Mona Charen | The Struggle is Worth it
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The Struggle is Worth it

He is short, bald, toothless and incontinent. He is inarticu­late. His vision is lousy. He cannot walk. He needs help to sit up, tum over and burp – and he is the most winsome, delicious, adorable, engaging person we’ve ever met. He is our son, now 7 weeks old, and the center of our universe. The call announcing Jonathan’s arrival and availability for adoption, though we were prepared for it, sent our lives into tumult. A theoretical baby is very different from an actual baby. There were still last-minute supplies that had to be purchased. How could we have overlooked cotton balls?

We flew to the Midwest the morn­ing after The Call and were introduced to Jonathan at the adoption agency at 11 a.m. It was, in all honesty, a somewhat strange way to begin parenthood. We had been told by telephone that the baby was dark com­plexioned -and I had spent 20 hours convincing myself that dark -skinned people have the best lives. No worries about sun­burn or skin cancer. ButJonathan was actu­ally fair, with blondish hair and gorgeous blue eyes. But appearance was the least of it. He is, without any question, a beautiful child. The strange part about the first few days of an adoption is the sense of distance. Is this really our baby? He looks like someone else. He has someone else’s genetic predis­positions. Are we just the babysitters for someone else’s child?

Since this was an interstate adoption, we had to spend three nights in a hotel with our new son, awaiting the approval of child welfare officials to take the baby out of state. We spent a lot of time staring at him and the rest sterilizing bottles and nipples in a microwave oven and hunting around the neighborhood for something to eat besides room service food. But very quickly, that special something that happens between babies and their par­ents began. For me, it started during those first days in the hotel. After his bottle, just as he was drifting off to sleep, Jonathan smiled. Just gas, they say. But what a melt­ing sight! His potential, his humanity, his personality, were giving us a preview.

The trip home, thanks in large measure to the kindness of US Air, who put us in first class, was easy. But we hadn’t been home one night when Jonathan fell ill. Everyone says this is par for the course for parents. Kids get sick, and it’s rough for mom and dad. But Jonathan got very sick. The pediatrician said it was an intestinal virus, and that we’d have to ride it out. But the baby got worse. After three days, he couldn’t keep anything down. He was start­ing to get dehydrated, and he was one miserable little person. We admitted him to the hospital.

 

First Published November 18

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