Fatherhood, Repeating: Hurry Up and Wait … for Baby!

“Fatherhood, Repeating,” a new series by Adam Mankoski, explores the journey he and his husband have taken to parent again after age 40 and navigate an adoption through foster care, while trying to douse the flames of mid-life crisis.

Parenting is my favorite job. But the road to having another baby has been curvy. My husband and I have hemmed and hawed, planned and reneged our plans. We thought we were through with kids.

Our daughter is 14, and at ages 41 and 46, we figured empty nesting, leisurely travel and the freedom to follow our passions was our destiny, not another round of teething, terrible 2’s (3 was worse), homework wars and teenage hormone imbalances.

But we couldn’t ignore the signs or our longing to care for another child together. We see happy parents with babies everywhere. Even the birds in the nest outside our kitchen window are peacefully co-parenting. So, after much back-and-forth, we decided that we want to, once again, be employed as full-time parents.

Private adoption, foreign adoption and surrogacy, the roads to families for many gay parents, were out for fiscal and logistical reasons, so we’re adopting through foster care (a topic for another post).

We trudged through 18-weeks of classes that instilled fears of pre-natal drug exposure, fetal alcohol syndrome and a bevy of other issues that we could only control if one of us had carried our child to term. Then a 3-week class that prepared us for an adopted child’s mental and emotional complexities, followed by enough home studies, fingerprinting, background screening and health checks to make us suspicious of one another.

We must have achieved FBI-level security clearance by now.

Every drawer and cupboard is battened down and safeguarded against marauding chemical-ingesting, knife-wielding toddlers. Our gender-neutral baby room, complete with yet un-named goldfish lays in wait. We stalk baby aisles, gushing over onesies and impossibly tiny shoes.

When we finally come together after my husband’s long work day, we mindlessly occupy our home time with “True Blood,” “Girls” and ” Abby. We stare at the TV screen, waiting for a “baby call,” the signal that our world is about to be, once again, joyfully upended.

After all of our training, I feel like we’re better prepared for a new bundle of joy than most first-time bio parents. Still, we wait with complete uncertainty for a child that we haven’t nurtured and fed in-utero for nine months. Essentially, we’ve prepared for an unknown child that doesn’t even know the sound of our voices. Waiting is agony, but I know that when the stork arrives, he will bring the child who was meant to be part of our family.

It was my dream to stay at home this time around, but being a stay-at-home dad to my pets is wearing thin. I’ve just about read every new age parenting strategy, tinkered in the garden, organized and re-organized our home, and mastered swaddling and “shushing” a doll. I’ve nested, painted or made color choices for every room and sold off all of my husband’s good stuff in a firestorm of yard sales, under the façade of preparing for our new family member.

And I should probably stop complaining about the stay-at-home parent isolation I’m feeling. I can, after all, still have an afternoon beer with my pals.

But soon I’ll hear cooing and crying, change diapers and give baby baths in the sink. Rationally, I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but I have time on my hands to think about the first crawl, the first walk, the first tooth, the first words and the first day of school. I want to show another small person what I love about the world, and I’ll gladly take the tantrums, night terrors and talking back.

Without question, those things are a fair exchange for life’s joys and triumphs and the privilege of light-handedly guiding a young person along their own path.

So, Children and Family Services, hear our pleas. My husband and I have done everything you’ve asked. It’s a simple request, really: Bring us a baby (or two). You’ll find us at home, pouring over paint swatches, watching TV and still second-guessing ourselves, waiting not-so-patiently for your “baby call.”

Adam Mankoski is a journalist and blogger living in Northern CA. Look for his parenting blog, “Double Daddy,” coming soon.

 

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is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.
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13 Responses

  1. Avatar cheryl says:

    This just brought tears to my eyes and memories of waiting for my own children to be born so many years ago. What a lucky child or children to come to this loving home in waiting. Families come in all colors, ages, genders and sizes but it truly only requires love and sacrifice to make them grow. I think your home will have an abundance of that.

    • Avatar Adam Mankoski says:

      Cheryl – Thanks for the support. We are very excited and do have love in abundance. Let's hope for patience and determination too!

  2. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Oh, you are soooo brave!!! It's going to take some tricky handling with a 14-year-old added to the mix and yes, you're going to find you don't have quite as much energy and/or patience this time around . . . but here's the trade off: you have the wisdom of experience on your side.

    Your children are, indeed, fortunate to be in your lives.

    • Avatar Adam Mankoski says:

      A – I actually have more patience than I did ten years ago. At least the same things that ruffled me, don't anymore. Thanks for reading and for your support!

  3. Avatar Scott says:

    With as many foster kids as we unfortunately have in this area, all of them desperate for home and family, I don't understand why you're being made to wait so long. Loving parents in a stable environment—and experienced ones at that—willing to take on the challenges of adopting such kids should be hot commodities, I'd think (and hope).

    As a stay-at-home dad who started a year after my now-twelve-year-old was born and then decided to keep the gig when my wife and I decided seven years ago to add just one more to the nest I do agree with the "older parent" sentiment. I'll turn 50 this year, and while my youngest helps keep me young, there's no denying that keeping up with her—physically and mentally—has been far more challenging than it was with my younger two, both born during my thirties.

    Good luck to you—and thank you for your candor. I hope there's not more going on here than meets the eye preventing you from fulfilling your dream. Loving parents are loving parents, plain and simple…

    • Avatar Adam Mankoski says:

      Scott – Great to hear from another Dad. Sounds like you have your hands full but are having a great time. We have nothing but good things to say about the foster care system, our social workers and our training. All positive. We're just waiting for the right match. Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Such an eloquent & loving account of your journey toward filling your family. No matter what the age of the children placed in your arms, this article will be fitting as page one of their "baby book": a life story with you as devoted parents.

    • Avatar Adam Mankoski says:

      Shelly – Made me cry. Thanks for your support. Looking forward to keeping readers posted.

  5. Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

    A wonderful co-worker, like you, wanted to have more children so strongly that she had her two daughters in her early forties. The first graduated from high school this year. She moaned that she'd be almost 60 when they graduated, but those kids have the strongest, youngest, most experienced mom around. Age is unimportant. What's important is the caring and love that your baby will receive. You can't fake that "maternal" feeling that is part of some of us to nurture and care and protect a baby. Lucky child!

  6. I've never seen two such prepared parents. Adam, I love overhearing you talking with young new parents as you give tips and suggestions about everything from colic and feeding to bumper pads and blankets. I wish I'd been that informed before I had my children.

    Adam and Troy, it will be one (two, three, four) lucky baby to win the life lottery and have you as parents. Thank you for including us on this journey. We look forward to your monthly posts.

  7. Love your story…and your hearts my friends! (And the nursery…too cute!)

    Unlike birthing…when you anticipate a "due date"…adoption doesn't come with a set time frame…so very frustrating and heart-twisting! The journey of adoption is often "hurry up and wait"….I don't understand why, but unfortunately, it is what it is.

    We were beyond thrilled the day we received the pictures of our beautiful daughters from Korea…and they were ready to come, but, there was a glitch on our government's side…and so it was wait, wait, wait…and more paperwork…and more bureaucracy! I can tell you, this Momma was on the phone contacting every official I could think of…and I wasn't real sweet about it!

    And then that beautiful day finally arrived when we met the plane and they were placed in our arms…JOY, OH JOY!! It was worth the wait!!

    Looking forward to YOUR DAY!! Thanks for sharing your journey. Hugs…

  8. Avatar Shannon says:

    My husband and his brother are both adopted and it took his parents almost 5 years to finally get a placement, then his brother came 17 months later. I thought waiting 9 months was hard, I cannot imagine the wonder and anticipation you guys are going through. You two have so much to give and I can't wait to see you become parents again. Whomever lands the gig as your kiddo(s) will strike gold.

  9. I love you both and anxiously await your baby call as well. I cannot wait to experience the joy that is sure to abound and I cannot imagine the longing that you feel as you wait.