When did you know that the child you adopted became your child? At the pre-adoption training they tell you it’s the Court Hearing that determines that. Wrong, for me it happened much earlier.

It was the first time I watched a short video of Ben filmed by his foster family that did it. Actually, it wasn’t the video either, it was hearing the sound of his voice. It didn’t amount to much more that random vowels, spoken with the high-pitched voice of a 5 months old, but it had a certain quality I couldn’t possibly put in words. It became immediately familiar, I could have recognised it in the midst of a million other sounds, and something in me already decided that that sound was the voice of my son.

I fell in love with that 30 seconds video. In it Ben is lying on his back on the seat of a sofa, quite happily at first. He then realises that for some reason he’d be much more comfortable on his belly; that’s when he decides to take things in his own hands. It must have been one of his first attempts, you could clearly tell he hadn’t master the skill of rolling on his tummy yet. He stretches all his little muscles, moving much more that strictly needed to get the job done. But at some point he’s nearly there, one last push in the right direction and it would be it, but then sadly, despite his best effort, he rolls back to his original position, and the video ends.

I must have watched the same video hundreds of times, and every time I hoped for a different result. After the first watch I clearly knew the story, all there was to know about it is what I described already, but that never prevented me from cheering for him, and hoping that – this one time – he would make it. Cheering for your child against all odds… is that a good analogy for parenting?

Anyway, that was it for me. But you shouldn’t assume that being a father came natural. On the contrary, I have to work really hard, learn so much about myself, and change even more.

You’d think that nearly 40 years is enough time to learn about yourself. That’s either not true, or I’m a particularly slow learner.

I thought of myself as being a calm and kind person, that’s one thing I’ve always liked about myself. Ben had me realise that I am not the level-headed person I once thought I was. Every time I raise my voice at him it’s like looking at myself in the mirror and not recognising who’s staring back at me. Disconcerting.

I’ve got another one. One of the things I liked the least about myself is that I’ve always been a little awkward around people who I don’t know well. It’s true, I’m not the kind of person who is immediately at ease with strangers, and I’ve been trying to improve in that sense all my life. I got better growing up, I got more confident, and I really thought the whole issue was pretty much sorted. Until Ben moved the post a mile away, and showed me how hopelessly awkward I can be around children.

It’s tough having to reevaluate nearly everything I know about myself. Ben showed me how much work I still have to do to become a decent dad, and God knows what else he has in store for the future.

I always thought of myself as being pretty clever, I’m sure that’s gonna change too the day Ben will ask: “Dad, why is it that sometimes it rains?”

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  1. Gem 23rd April 2016 Reply
    • Diego Boccaleone 23rd April 2016 Reply

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