Two years ago, I walked into a stranger’s hospital room just hours after she’d given birth to a little blue eyed, blonde boy – my boy! I hadn’t foreseen adoption when I embarked on my own journey of becoming a mom. Such an unconventional path – a mom would go to a hospital and give birth to a beautiful son, but a different mom – me – would be taking that son home. Though the process was out of the ordinary, there was no question in my heart – this was my son Tristen, now and forever.
His existence in our hearts was conceived one night when Ken and I looked at each other and said “Let’s have kids.” Little did we know, that very month, our son’s older sister was born (who was adopted by another family) and it would still be more than a year before his mom would become pregnant with him. The day I carried him out of the hospital was the day a two year dream came true.
I have an inexplicable connection to both of my sons—Trey was the child who would routinely go 23 hours without moving inside my uterus (if baby goes 24 hours, it’s the first signal of concern to doctors) and when I see his calm, thoughtful personality, I remember my pregnancy. He’s always been this way.
I have a different connection to Tristen. Ironically, he looks just like me, and our birthdays are 4 days apart. With him, I have the questions that existed in my heart answered daily: What will he look like? What will his personality be like? He existed in my heart well before he was even conceived, and daily I celebrate who he is and the little person he is becoming.
Adopted children respond to the initial rejection from their biological parents in different manners, and psychological studies show that most of them exhibit specific behavioral patterns. One of these currently manifesting in our family involves food. Our darling angel can pack food into his mouth faster than a squirrel can pack nuts. He’s convinced that his mouth can fit his whole sandwich, rather than a rational sized bite. He chokes, coughs, gags and tries to take drinks to help it all down. “Smaller bites,” we say, but the minute we turn our backs, his entire cupcake has disappeared….and it is not on the floor.
His little mind is saying “I need to eat enough food today so if they abandon me tomorrow, I will have prepared for it,” despite the fact that in his 2 years of life we have neither abandoned him nor forgotten to feed him.
And yet my heart does that, too. Even though my Christian faith tells me I’m God’s child, and that He takes constant care of me, I often find myself stuffing my stomach, my schedule, my bank account, and my dreams, so I have something in case God abandons me. You know–just in case. He has never let me down before, but my fears tempt me to accumulate, and to prepare for the worst.
I look at Tristen, and laugh at his cupcake-filled mouth, and all the little crumbs left on the table. I think that’s how God looks at His adopted children too. When we worry, wondering if He will be there to provide for us, He sees our anxious insecurity, our proneness to fear and accumulation, and laughs: “Smaller bites, Darling. Smaller bites.”
Roanna Canete currently lives in Rome with her two small sons and lovely husband Ken.