I finished reading Joan Didion’s Blue Nights last night once we returned home from our Ruidoso trip. I could hardly put the book down while we were there. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. As enthralled as I was in this book, a huge part of me thinks I shouldn’t have read it, as Didion details many of the fears I’ve had over adopting a child.
Recently, I’ve been wanting a child so badly, I’ve almost told my husband, “Screw it. I don’t want to wait anymore. Let’s adopt a child now. There are so many children that need a good family. Why are we waiting to start the family we’ve been wanting/trying to start for years now?” Every child I see makes me want to say it more and more.
But then, I read the following from Blue Nights:
Adoption, I was to learn although not immediately, is hard to get right.
As a concept, even what was then it’s most widely approved narrative carried bad news: if someone “chose” you, what does that tell you?
And then, later on in the book:
All adopted children, I am told, fear that they will be abandoned by their adoptive parents, as they believe themselves to have been abandoned by their natural.
All adoptive parents, I do not need to be told, fear that they do not deserve the child they were given, that the child will be taken from them.
I already feel as if a child has been taken from me, as if the two children I’ve dreamed of my entire life and named then renamed over the years have been taken from me, and then I read that last passage. It’s more than heartbreaking. It’s the continued breaking of the already broken pieces. In this case, the heart is not a metaphor. I can feel its aching.
Before we even knew the “final” results of Tim’s condition, we’d already ruled out adoption for the same reasons Didion writes about. I never thought about an adopted child feeling “adopted” or as if he or she were a matter of “choice.” My biggest fear was Tim and myself being abandoned by our own child in favor of his or her biological family. What constitutes one’s “true” family?