I really thought that when our home study was complete, we were on our way to building our family, that our baby would come, and he would be ours. The adoption would simply be the vehicle used to get him to us. That is what I thought. I suppose it is a glorified, naivety about adoption that at some point it won’t matter and it will be in the past. I thought it was something that we did and it’s done. Newsflash! Adoption and family building is a life-long conversation. Just ask anyone who has had natural child birth (they will tell you all about it.) The way you choose to build your family will forever impact you. It changes your identity.

1. We need to educate and empower women and girls to live their best lives possible. Adoption opened my eyes. I realized that this world is larger than myself and my wants, not in the way you may be thinking, but in the fact that every day, women are getting pregnant and are evaluating their lives, realizing they cannot parent. These amazing women are mature enough and brave enough to look at the situation they are living in honestly and without ego. How scary is that? I cannot imagine. How terrifying that has to be to be pregnant and not be able to parent and to know it. Then, to go about the task of figuring out how to respond to the situation.

The women I have spoken with who are in this spot are – bottom line – phenomenal human beings, whether they choose to parent or not. I am always blown away by the courage it takes to reach out to a stranger and say, “Hey, I’m  in a pinch here. Can we explore you possibly parenting my child?”  Women who create adoption plans are hero moms. Women who consider it are hero moms too.

When I began my adoption journey, it was about my need to love my child. I had no idea how passionately I would feel about respecting the rights of women who are in the crisis of their lives.  As a society, we have to do better for our women and children.

2. Children deserve unconditional love forever. I thought I wanted to be a mother more than anyone in the world. I thought that I had stretched and grew myself into the best mother I could be. I thought I understood how hard the journey to parenting can be… until I went to my first foster parent support group.

Foster care is new to me. Older child adoption is new to me. I have never in my life sat with better parents than I did in that meeting. These people are loving, caring, and providing stability to children who need them. They are respectful, honorable, and providing an opportunity for parents who need help to get it. Foster parents see the pain in their communities firsthand. They then respond with love at the cost to their own hearts. Foster parents are doing the hard work of loving children selflessly because that’s what children need.

3. I found the courage to change the world. I heard somewhere that your journey is not your own. I never understood what that meant. I really thought it didn’t apply to me. At the time, it probably didn’t. My journey to building my family has been challenging. It is still challenging. I’m not sure what rude comment or battery of questions lead me to want to do something about it, but without adoption, I would never have found my voice.

Every time I get hit with rude inconsiderate adoption questions, I think about my son. If I as an adult cannot figure out how to handle the way the world reacts to us as a family, how can I empower him to handle it? It is my dream that no family built through adoption ever feel less than a family. Adoption has been around since the beginning of time. I am working to make it part of the conversation so my children don’t have to have that responsibility.

Way, way back, when I dreamed of beautiful biological babies easily conceived, I didn’t realize how profound choosing to parent would be. I had no idea the love and fierce connection that a family creates.  If my family came to me easy, I wouldn’t understand how precious this life is and how amazing people are. I would never understand the earth-shattering ways that everyday people become extraordinary. No one wants to experience hardship, but the harder you work for something, the sweeter the reward.

Adoption made me a mother. Adoption has opened my eyes to the world around me.  Has your life been touched by adoption? How has it changed who you are?