Adoption is a beautiful, broken, exhilarating and exhausting ride. Adoption represents a huge chunk of my life for the past three years. A friend recently asked me what I've learned through adoption. As an adoptive parent, I get asked lots of questions about the process and how I feel about my adopted children from family, friends and strangers. I get questions from my kids about their adoption stories, their beginnings in life and their birth families.
When our daughter left for college instead of becoming empty nesters, we chose to expand ours. We adopted two children (two years apart) and embarked upon our new journey as adoptive parents. One thing that surprised me the most was being asked what I've learned through adoption. Surprisingly, it's something I rarely stop to think about….
The question of what the experience of adopting has taught me was something I'd never stopped to think about. I've been so caught up in the actual adoptions, the adjustments and plain old everyday mothering to reflect on what I've learned from the process. Adoption has taught me many things about motherhood, love and some surprising life lessons that don't have anything to do with adoption.
The Beauty of Patience:
I'm an instant-gratification, right now kinda girl. Adoption is all about waiting. And paperwork. And stress eating. I compare it to a very long, unpredictable pregnancy. I'm not saying adoption transformed me into an uber-patient person, but I've learned acceptance about waiting on things I can't control. Having less of a “has to happen yesterday” outlook has helped me become a better mom and a happier human.
Rock-my-socks-off capacity to love:
People sometimes ask me “Is adoption the same as having your own kids” or “Do you love them as much as your real kid?”
The short answer is yes. I try not to get wrapped around the semantics when people say stuff like this, but it's hard not to. My boys weren't born from my body, but they're my real kids and I feel real love. I love all of my children differently because they're are all different, but I have the same level of mom-love for each, adopted or not.
I thought I might feel a difference because of the absence of a biological connection. Yet, the love I feel for my sons overwhelms me daily. My love is real.
A Lesson in Diplomacy:
We field comments like “you should have adopted from your own country.” Theress the lady at Target who insists on asking about our kids' birth families. I've learned not to jump down people's throats for asking something they see as innocent, even when I think it's nosy. I've learned to guard my kidís privacy and interests but I don't let each and every thoughtless comment or ignorant person ruin my day. And, I've learned to tell people to button up with a smile. The more unique aspect of transracial adoption is that our racial differences expose our biological ones. Diplomacy has helped me avoid unnecessary confrontation. When I speak up, however, I am advocating for my sons and our family.
Have a friend, be a friend:
Adoption transformed my friendships. Other adoptive families and adoptees have become a rich part of my life. I'm a much better person for knowing some of these people. On the flip side, adoption has also brought about a season of pruning with some of my relationships. There was the natural attrition as our lifestyle shifted. All of a sudden, wine till midnight, sleep till ten morphed in to mac-n-cheese for dinner, bed by nine.
We also weeded out people who didn't support our adoption choices or people who wouldnít offer support, as our kids grow older. The guy who called our kids “Chink One and Chink Two” isn't someone that's going to enrich our kids' lives. Sure, people are going to make tacky comments but we can make choices not to deliberately put these kind of people in their paths.
Adoption touches every part of my life, every day. I'm constantly learning things about life, motherhood, myself and what's really important at the end of the day.