I’ve gone through phases of adoption dreams throughout this process. During the dossier paperwork I had rafts of them that tended toward the pregnancy dream type - small, fragile aquatic creatures that required responsible care and that I was always afraid of mishandling. Last summer, I had another spate of dreams, this time involving babies or toddlers.
This morning just before waking I had a very vivid one that I’m going to try to write down before I forget it. In this dream, we had just adopted a girl of about two (who did not seem to have a name in the dream), and in addition to that, we had our nephew Harrison staying with us for a period of time. We also seemed to have a new dog. Sounds like a heavy load, but I was feeling very calm and fulfilled in our life, and seemed to be in control. In the dream, I took Harrison and the little girl and our dogs into town to go to Whole Foods. It was a busy day at Whole Foods and I was juggling packages and lists and kids and dogs. As we were heading through checkout, I noticed that near the exit doors they had a little girl who was up for adoption - much the way you see an individual pet from a shelter on a “visit” at Petsm@rt (odd, I know - I’m not responsible for what my mind does at night!) They had her up on a wooden palate with an attendant and a sign saying she was adoptable, and people were sort of glancing at her uncomfortably as they passed, the way you look at a homeless person on the street.
I looked at this girl through the crowds of people - she was maybe ten or eleven, and you could see that she had been toughened by her experience. Her face was very hard and set and closed-off to what was going on. She had long white-blond hair in two braids and a Norwegian-looking face that was completely blank. I only glanced at her, but I knew I couldn't stand to see her on display like that, and I told the cashier that I would take her home for a trial. I didn’t even think about it. I just couldn’t stand to see her sitting there so stoic, amid all those indifferent people.
So I took the kids and the dogs and my packages and scooped up the little girl, whose name was “Sam” for Samantha, and off we went to the car.
On the way home I worried about what I was doing to our new daughter and to Harrison, whether they would be jealous, how they would manifest it, whether it was fair to add this girl to the mix. I also realized I hadn’t consulted Mike about this and wondered if he’d think I was crazy. But I figured everyone could deal with it for a few days.
For the next couple of days we all did things together, went to the park and to the playground, played with the dogs, went for walks. Harrison and Samantha (being closer in age than our smallest daughter) seemed to be getting along the best. They were wary, but I could see Harrison starting to admire her and court her favor. Sam was tough and a little gruff with all of us, but something about her thick-skinned nature, her streetwise-ness, really touched me deep inside and I could feel myself watching her and my heart going out to her.
When I would hold her, she would tolerate it, but she was definitely just “letting me”. She wouldn’t push me away, but she wouldn't reciprocate. But I felt something very strong toward her when I put my arms around her, that solid, sturdy little body, so tightly-wound, and you could feel the strictly-contolled emotions in her under the surface.
But Samantha had a special power, too, which manifested when she was particularly stressed or angry: she could become invisible and grow very small. On the last day that we had her, the stress was really building up in her, and she started acting out and getting very hostile with all of us, even with Harrison, with whom she’d become grudgingly affectionate. When we went to the park to play, she started vanishing, and I knew in my heart what she was going to do. Sure enough, she hid so that I couldn’t find her. I started to get desperate, and had the other kids helping me out in searching for her. It was getting late, and soon I even had the dogs sniffing around in case they could recognize her scent. From time to time I thought I almost had her, but then she would vanish again. At last, I just sat down on the ground and started calling her name over and over again, telling her it would be OK and that we could all go home and make something good for dinner. And I started bargaining with myself silently, the way you do. I told myself I didn’t want to take her back. I wanted this little girl. She was under my skin. Yes, she was older, she had some issues, she was going to be a tough nut to crack. But I knew that this girl was for me.
I thought, “We can’t do this. We cant’ adopt three children at once. There’s no way we can manage.” Then I remembered that Harrison wasn’t actually ours and would be going home to his family in a few weeks (somehow I’d forgotten he was only our nephew), and the world opened up for me again. Two we could manage. Two was OK! Two wasn’t insane. I could keep my Sam...if only I could convince her to let me find her again...