Late last night (as I was flipping through Facebook, unable to sleep) I came across a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Jen Hatmaker. She is the mom of two child who were adopted and has penned some amazing, insightful and heartfelt posts about what it all means to her and her family. The post that caught my eye was entitled After the Airport which describes the time after the adoption frenzy and excitement wears off and reality sets in. This line in particular caught my eye:
"You cannot just be into adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting."
I knew that before deciding to adopt. I truly did. I mean, as much as I could know and understand that without having never gone through the adoption process or being a parent.
Looking back now on the time prior to adoption and our life now with an 18 month old, I realize it's a lot like swimming if you've never done it before. You read about, you see other people do it, and you figure you could give it a try. So you get as prepared as you possibly can, maybe take some classes, and then you put on your swim suit and dive in. That's what adoption is. You dive in. Head first. You are fully committed, whether you were ready or not. Immediately there is a sense of stillness, calmness and almost peacefulness. It's quite and it's beautiful, if you allow yourself to open your eyes. The water feels amazing and you wish you could stay in that moment forever. Like those moments cuddling your new baby while surrounded by loving and supportive friends who have been with you through the whole process.
Then like an electric shock, panic hits you. You are underwater and you forget what to do. You know you need to get to the surface but you don't know how. Those moments of panic when there's a glitch with the legal paperwork. Or a birth parent contacts you unexpectedly. Or you are just overwhelmed with all of it, adjusting to becoming a family overnight. Finally, your brain processes what is happening, you kick your way upwards and taken in a huge and wonderful breath of air.
You look around and seeing nothing but blue water for miles and decide to start swimming. You try some different strokes until you find one that works best for you. Like parenting, trial and error until you hit a groove. The more you swim, the better you feel. You start to feel more confident and enjoy yourself more. Sure, there are times when you get a side cramp or get tired. But you adjust, maybe even floating for a minute to rest, and continue on your journey.
Like swimming, we have to be into adoption and parenting. And by being in it, I mean a full commitment. 100%. Clear blue skies or category 4 hurricanes, we committed. When times do get tough (and they will) find someone or something to hold on to when things get rocky: a supportive spouse, caring friends, other families who have adopted. Then just keep swimming and be what you were created to be: an amazing parent.