I planned to write a nice, non-emotional post sharing information about a big (as in, ginormous) decision that Charlie and I are in the process of making. I planned to calmly ask for your prayers and hopefully gain some insight from any of you who have made similar decisions. However, as usual, things aren’t going the way I planned.
Instead, I’m going to have to share some rather frustrated, furiou– I mean, “spirited” thoughts about the reactions and comments we received when we shared this decision with some people in our lives. I literally have to….or the feelings will continue to swirl through my body in a fuming rage and fly out of my fingers in jagged lighting bolts. I really don’t have time for that kind of ugly in my week, so….
The GINORMOUS Decision
Our agency contacted us recently with the possible opportunity to adopt a six-year-old girl that we’ll call S.
In case you’re wondering, that would bring our kid total to 4….in less than two years. We weren’t seeking another child at this exact moment, and a six-year-old certainly doesn’t fit into the plan we had for the next few years. However, God continues to show us that our plans are generally ridiculous and a waste of time while His plans are more wonderful than we can imagine. Yeah, it seems a little crazy. But adoption seems crazy to some. Ian and Herdest seem crazy to others. But I love my beautiful family, and I’m beginning to trust “crazy” more than the sensible, orderly plans lives typically follow. I mean, check us out. I finally coordinated all our schedules for some updated family photos, and I LOVE them. (Thanks Sacred Moments!)
So, instead of completely dismissing the idea, we’ve committed to prayerfully consider this child as a real possibility for our family. We are praying for God’s clear will….as in a FLASHING NEON SIGN. (If you see one, please let me know immediately.) Nothing is decided at the moment. We still need a lot of details from the agency and ample counseling before we make a final decision. There are a million things to consider (time, stress, Ellie, Herdest, Ian, attachment disorders, schools, schedules, new birth family relationships, where the heck will I put another kid?, etc.), and it may turn out that we’re not the best option for her. But we’ve decided to be open to following where God leads.
REACTIONS FROM PEOPLE I HAVE TO SAY LOTS OF PRAYERS TO KEEP FROM SMASHING LIKE THE HULK!
So, in the process of talking through our thoughts, we’ve decided to slowly share this decision with family and friends. Most have been supportive, some respectfully concerned, and others entirely enthusiastic while offering to play Polly Pockets with the new addition.
However…recently, we shared the information with some people who responded as follows:
1. Complete and total silence. Then, “So, are you infertile? You’re not going to to try in-vitro or something?”
Dude. First of all….rude! Second, I have more than few blog posts about this subject. I’ve discussed it with you before; after a miscarriage, 4 IUIs, and a few rounds of Clomid, it’s not a big secret. We planned to adopt before the infertility, and our timeline changed. Now, we know with certainty that adoption is how God plans for us to build our family. Sure, I’ll have a sad moment wondering what it would feel like to be pregnant now and then, but I honestly never wonder about having a “natural” child. Your facial expressions, tone, and similar comments suggest disappointment–that I should still be seeking to have a “real” baby. My adopted daughter is right over there. See her?! She’s amazing. I NEVER want her to feel that she is somehow secondary. She should never feel like she’s a backup plan to the baby we “really” wanted. She is more than I ever dreamed; more than I deserve. If your comments make me angry, how do you think they might affect her one day? I will go all MAMA-BEAR INSANO NINJA before I let you make her feel less than fabulous, so choose your words carefully if you want to be part of her life.
2. “Why an older child? I mean, what’s the, I hate to say this...inventory on babies? Can you not get a baby?”
Yup. You read that right. Inventory. Because babies are obviously a commodity to be priced, shelved, and sold to the highest bidder. Word of advice: if you have to preface something with, “I hate to say this…” then you should probably just keep quiet. Could we adopt another baby? Probably. But over the past year, as we’ve learned more and more about various aspects of adoption, we’ve become convicted that God wants us to meet a need. The AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Report) of 2010, reports approximately 408, 425 children in the U.S. foster care system. According to AdoptUSKids, more than 20,000 children age out of the foster care system each year without being adopted, and there are 107,000 children currently available for adoption. Why an older child? Because instead of sitting around with idle words of “Oh, this is so sad,” we can take action and be part of a solution. Because we can. Because she needs us.
3. Two children is a lot of work! A six-year-old is so much harder. (Insert self-righteous tone, mocking chuckle, and eye-rolling.) You should go in order and have another baby first.
I’m not saying that we never want another baby. Mothering a tiny little person is a magical thing, and I’d like to experience it again some day, but it occurred to us from a logistics standpoint, that adding an older child might actually be more feasible right now than adding another baby. I can have two in diapers, strollers, and high chairs that require full attention while bathing, dressing, eating, etc. or I can have one toddler and one child who is old enough to communicate her needs, brush her own teeth, and hopefully, will be content to watch Finding Nemo while I cook dinner rather than hanging on my knee.
Please understand, we’re not under any grand illusions that this will be easy. We’re aware that two small children will be a lot of work. We’re aware that six-year-olds have their own unique needs, demands, and developmental challenges. I’m around several six and seven-year-olds at the community center where I volunteer for several hours a week, and I’ve seen how they can transition from perfectly helpful little angels to uncommunicative, stubborn, mess-making terrors in fractions of a second. No doubt, if we decide to parent this child, we’ll be doing TONS of reading and seeking advice from every source we can find. We’ll enroll in family counseling to help S. with the transition and help us fast-track some advanced parenting skills. We’ll be a mess for awhile, I’m sure, but I haven’t met the couple yet that didn’t experience a few bumps in adding a new family member.
So yeah, two children is a lot of work, but that doesn’t stop people from having more than one biological child. Would you be saying the same thing if I’d announced I were pregnant? And maybe the out-of-order thing isn’t typical, but sometimes, doing things just like everyone else isn’t necessarily the only or best way to go about something.
4. Can your marriage handle this? I mean, I was really disappointed when you went to marriage counseling.
Disappointed? I’m sorry; I think I misheard you. Did you mean concerned, perhaps? Or proud? Because counseling means we were actively trying to improve something rather than living in pretend, pretty unicorn land and faking perfection. To all those married people who have ever been to counseling to work on your perfectly imperfect marriages: I’m PROUD of you! Congratulations for doing the work to have a healthy relationship. Kudos to you for not ignoring problems until they drive you irrevocably apart. You are normal, and you are awesome!
I wrote HERE before about the time a year or so ago that we decided to do marriage counseling for a few months. Years ago, I would have felt ashamed or embarrassed to tell you about that part of our lives. Now, I couldn’t care less who knows. We go to counseling occasionally. Every now and then…it’s our thing. We’re both passionate, highly-opinionated people, and sometimes, we like an objective listener in problem-solving. We like talking over big decisions such as adoption, building a home, etc. with someone to help us stay focused on communication rather than our own emotions. We’ll probably go to counseling many more times over the years, and contrary to your apparent views, I believe that instead of showing our weakness, it testifies to the strength of our commitment.
5. Can you handle this? (As in, me, personally) I mean…all the cleaning and cooking (insert insinuating tone and eyebrow raise to suggest I don’t handle these things all that well)…I mean, you get stressed out. Based on Experience A, I’m not sure you can handle two….
Oh. no. you . didn’t. I can take a lot of crap, but when you start insulting my parenting skills, you’d better be ready.
Experience A involved caring for another toddler who is approximately seven months older than Ellie for a day or so. Adding little dude, with no forewarning or opportunity to childproof before his arrival, was a bit hectic. I also managed fine to keep them both happy, healthy, well-fed, and moderately clean…so whatever. I don’t really think it’s an apt comparison.
Yes, I do struggle with stress. It’s something God and I work on daily. And you’re right; I hate cleaning house and probably always will. I’m not a super-fan of cooking either. I’m not perfect in any way….but here’s the deal: Nobody is perfect. Fortunately, perfection isn’t a requirement for being an awesome mom.
To answer the question popular on sensationalized magazine covers lately, “Heck yeah. I’m enough.” Even you cannot help but notice and comment on her intelligence, curiosity, and completely comical embrace of life. Guess what? I’m part of that. I may be impatient sometimes. I may get exasperated, frustrated, and exhausted. But she knows without a doubt that I love her. She knows that I will squeal and do a dance when she “tickles” my knees. She knows that I will never fail to plop into the floor and read her whatever book she’s dragging around. She knows there is safety and comfort in my arms, and when she’s hurt or scared, it’s me she wants. Because while I’m not perfect, I am pretty darn good at being Mama.
If we adopt another child, the baseboards will get really dusty (whatever. you know I don’t clean them now anyway.) and you’ll be able to knit a rug from the dog hair accumulated on the carpet. So what. If we adopt another child, we might very well live on Subway and Cheerios for a few months if I need a break from meal-planning. Who cares? And if we adopt another child, I may get really, super stressed out….in which case I will go get a massage while S. and Ellie chill with Nana one day or hire someone to clean my house or eat a Hershey bar or take up aerobics (by which I mean talking about aerobics while sipping a little red vino with a friend on the back patio) or turn up the music really loud and dance with all the kiddos to “That’s Amore” while making our own pizzas or ….I don’t know…maybe, stay up late to write a blog post about people that say ridiculous things.
It’s working so far.