This is the final post in a series about health and identity. Click here to start from the beginning.
Today is Erin Bohn’s Adoption Talk Linkup, and the topic of adoption fits nicely into the last part of my essay.
It has been almost eight years since my last pacemaker change. If all goes according to plan, I won’t need a new one for another 2-3 years.
A couple years ago I experienced an episode of atrial fibrillation, which required cardioversion to get things beating regularly again. The Afib messed with my pacemaker and until adjustments were made, my heart was beating at 60 BPM. I was exhausted. But without the pacemaker, my heart rate would be 30-40 BPM. In this experience I was able to appreciate how disabled I would be without the invention of this device.
I am currently the mother of three children. In 2008, just eight months after my pacemaker change, my younger daughter joined our family through adoption. A year and a half later, her older sister moved in, and we adopted her as well.
I understand the terror my mother felt when I was born blue and the sadness of not being able to hold me. My son was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck; he was placed in an oxygen incubator and I couldn’t hold him until the following day.
I am familiar with the constant worry of having a sick infant. My younger daughter was born tox-positive and experienced seizure-like withdrawal the first seven months of her life. Her body worked overtime to flush out the drugs, which resulted in failure to thrive..
I know intimately the frustration, sadness and anger that comes from a child with challenges. Although mine were physical and my older daughter’s are emotional-behavioral, they induce the same conflicted feelings.
My whole life I’ve wanted to make a difference in the world. I don’t recall ever wanting a career in anything else:
- Nun, until I found out they couldn’t get married or have kids. (There are days I question the wisdom in passing up this particular career choice…)
- Occupational therapist
- Probably many more I don’t remember.
I think my calling stems from what I have been through. I always identified the desire to make a difference with my career, but my mother once pointed out I can make a difference in my every-day life. I chose to do this by providing a loving family to children who needed one. (My husband had the same dream and it is one of the reasons I married him.)
When we began the adoption journey, I pictured us adopting a child 5-10 years old. God decided to give us an infant and a 3-year-old.
I have often wondered if God chose us to help the biological family more so than the girls themselves. By this I mean that because the bio family knew us before the girls joined our family, knowing that we adopted them has given them peace.
The girls will probably wonder what it would have been like to be raised by their biological parents or how their lives would be different if someone else had adopted them. It’s likely they will struggle with and question their identities more than other children.
I understand. I have often wondered how my childhood would have been different, if I would be a different person, and how much of my experiences have influenced my identity.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to gaze into the mirror without a “zipper” on my chest, even just for one day. Would it look beautiful because it’s normal or would I miss that part of me? I think it would be the latter.
Who I am and who I have become is interwoven with my heart surgeries. I cannot separate my identity from the defective heart that survived despite the 80% odds against it, nor can I separate myself from the scars covering my body.
And with each passing year, I am more grateful for these things.