"The Rocking Chair"

In this personal essay, one mother describes how important a white rocking chair became during her wait to adopt–and after she brought her son home.

Surviving the Wait to Adopt

“Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away / Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more.”

I’m singing to my four-year-old as we sit in the rocking chair, cuddled snugly side by side–he didn’t want to sit on my lap tonight. He is getting big, after all, I think, and I know my nights of rocking with him this way will pass more quickly than I can imagine. And so, as we sit and sing, I remember.

It’s just a simple rocking chair, wooden, painted white. My brother and sister-in-law passed it on to us–filled with all the love, cuddles, songs, and sleepless nights they shared with their own little girl and boy–after my husband, Mark, and I announced our decision to adopt. We took our hopes into our hands, painted the nursery, and set the chair in the place of honor, next to the crib. The only thing missing was, of course, the baby.

Each night, before I went to bed, I sat and rocked in the waiting nursery, thinking and dreaming. Who would our child be? A boy or a girl? A newborn? A toddler? And–most important–when would our child come to us?

There were nights when I felt discouraged, daunted by all the decisions and paperwork and hoops we had to go through, to achieve what so many others took for granted. One night the rocking chair was a place for tears, when we reached what seemed a dead end in our journey. Was there still a chance, was there still hope? I rocked for a long time that evening, my face in my hands, struggling to understand.

But we didn’t give up. We took another road and signed up for foster-to-adopt classes and threw ourselves into learning how to be parents to a child in the system who might need us. I began to feel real hope for the future–our dreams would come true, I would be a mother, I would rock a child in my arms some day, right here in this chair.

The miracle came true one January night. With hands and heart trembling, I sat in the rocking chair holding a beautiful six-week-old baby boy. He had big, expressive eyes, beautiful black hair, and skin the color of coffee with a generous dose of cream. As I sang to him and fed him that first bottle, I could hardly believe it was happening, that this wasnt just another night of dreaming in that chair.

Mark, too, took his turns at feedings and burpings and singing songs. I cherish a photograph of him in the rocking chair, looking worn out but absolutely blissful as he gives our baby a bottle.

Our tiny baby grew and changed. Day by day, night by night, cozily cuddled in that chair, he passed from infancy to babyhood (chewing on board books and anything else he could reach as we snuggled), from babyhood to toddlerhood (in love with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, beginning to say “I love you”).

Now I sit and rock my preschooler, who still seems little but is getting bigger every day. He can tell me which stories he wants to hear and which songs he wants to sing. Sometimes I tell him his adoption story. Some nights he sings to me, “It’s my night to put you to bed!”

I know that soon the white rocking chair will be outgrown. When we put it away, it will be a bittersweet moment. I hope that I never take for granted the sweet gift I’ve been given–the chance to be just another mother, rocking her child in a chair full of memories.

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