People overwhelmingly want newborns, or at least very young children, when they adopt. I get the rationale: hopefully you get your child young enough so she doesn't remember her birth parents and you're essentially starting from as close to scratch as possible. I get it; I don't share it, for one very simple reason.
Babies mystify me. They speak a language all their own that I am not fluent in--I can't even pronounce a word of it. They communicate by means of cries and screams and smells you'd rather not smell and did I mention my worst baby-related fear, which is that I'm holding a baby, aw, nice, cuddle, aw, wriggle wriggle wriggle splat? You drop even a five year old on his head and he'll bounce right back up and say 'do that again Daddy!" You drop a newborn and you'd better have the hara-kiri sword near to hand. I'm not going to risk it, I'm sorry. Had we had kids of our own it would have been something I'd have had to come to terms with, rather like driving a car, which is hands-down my biggest phobia. (You people hold babies and drive cars so nonchalantly...do you not realize what you're doing? Piloting a tonne of steel and glass at terminal velocity through chaos in which everyone else has a quarter of an eye on the road and the rest of their attention on their phones? Carrying around three pounds of old nitroglycerin that's just waiting to sweat its way out of your grip, fall down and go boom? Or in this case, splat?
Eva has no problems holding babies--she loves to, in fact, and babies tend to love her the way older kids, anyone from three on up, invariably love me to pieces. But she, too, is reticent about that stage of babyhood, right there at the beginning, when the world is one big mystery to your baby and your baby is an even bigger mystery to you. We would have coped, and helped each other through the night screams, random barf attacks and all-too-frequent "Jesus, did it smell like that when she ATE it?!" moments, and come out the other side of it all the stronger, I'm sure. But that was not to be.
Neither was the adoption, for reasons never explained which still hurt today and probably always will. I've been rejected by whole battalions of people in my life, but never, not once, have I had a rejection come at me from so far out of left field. (Longtime readers will have seen this post before--anyone else, please go read it, because it's arguably the defining post of this Breadbin's ten-plus year existence.)
Seriously, literally every other rejection I've felt in my life, right up to the most recent one, either I saw it coming from a mile away or I should have seen it coming if I'd cared to look. Compounding the hurt: the idea that someone would summarily reject my wife, for anything. That still enrages me. You can dismiss me out of hand all you want, but you underestimate Eva at your peril. Throw that woman to the wolves and she'll come back leading the pack. We would have made it, damnit.
But we didn't have babies of our own and we were not allowed to adopt. For the most part, we have come to terms with this. It's grief, though, so it recurs at intervals, prompted by triggers that you don't need to know about. It can be assuaged by being with children. Especially children who have graduated from the incoherent blatting, belching and backfiring stage and been promoted to babbling, bargaining and blossoming. I love being an uncle to someone who knows what an uncle is. And Eva may be anti-doody, but she adores auntie duty.
This is all a big roundabout way to lead up to my feeble excuse for barely mentioning my second niece, Lily, in this blog. Lily exists; she was fashionably late to her zeroth birthday party, but she's been out discovering the world for three months now.
Her sister Alexa loves her very much.
And so do we.
True to form, you see me holding the child I know I won't drop. I haven't held Lilyanne yet. Nearly every time I've seen her she's been fast asleep (and if you think that would stop wriggle wriggle splat, you are not me. You could put a comatose baby in my arms and wriggle wriggle splat.
This will change, soon, and I'll be here to tell you what a wonderful girl Lily is and will grow to be. I look forward to being a significant part of the lives of both my nieces. I think I have a lot to give them both.