We were talking to a friend not long after our son was born at 28 weeks. They’d also just had a baby and were saying the age-old line: We’re just glad she’s healthy. Which of course – that makes sense. It’s something to celebrate. And it’s rote at this point. A set answer – “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl as long as they’re healthy.” But that night when I heard those words I almost responded unkindly. I wanted to say, yeah I wish I could say the same thing but I can’t. I don’t know that yet. At that time our son was here – tiny, stable, here. We still don’t know what all the future holds, but we know he’s here. And that’s no small thing.
My heart has been breaking recently for too many people I know experiencing miscarriages, stillbirth, or infant loss. Who would give anything and everything for their child to be here – “healthy” or not. They know better than I do that for a baby to get here is an incredible feat. There are folks who make getting a baby here look easy and some of us who make it look hard. But it’s incredible any way you look at it.
Normally the “we just want them to be healthy” statement is reserved for biological children and addressed to those expecting. But there’s an interesting spin on it with adoption too. We had to check boxes with what conditions/ substances/ genetic conditions/ mental health concerns we would accept to matched with. This is an important part of the adoption process and the birth parents fill out a list of their desires too. It helps for children and families to match up well. Often babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome are not considered to be “healthy” – there’s a desire not to check that box. No child’s story is mine to tell but having the privilege of knowing some children with prenatal drugs exposure may I say that they’re here is a gift – and a less than “healthy” start does not dictate the whole story.
My husband and I look at each other all the time and say, “we have two children!” “Can you believe we have two children?!” They’re here. Of course I hope and pray for good health. Of course I hope that neither have long lasting effects from their prematurity. I pray and hope for their flourishing and health in mind and body and spirit. But I didn’t care if they were a boy or girl, I just wanted them here. The rest we will deal with as it comes. But they’re here. Thank God they’re here.