Wading in the Water {best laid plans}

IMG_2177We celebrated the little one’s first birthday today.  He had a good time seeing familiar faces, and squashing the bright orange and white icing between his stubby little fingers.  Grandmothers, a great-grandmother, a “Mamoo and Papa”, uncle and his birth mother were present to celebrate the first year of this sweet boy’s life.

I know that by honoring his birth mother, I honor this child.  I also know that loving him is loving her, and vice-versa.  I feel quite blessed to raise him, and to have an open relationship with his birth mother.  Truthfully, I’m honored that she trusts me enough to parent her son.  I’m not going to pretend for one minute what it’s like to be in her shoes, nor am I going to judge.  The important facts of the situation are that we all have a vested interest in the safety,well-being, and love of this little boy who is a gift to us all.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I tell people how many children I have. Three.  Three children.  I remember moments of anxiety while we were getting approved as foster parents as if they were yesterday…moments like this one

It was the mid-summer of 2006 when my husband and I had finished up our foster parent training classes and were waiting to become licensed as foster parents.  Earlier in the year I had met a little girl in a foster home and instantly fell in love with her.  She was a pixie of a girl with blonde wispy hair and big blue eyes.  I truly felt she was supposed to be mine.  She was the reason we sought to become foster parents.

Months passed by, and we were not approved yet.  In the meantime, the little girl that I swore was going to be my daughter went to live with another family so that she could become their daughter.  Our process to become a licensed foster home took longer because I had previously worked for the state, and I figured that they needed to make sure it was all on the “up and up” that we were approved as foster parents.

During that summer, I went to the lake to play on the water with my parents, cousin, and her young son.  As I swam away from the boat a bit, I looked back and watched my cousin interacting and swimming with her little boy.  The vision of this mother and son reminded me of what I was missing.  Before I knew it, I started sobbing.

I quickly turned myself around so that my cousin and dad could not see my tears.  I felt foolish, but could not stop.  I was floating in the middle of a lake having a full-blown, heart-wrenching breakdown.  The water usually gives me a peaceful sense of weightlessness, but not on that day.  The weight of my broken heart made it hard to keep myself above the water.  My mother saw what was happening, and made her way over to me.  I don’t remember if we really even exchanged words, but she knew why I was crying.

My best laid plans for that summer were to become a foster parent, accept placement of that little girl I fell in love with, and go about our merry way in becoming a family.  My plans fell through.  Just like the drop of my tears into the lake, my plans quickly dissipated into a vast sea of confusion.  I had no idea what was going to happen, and was tired of worrying about it.

After crying it out a bit, I pulled myself together, swam back to the boat, and put my sunglasses on so that my red eyes would not give away what just happened in the water. I put on that familiar mask of a smile that I’ve worn so well through the years.  I don’t think anyone except my mother knew that my heart broke apart a bit while wading in the water.

A few months later we were approved as a foster home and received a call about a baby boy who would become our first foster placement, and then our forever son.  A few years later, we would get a call about a baby girl who also became our forever daughter.  And now, seven years removed from that moment of despair in the lake, I watched with eyes of love as another little one dug his hands into his first birthday cake.

That moment of wading in the water plays in my mind quite often.  I remember the feelings I had, and the thought that my plans….my best laid plans….would never happen.  I think about my worry, about my struggle, and about the sorrow I once experienced.  If I could go back and swim alongside my broken self, I would say, “Don’t worry.  Don’t let your sorrow weigh you down.  Your best laid plans are nothing compared to His plans for your life.”  

Dear readers, If you find yourself wondering when or if you will become a mother, please do not give up hope.  You are not alone in this, even though it might feel like it.  Reach out to others who understand what it feels like to be walking in your shoes.  Be encouraged, and know that your Father in Heaven hears you.  He sees you, and He holds you.  Blessings – Caroline

Beauty in the Complexity

Here is another insight I’ve discovered since becoming a parent through adoption:

Adoption is extremely complex, but there is beauty in complexity.

The closer we got to our first adoption, I was so eager to “get it over with”.  I just wanted the judge’s gavel to fall and for our son to be declared ours.  I did not want anyone else to be in control of my son anymore.  I looked at that day with fantastic expectation and with the thought that it will all be so much easier after adoption than when we were fostering him.

Our daughter was placed with us a few months later and I was also looking forward to the day that we could adopt her.  Right after our daughter’s adoption, we closed our foster care license.  What I have realized through the years since then is that adoption continues to evolve as our children grow older.  The gavel may have fallen, and the “cases” may be closed, but our journey really has just begun.

We see the look of confusion at times when the children are talking about birth parents and why they do not have the same birth moms.  We watch our son stare at his baby pictures and ask a million questions about the baby that he was.  We overhear the kids talking in the back of the car or in their rooms about birth parents.  I even heard my daughter say that she wished I was her birth mommy.

My husband and I have late-night talks on the couch after the kids go to bed about how we should address specific issues and questions as they arise.  Our son usually has a rough couple of days after visiting our daughter’s sibling, who is also adopted, because he doesn’t quite understand how his sister could have a sister of her own.

I often watch the kids and wonder how much of their lives will be affected because of adoption.  Don’t misunderstand me.  There are incredible opportunities, safety, love, and stability that they have because of adoption, but, it would be amiss of me to assume that it is always going to be easy for them.

I worry at times that we are being too open in discussing it, or maybe not open enough.  I used to weep for my children because of the losses they have endured without even knowing it.  I have wished to be able to wipe the slate clean for them.  All of these things are issues that my child-bearing friends do not have to take into consideration when parenting.

The complexity of it all makes me appreciate the opportunity to talk with other adoptive families about their experiences, and to learn from each other.  I love the diversity of each family and the journeys that many have been on.  I also have come to realize that adoptive families are unique and special in so many ways.  Yes, there may be worrying, wondering, weeping, and wishing, but in these things there is great beauty.