Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Pickup

During the homestudy, our social worker advised us not to let anyone else hold or feed Dessi for her first three months home. (!) She said children raised by their birthmothers instinctively know who their mothers are. Adopted children don't know this, so they're looking for this mother figure, and anyone who is giving them care or comfort is sort of automatically considered for the job, at least until everything gets more or less established.

To some degree this makes sense to us (my husband and me), and to some degree, no. We decided it would be fine if family and friends held her.

We were surprised, though, when total strangers met us with arms outstretched.

The first three people who asked to hold her, we basically didn't know at ALL (one was in the airport, for example), and we were so startled by the question that we sort of just handed her over more or less out of politeness. (And yes, we know it is our jobs as parents to abandon courtesy if it interferes with our kid's development. But we're NEW to this. Also, the no-holding thing was still a loosely formed idea.)

Then we prepared an answer. (No, oh thank you so much, but we're fine. Smile sweetly, change subject.) But at a kid-friendly potluck last night, a woman swooped in and picked up Dessi without even asking (I was standing over Dessi while talking to a friend) and then she started talking about how she is the Baby Whisperer (I'm not making this up) and kissing Dessi's belly and blech blech blech! So, just take the baby back, right? I mean, I literally do not even know this woman's name. But unfortunately, Dessi almost instantly starts giggling and cooing and seems to really LIKE this woman, so I stand there panicking and telling myself to relax a little and feeling indignant and wondering how much of this is just my ego because obviously Dessi is not uncomfortable and then also wondering how/why I should take Dessi away when she's clearly having a good time? (And yes, she has a good time with me and yes, I know, she likes ME, too. It's hard to explain.) Twenty minutes later I just walked up and took her back, some sort of smile, some muttered thank you, and we left for home.

Why do strangers want to hold our child? That either we or she would think this was a good idea?)

Partly I have privately (until now) speculated that it's ... maybe because she's so clearly adopted? That people think we have less authority or that she's sort of a community child or something? That seems pretty farfetched, though. It's probably just because she is so darn cute. It's just odd to me, because I don't think I've ever asked anyone if I could hold their child before.

Complicating things further, the social worker's words still are pretty loud in my ears, and I have this fear that somehow, because Dessi still might not know yet who her mother is (despite the rap song I made up, in which I repeat the line "That's right, I'm yo' mamma"), some baby-whisperer type might coo and coddle her into confusion or into liking someone else more than me. Even one time when a dear friend was holding Dessi and they were gazing into each other's eyes for a while, I felt a little sick to my stomach. I know I know I know. Very sad mamma confession moment.

I know that my own insecurities will fade over time, and that all of this is probably just the early path of adoptive parenting and sigh, what can you do? Dessi is doing so great, and at least people really are drawn to her and they don't seem at all confounded by our non-standard family unit.

Maybe I just need more sleep.

1 comment:

Katy said...

Oooohhh, so interesting. I read a lot of attachment stuff and have warned my family that I think they are not going to be allowed to feed, bathe, put to sleep, or hold our kids for extended periods of time for a little while when we get home. This is easy to say. I am expecting that it will be really hard to do. Strangers, I hadn't even thought about. It does seem crazy to walk up to someone and ask, and even stranger to not ask and just do it! I'm quite sure that would freak me out. Not that I would know, but it sounds like you have really good instincts and are not being unreasonable at all.