I remember when we first started the adoption process. I looked at the mound of paperwork with both excitement and dread. It just seemed so daunting for many different reasons. Emotionally and financially I remember questioning many times — are we REALLY ready for this? I remember feeling so ready to become a mother and for my husband and I to to build our family. But were we REALLY ready for this? We were! So ready! I will say though that there were things that came along with our adoptions were things we weren’t really prepared for. Adoption has changed us for sure — and I’d like to think for the better.
What’s Changed and What Has Adoption Taught me?
Adoption isn’t always Happy
Before our adoptions I didn’t fully understand the emotions that came along with it. I was a young woman who wanted to grow her family. Adoption is happy right? I mean you get to go through this amazing process and in the end you hold a little baby! Not so much. Adoption is hard. It is draining and emotionally it was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I was so sad going through the last stages of our adoption with our son. My heart broke for his birth mother whom I had grown to love. We had formed a relationship that I didn’t know was possible. She loved him so much, and I was the woman she chose for him to call mom. How amazing is that? But how sad I was for her. I had no idea those emotions were possible and I truly wasn’t prepared for them. I know I went through my own version of postpartum depression.
Adoption Taught Me Patience
We live in a world where whatever we want, we can have. We are accustomed to instant gratification. The store is out of our favorite pair of jeans? No matter. Amazon Prime can have it to me tomorrow. Want to watch a movie? I have access to numerous sites and subscriptions to make it happen. Adoption, on the other hand, is not a quick process. It’s months and months of paperwork and it can be years of waiting after that paperwork is done! Patience isn’t a virtue I’m proud to say I have a lot of, but when you are at the mercy of a woman to make a life changing decision for her and her child, you are forced to develop more patience than you ever thought possible.
Adoption Gave me A New Family
I don’t mean that in the literal sense of adopting children gave me a growing family. I mean that it gave me a new personal and professional family. I have met amazing and wonderful people on this journey — people that I would never have been blessed to call friends had I not gone through this experience myself. Professionally, it has opened doors for me to tell my story and be a voice to adoptive families — to explain the process and to show people that adoption isn’t such a big scary world of unknowns. Instead it is a big amazing world of (more than anything) love! Sure it has scary aspects, but in my opinion love trumps all of that.
Foster Care is Tough Path
When we started the adoption journey we had always said we could NEVER do foster care. Well, never say never. We adopted our daughter from foster care and are now active licensed foster parents. But foster care is a tough path to walk. Rewarding? Absolutely. Difficult? Most definitely. Would I ever turn back? Not in a million years. I would say to open your heart and mind to that possibility. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Making an impact on one child for even a short amount of time could be life changing for that child. I’m not trying to sound cliche in saying that. It is the honest-to-goodness truth.
Your Friends Change
I think there are seasons in one’s life. And every season brings upon change. We don’t have the same friends we had when we started this journey years ago. Sure, we have some constants, but ultimately, we realized our priorities are different now. For us, it’s not just about parenting, and having different priorities that way, it’s about acceptance, understanding, and unconditional love. You would be surprised the things we heard when adopted our son. All of a sudden we went from a middle class white couple in rural Midwest to a multiracial family. Surprisingly, we know people who struggled with that. We had people tell us it wasn’t a good idea to adopt an African American child and that mixing races in a family is never a good idea. We were asked if we were sure because he was going to be black, and we weren’t! (Like we hadn’t noticed!) Suddenly, we realized our priorities in friends changed. We surround ourselves by people who love our kids, love our foster kids, encourage us, support us and walk the journey with us. It’s not always an easy journey, but knowing we don’t walk it alone makes it much easier.
As a Couple We Changed
I can say hands down we are stronger today than we were before we started this process. It has taught us so much about ourselves individually and as a couple! We had no idea the path God would choose for us when it came time to building our family. When we were placed with this path in front of us it would have been very easy to say no and to choose another. But together we walked it, got through the mud, the deep waters, walked the valleys, and climbed the mountains together. We came out at the end stronger than ever before.
Looking back, adoption has affected every single aspect of my life. Every single one. It’s been amazing yes, but it changes you in ways you didn’t know were possible when you are going through the process. Sometimes you walk through blindly and wonder if this will ever end. Other times you blink and suddenly you are in court finalizing the adoptions and your children have a new last name. It’s an amazingly difficult, fun, sad, emotionally draining journey to be on, and honestly I’m so excited for the next one! Our family isn’t complete and we know that. We anxiously await for the next path to be put in front of us.