Sasmita and I will be parents in early June of 2016! We are excited, but not ready to be parents. Then again, who is?
We told my parents during Thanksgiving and called her folks in India, via Skype shortly afterwards, sharing our happy news across the globe.
As I contemplate Fatherhood, thoughts of my own beginnings are surfacing more than usual.
Our child will be the first person I know personally with whom I share DNA and blood. Sasmita will give birth to my first biological connection in nearly 36 years.
A few weeks ago we were in the hospital, explaining our respective medical histories to a nurse. She kept asking us pointed questions about each of our family’s health. It was funny, because Sasmita kept answering questions about possible medical complications from my family. I gently reminded her, that my parents are not biologically connected to me, nor are my sister or brother and any issues they may have cannot affect our baby.
I felt strange repeating those words, because for me, I do not think of them as ‘not’ biological, they are my brother, sister, Mom and Dad, but DNA-wise, they are not and never have been ‘blood relations.’ Any similarities between them and me are merely due to nurture and proximity, but not nature.
I watched as the nurse drew two boxes with our names inside on a blank page. Then she began connecting lines to family nouns from the box labeled Sasmita, listing out health problems of her near and distant relatives.
Conversely, the look of the box with my name never changed and no names or relations were added. The nurse eventually wrote ‘adopted’ next to my name outside of the box. I almost became an after-thought medically, because there was no ‘family’ to discuss. Our future children will never have this problem.
It was a strange feeling, seeing the word ‘adopted ‘on the page. It looked, clinical, cold, detached, but it was reality. My unease was not merely a case of seeing the word ‘adopted’ in print. No, instead it was the fact that nearly every time I watch the word itself being written, I am writing it, knowing its meaning to me and the history behind using it as an adjective to describe myself.
The nurse on the other hand, jotted ‘adopted’ down, almost a forethought for her and rightfully so. For me it is a segment of my identity. For her, it was just another way to describe one of the myriad future dad’s she sees daily.
We decided against finding out the baby’s gender. For Sasmita, the concept of knowing via ultrasound was a relatively new one since coming to America. In India, ultrasounds are illegal, because parents use them to discover if they are having a female child and then abort it immediately, for the mere fact that it is a girl.
Having a child together is a huge blessing for us, and we do not want to take away from the simple joy of being parents, by projecting feelings about having a boy or a girl beforehand.
In addition to the regular jitters of a new father, feelings completely normal and expected, I have the added layer of being adopted and what Fatherhood means in that context as well.