Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

The meaning of adoption

Adoption is hard enough to define as an adult, I had no idea how to explain it to kids, even my own. Especially my own. What happens when he wants to know why his biological parents didn’t raise him? Will he question how we were picked? Will he think my definition of a Christmas miracle is his definition of a Christmas forever ruined?

My cousin Maid Marian came to visit Baby along with her family. This makes perfect sense when you know I’m Lady Cluck. Her family includes Sis (age 6) and Skippy (3). She’s married to Dan. I have no idea why you expect she’d be married to Robin Hood, he’s literally a cartoon fox and what the hell goes on at your house?

Moving on, we met down in the lobby so the kids could run around and I could see a different set of walls. When it’s negative 15 degrees every day and your hotel window overlooks the bricked up side of a casino you start to get starved for sensory input.

The kids are playing, we’re discussing how winter break is going, I gratefully receive a gift that includes yet other things we didn’t know we needed, especially XL-sized swaddling blankets. Baby barfs all over one corner? Not a problem! You’ve got plenty left over to clean up, wipe off your own shoulder, clean off the counter, then roll up the messy side and use the clean side for the next burp! In the middle of the Christmas cheer I had one of those moments when real life suddenly throws up many more questions that you have answers. Sis loves looking at the Baby, holding the Baby, noticing how small the baby is. Sis is also as smart as her mom, meaning when Marian says “Baby was adopted! Do you know what adopted means, Sis?” Sis is ready with all the pertinent questions.

“It was this week? Was he ever in an orphanage?” I tell her not exactly, some very nice nurses took care of him for us before we met him. I add that right before Christmas we brought him home from the hospital. She wants to know if he’s going to be ours forever. The answer is yes. I have no idea where this is going.

So, while I’m stumbling over 10 different ways to explain that sometimes mommies and daddies can’t take care of a baby, and they loves that baby so much they give that baby a home with another mommy and daddy, and those parents love the baby just like he was born from her tummy, and it’s hard to understand but everyone did this from a place of compassion and care for the infant, and and and and and…

Sis does the math: Baby at Christmas + forever home + a spirit of goodwill =

“Elf! Your baby is just like Elf!”

I haven’t seen Elf, but Marian says “yep! Like Elf!” and she has excellent judgment so I decide to check it out. Weeks later, I’m home at four in the morning (I stayed awake all night, husband had early morning shift) and Elf comes on TNT. Why playing a Christmas movie in late January represents a good scheduling decision is a mystery to me, but it was appreciated nonetheless. I sit down with some pretzels and begin to watch the story of Buddy. Five minutes in and I’m crying (let’s blame hormones, shall we? Ignore that I wasn’t pregnant). There he is, the inimitable Bob Newhart, telling me that sometimes you work so hard that having kids simply doesn’t happen the way you thought it would, and then one day Santa Ed Asner brings you a mystery child that you will love no matter what he’s good at, how different he looks from the other elves, where he has to go to find himself. I’ll be damned. It’s right there on the screen for anybody to see. I’m Bob Newhart.

I am going to QUIT wasting time when it comes to explaining to kids how this Christmas miracle occurred in our lives. The new standard answer, which has yet to fail me, is “Elf. Our baby is just like Elf.”


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