I just got asked again. ‘When will she arrive?’ I wish I had a euro or two for every time someone had popped me that question over the past year—ditto for every friend of a friend who was “interested” in adoption and wanted to pick my brains over a cup of coffee.
Not that I am being mean-spirited (well, maybe just a bit). Adoption is one of those subjects that generates wide-eyed wonder. People think you are either crazy or saintly (I was even called, rather disparagingly, “Mother Teresa” at one dinner party). Actually, at least in my case, they are mostly right. For the ‘crazy’ part I tick all the boxes: single, foreign, low-income and adopting from an ‘unapproved’ country. (More on that in a future post). As for the saintly aspect, well their legendary patience has certainly helped me to reach this point in my ‘paper pregnancy’, as it is called in adoption circles.
There are a zillion reasons for deciding to adopt—and it’s not my intention to analyse them in this blog. Instead, I’ll try and guide you through how to go about it in Catalunya. (I say ‘Catalunya’ as opposed to ‘Spain’ as the adoption process differs in each region). What I will do is share my motives with you.
Whether by accident or design, adoption has always been part of my life. Two of my best, most loyal and lifelong friends were adopted, and a couple with two adopted children I count as my pseudo-family here in Barcelona. During my 20s, I proudly boasted that I would prefer to adopt than have a biological child, at that point for all the ‘wrong’ reasons (I probably did fancy myself as some sort of a Mother Teresa in lycra tights). The idea of adoption was always boiling away, but as I got older, worldlier and more cynical, lazy arguments took hold: Do I really want to be a single mother? Wouldn’t it be better to contribute towards a better quality of life in their own country? and Who in their right mind wants kids these days anyway?
In 2008, the second argument led me to apply as a volunteer in a West African orphanage. I chose well, and landed in a small, well-equipped institution that afforded me close contact with the children. As seemingly happy and cared for as they were, I could see how, what they all really needed was one constant person in their lives, someone who provides basic needs and guidance on this wobbly, pot-holed road called life. One day I was sitting on the bus with my temporary ‘family’ on an excursion I had organised along with the other volunteers. A shy little girl, one that I hadn’t noticed much before then, turned around and looked at me. I swear she winked. She gave me a ‘come hither’ look that spoke volumes. Without words, but using her wide smile, bright laughing eyes and a toss of her head she seemed to say: ‘You and me. How about it?’ (I read the subtext as ‘What the hell else are you doing with your life?).
That was that then. I was smitten. I was going to be a mum. As soon as I got back to Barcelona I got paper pregnant. I’ll tell you more about the conception in the next post.