I’m excited to welcome my friend, Elizabeth Rains, to be my first guest blogger! Elizabeth was adopted as a child from South Korea, so I’m thrilled to have her point of view as an adult adoptee. She’s also an Army wife, step-mom, certified counselor, and seminary student. I hope you embrace her message!
Whether they grow under our hearts or in them, children have a peculiar way of causing our minds to bear hopes and dreams for them and their futures long before they are grainy ultrasounds or case file photos. We wonder what their personalities will be like, what interests they will develop. We agonize over names—how can we get our partners to see that the names we’ve picked really are the best and most obvious choices?
When they become ours by plane or legal agreement, we wonder what sort of traumas and hardships they’ve experienced. How will their adoptions impact their futures? Their self-concepts? When will they start asking questions? When is the right time to tell them how they became part of the family? Do we still have relationships with the biological family? How do we maintain them? Do we try to find them?
Or perhaps we downplay it—if we never bring it up, then perhaps it won’t ever be an issue. They will never ask. They will adjust well. They will always be ours and only ours.
All of the textbooks and classes and seminars in the world cannot answer each and every question, cannot address every nuance that is your child. (This can be simultaneously terrifying and relieving.) And if we spend too much time nervously waiting for the questions, carefully crafting the perfect answers to satisfy curious minds and reassure tender hearts that they are so loved and so wanted, then we miss the opportunities to love and cherish and experience the now.
Your child will never again be as young as she is this moment.
We cannot create perfect childhoods. We cannot create perfect experiences.
We can, however, choose how joyfully we want to press in and embrace the mess and imperfection that is life, whether it began planned or unplanned by the minds of man.
We can choose how tightly we want to hold our own anxieties about parenting, about being enough in our children’s eyes. In our own eyes. We can choose how rigidly to set the boundaries and expectations for our children’s lives.
If you spend your child’s first years anticipating the questions, then what happens when the questions go unasked? If you spend your child’s first years crafting all of the answers, then what message does that send to your child?
Anxiety: we can be eaten alive by it while our backs are turned and our gazes are transfixed on the little ones we worry about.
We can underestimate and overestimate the complexities that comprise our children, especially when adoption is woven into their stories.
This journey is imperfect and rough and exhilarating and rewarding and challenging and so much more. There is no doubt about that. No two are the same but no one is so far removed from the rest so as to make truth of the statement, “I am all alone and no one, no one understands.” We cannot understand another’s experience completely but we understand it even less if we are so wrapped up in our own desire for perfection and stability and everything that sets furthest from dysfunction.
You do not have all of the answers. No one does.
That is hard and scary. And it is ok. Press in. And breathe.
This post was shared in a link-up with other adoption triad blogs. Don’t miss these windows into the adoption experience.