5 Ways Adoption Has Made Our Lives Better
Throughout the holiday season, people are considering what family means to them. For me personally, the family that I was born into is less vast than the family I chose. Throughout my life, I have had countless aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and more than one or two moms and dads. It isn’t that the family I was born into is inadequate. It is simply that, for me, finding a bond with someone that wouldn’t have to be a part of my life can be so much more meaningful than the people that “have to” be my family. Adoption made my life better.
My children, especially, fall into this category. We were childless and could have remained so until the end of our days. We had the option to choose to adopt. I am so thankful. And yet, it makes me sad thinking about how my kids didn’t get to make that choice. They were asked, but when the options are “stay in foster care” or “get adopted” there usually isn’t much choice involved. That got me thinking about how everyone always tells us how lucky our kids are to be adopted by us. It simply isn’t true. We are the lucky ones and our lives have been better because of it.
1. I get to be a mom!
I am infertile. I never thought I’d get the chance to parent an infant. I got to have all the baby goodness: every giggle, first step, first word, and first food. They were all ours. I had hardly hoped to dream I would get to parent such a precious little girl. She is a terror, but she is my terror and I am utterly besotted with her and her siblings.
2. We are more mindful of feelings.
My husband is an engineer. I love him. I am . . . not an engineer. I am a writer (and a mom, and a substitute teacher, and, these days, also my children’s personal taxi driver). My husband is many terrific things. He is blindingly brilliant. For over 20 years of marriage, he has had to deal with my roller coaster of emotions and I have had to deal with his stoicism. Enter the children—the emotionally and physically needy children whose whole world was upended when they were placed in foster care.
Suddenly, my stoic, unemotional, logical husband was experiencing both first- and second-hand emotions in a big way. We have all had to be more mindful of the way others are feeling—not out of fear, but out of consideration and love for the people around us. I never demanded that my husband get all worked up if I was all worked up. The kids have a tendency to drag us into their tempest if we aren’t being careful.
3. I have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
Friends, while 2020 was a drag for everyone, it was particularly onerous for our family. I won’t go into the details, but I will tell you I was diagnosed with situational and chronic depression that year. There are days I want to stay in bed and not move. My people though? They need me. They need help with school, and getting food, and 1,000 other things. I’m not saying they cured my depression. That is far from the truth. But they do give me a good reason to fight against my internal monsters instead of giving in to the pain.
4. I am learning so much.
I was a good student. I was an A student for most of my years in school. And yet, nearly every day when my kids come home from school, I’m routinely floored by the things they tell me they learned at school. Legitimately. I am getting better at math and science because I have to help them understand. I never thought I would be giddy to hear what my first grader told me about their science class, but here we are. She knows I’m interested in marine biology, so she makes a point to learn things about marine life that she can share with me.
I have needed to learn how to interact with other people well. I am painfully shy sometimes. I am introverted to the extreme and very adverse to interacting with people I don’t know. My kids are all extroverted, friendly, and talkative. I would say that is my worst nightmare, but actually, it has been amazing. They introduce me to their friend’s parents, and then—boom, I am having a conversation with an actual adult person. It’s wild. Do I always love these interactions? Oh no. But do I learn things, and is it valuable? Absolutely yes.
5. I am significantly more sympathetic to people in hard places.
When we started learning to be foster parents, I had a very hard-line attitude about my misconceptions of the stereotyped parent whose child is placed in foster care. I thought they deserved to never see their kids again, to get locked in jail and have the key thrown away. And then, I started learning about generational cycles of bad habits. I learned how if a person was abused it is more likely that they will abuse others. So many of the kids’ biological parents were abused as little kids. And they were abused because their parents were abused. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to break. We get to be the ones to break that cycle by offering help to both biological families and our adopted children. We are much less judgmental about other parents than we used to be. I understand more now. I still don’t like it, but I have learned to love difficult people because my kids love them. And sometimes, I’m the difficult person in the situation.
Yes, I love being their mom. But no, they aren’t lucky. We were, at best, option number three under biological parents parenting and biological family parenting. They were in no way lucky to be born into a situation that had circumstances involved that made adoption an okay choice. It is a difficult line to walk. Am I thankful for my kids? Absolutely. Do I wish that they hadn’t needed me? Also absolutely. So, with that in mind, I’m flipping the script. I could list so many more reasons adoption has made out lives better. My kids make my life funnier, more entertaining, fuller of joy, and very exciting–it’s better. I love them so much.