Becoming a Grandmother Through Adoption
Published in ChicagoNow, February 14, 2014
I could probably write a book called What To Expect When You Become a Grandmother through Adoption, but for now I’ll stick to 4 main points:
It is a tough, unpredictable process.
Seeing your kids go through the stress, sadness, and pain when it doesn’t work out is hard.
The happiness when it finally happens is amazing.
You will forever be grateful to the birth mother who made the very tough decision that turned your kids into parents and gave you the honor of being a grandmother to her baby.
Looking back on how David joined our family through adoption, it was as good an experience as one could expect. My anxiety came from my lack of understanding. Of course, his birth mother wanted to spend a day with him to say goodbye. That makes sense now, but at the time, it made me extremely nervous that she had changed her mind and my kids would come home empty handed.
Happily for our family, they came home with David I had a brief visit with him because he was born on June 7, 2010, almost exactly one year younger than Tyler. We were already in Indianapolis for Tyler’s birthday, and David was born in Ohio. How lucky I felt to be able to cuddle my new grandchild when he was only a few days old.
Unfortunately for my son and daughter-in-law, the state of Ohio was rather slow processing their paperwork. By the time they got home to Massachusetts and organized their lives, David was 7 weeks old and the time for a bris was long gone. No problem — we are a flexible family and so they had a baby naming/bris (without the pain as he was already circumcised) at their home.
My father was still alive then and this was the last trip my parents took together. It wasn’t easy as their flight was canceled, they had to take a connecting flight, and they were 89 and 87 years old. So this photo is priceless:
The journey to Caleb’s adoption was much longer and more challenging. What I learned was that some adoptions fall through, even after the baby is born. So when Caleb was born on December 12, 2013 in Florida, I held my breath. In Yiddish, there is an expression, beshert, which means something was “meant to be.” That was certainly the case with this precious baby.
Because Caleb was in Florida and it was uncertain how long they would have to stay there, we decided to wait until they brought him home to see him. It didn't make sense to buy plane tickets to go there, only to have the family flying home before we arrived. Then, after they got home, the polar vortex and crazy snowstorms descended. Luckily, the weekend of Caleb’s baby naming party we were able to get there between storms. I'm sure I drove my kids nuts whining about how "I can't wait to meet him." Thank goodness for Skype (otherwise known as grand-parenting in a box). Like my mother and her mother before her, I had now 8 grandkids, and I wasn't happy I couldn't cuddle this last little guy sooner.
I had to wait seven long weeks to meet him, but considering how long my kids waited for him, I can’t complain. I am so grateful to his birth mother for the amazing opportunity to become Caleb's grandmother. Holding him, I was reminded of how I felt when I first became a grandmother almost 11 years earlier. I was melting inside and totally smitten once more. That’s the part of being a grandmother that’s hard to describe until it happens.
The children of my children made me a grandmother and brought me so much joy. Just as each of them is unique, how they came into my life is a unique story. Over the span of almost 11 years, my job description evolved from being the Founding Director of Cherry Preschool to being a consultant and communications coordinator to being a blogger and writer. Through all of these life changes, my identity as Gramma never wavered.
While I may have left out details or misremembered some things in sharing these birth stories of my grandchildren, I will never forget how each of them added so much to my life. To all the children of my children, to all my precious grandchildren, I love you guys to the moon and back!