1) All eyes are on YOU.
When anyone brings a new baby home, everyone wants to catch a glimpse of this new precious life. Tiny little toes and fingers just cry out for squeezing! Little squishy cheeks and necks beg to be nestled and kissed! And we haven’t even mentioned the soft shiny hair! Everywhere I went with my new baby, people wanted to touch his long black hair (to be fair, it did resemble a mini Don King hairdo).
This experience was surprising to me. Yet what I found even more surprising is how people didn’t seem to stop watching my family. We are quite a phenomenal sight! But it is more than that. I have noticed over the years that people have a true curiosity about non-traditional families.
And if it is not the curiosity bug that gets people staring, it is witnessing and celebrating the miracles of LOVE. People in my world know our stories and they love watching to see how the rest of the journey is going to play out. Instead of being annoyed by others watching you, look at it as a great opportunity to educate with kindness. I embrace my opportunity to lead others into the new open world of adoption.
2) Caseworkers DON’T know everything.
I think of my adoption caseworker like a doctor. An OBGYN is trained and specialized in labor and delivery. Our adoption caseworkers are trained and specialize in getting birth mothers and adoptive couples through the adoption process. Once the adoption process was complete, I needed additional support better suited for supporting my new family and adoption relationships.
Eventually a new mother will transition from her OBGYN to a Family Practitioner. Then as she matures, she learns to study and research for herself when questions and concerns arise about her child. With practice she will learn to trust her intuition and know what is best for her child without having to consult a professional.
Birth mothers and adoptive mothers may have similar experiences in their transition from pre-placement to post-placement. In my own experience, at first I found myself turning to caseworkers to offer perspective and assistance post-placement. As we got further down the road and more mature in our adoption experiences, we found it helpful to seek new resources as well. I would ask for advice from those who had walked the adoption journey before me. I spent time online researching, attending adoption conferences and actively learning from others in my adoption community. Most importantly, I learned to trust my own intuition and wisdom with the help of God when it came to making decisions about my adopted child or adoption relationships. It has been a vital life lesson.
3) Love is NOT all you need.
I believe LOVE is THE most POWERFUL force in the entire universe. However, it is NOT all you need to create a healthy happy family. It is easy to think, in the early days of adoption (just like in the honeymoon stage of marriage), that everything will be fine if we love each other!
LOVE is essential! However, a long-lasting, loving marriage requires more. It requires skills, techniques, tools, training, support, and perhaps even medication (which sounds funny coming from me—the hippy alternative chick—but it is true!) from time to time. Birth parents and adoptive parents need similar skills techniques, tools, training, and support to create a healthy, loving relationship with their child and each other.
Love teaches us how to do everything better. Love will enhance our skills and training. Love will even help us reach for support when its needed. Love will lead us to gathering more tools each step of the way. With tools in our hands and love in our heart anything is possible!