We took our sons to a long-awaited day of appointments at a major university hospital (seven months long awaited). We brought our boys into the family knowing full well each had a multitude of challenges. We've had months and months to get to know their strengths and their quirks. So it came as little surprise to hear the diagnoses: One has full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The other has classic Autism.
After hours of examinations and tests, the nurse practitioner conferred with the doctors, then returned to us to share the news. Then, while my husband took one boy down the hall for further testing, she stuck around with me making conversation. After it became evident she wasn't going to rush off to see another patient, I realized her job was to help the parent process the devastating news.
Thing is, I didn't find the news surprising or devastating. I suppose things would be very different if I carried a child in my womb, expecting to bring a perfect baby into the world. Our path is different though. We had our perfect babies, then chose foster care because we were ready to take on children society left behind.
Still, the NP used some caring words that actually did cause me reflect and even shed some tears. She said it must be frightening to hear such serious diagnoses. No, I explained. "OK, so you knew they weren't headed for Harvard, but you had hope," she surmised.
"I still have hope," I shared, "but it's tempered with a dose of reality."
What I was feeling was anger. Anger at birthparents whose actions damaged these boys' brains. My boys. My sons.
I thought I had processed all those feelings.