Doing the Math

When I was pregnant with Cricket, I knew that his was going to be the ideal adoption math; he would lose nothing by being adopted, but only gain. It was perfect! He wasn’t going to lose his biological family, because we’d always be a phone call away—plus we’d send birthday presents, which is pretty good proof of love and devotion. And he’d gain health insurance, and a family who owned their own home, and a mom with a real salary, and parents who had never for a minute been freaked out or upset that he was going to be born. His prospective adoptive moms seemed like really cool people, and they said that they wouldn’t walk away if he was born with problems, because you don’t do that when you have a child. I knew that I’d be able to raise him, but I also knew that Ruth and Nora could give him more than I could—so why not give him more?

The first birthmothers I met in real life asked me whether Ruth and Nora have a pool, and whether Cricket will have a horse. Several times I was asked this, and I found it so confusing: a horse? What on earth? It took me an embarrassingly long time to put it together; they assumed that I’d pick rich people. And in a way, they weren’t far off; I was extremely poor and picked middle-class people. Heck, even Ruth and Nora were surprised when they realized that I’d picked adoptive parents less well off than my own parents. I wonder whether subconsciously I was picking people whose economic class seemed plausible for future Susie.

Now my developing son is kicking me in the cervix (over and over and over: fun new game for a little bird!), and I’m revisiting the question of what I have to offer a baby. I have a quick list of things that are different (I’m married, I’m not living with my parents, Mr. Book and I are both working), but none of those are really decisive things; it’s a list that I use to shut people up before they can ask questions I don’t want to deal with rather than actually useful information. We’d be married now whether or not we’d placed Cricket—we got engaged right about this point in that pregnancy, come to think of it. We would probably be living in Missouri, and I’m sure we’d both be working (and thank goodness that I can work from home). So what do we have to offer a baby? Well, we’re boringly stable—no smoking, no drugs, drinking very occasionally that is now on an indefinite hiatus—and we can fit diapers into our budget. We will love the crap out of our kid, and we’ll be able to get him health insurance; it turns out that we could have gotten insurance for Cricket, too. Who knew? I can be a stay-at-home parent, and while we don’t own a home, we’ve got an apartment with room for a crib and a little running around. I don’t have any second thoughts about parenting—I worry about failing the kid, but that’s something I would worry about regardless of our circumstances, and I know that I’ll do my best, as will Mr. Book.

It makes me feel a bit better to see the baby stuff in the apartment. Toward the end of my pregnancy with Cricket, I would occasionally say to myself, “I can’t possibly keep this baby; I don’t have any baby stuff!” That wasn’t strictly true; I knew that I’d have him to myself for a day, so I bought a small package of diapers and some wipes (which I gave to Ruth and Nora when I handed over Cricket) and a couple of newborn outfits. But that was a pretty pathetic stash of baby gear, and it led to my hope chest—the crib in my office is proof that I’m ready to parent. Quite frankly, if we could afford it, I’d probably go badly overboard on clothes, toys, and gear for the little dude.

I still don’t know what Cricket has lost. I tend to say that I’ll have to wait for him to tell me what he’s lost, and while I think that’s not untrue, it’s also kind of a cop-out; it gives me an out for at least another few years. I know think that it’s unlikely that he lost nothing—but at the same time, I do think that keeping the little bird is a great thing for me and for my husband rather than a great thing for the bird himself. I also don’t think the little bird would be better off with Ruth and Nora—I suppose I still think that it’s mostly a wash for Cricket, although I do now regret that he’ll miss out on some things I really enjoy.