor to watch him get dressed, for instance, Marcie pretty much always toddles over, backs her way onto my lap, and plops down. Inevitably, this irritates Casey who wants my complete attention. And he starts dancing around the room, sometimes singing and sometimes screeching like a dolphin. It slows him down. When he finally gets a shirt on and Marcie wants to go point out what character he's wearing, he gets mad that she's poked him in the chest. Initially he responded by pushing her back. Now he knows better. But it took time. Training. And we're all the better for it now. But I'm not going to cherry coat it-- it hasn't been easy all this time.

Another thing I think I considered but couldn't really anticipate for sure was how Marcie's sleep pattern would disrupt Casey. For instance, the other night, when I put Marcie to bed, she started to cry. This worried Casey, who wandered out into the hallway and stood outside her door on the opposite side of the baby gate from her. He began yelling, "MOMMY! COME HERE! MOMMY! MARCIE NEEDS YOU!" Now, bless his heart for trying to help his sister out. But not good for his routine. I told him if she cried for more than 5 minutes, I'd move him into our bedroom. Fortunately, they were both asleep shortly thereafter. And I think Marcie's middle of the night wakings have disturbed Casey on occasion, too. There have been far too many nights where I've just bounced from one child's bedroom to the next, calming them down and sticking around until they fell back asleep.

And so here we are-- given the current wait times for adoptions, we know we have to get started soon if we hope for our children to be fewer than four years apart in age. I have no qualms about bringing a third child into our family. I've spent so much of these past 5 years researching, talking about, or participating in an adoption, I imagine it will feel very strange some day when we are no longer actively contemplating it!

So, as conflicted as I felt-- as worried as I was that I'd be cheating on Casey to bring home a sibling, I can honestly say I don't feel that way at all this time. Bring it on! (Of course, Jason who will be staying home full time by the time we bring home #3 may feel a little more overwhelmed by this prospect than I do. But I doubt it.)

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