From the time I was a young girl, I remember having a few very specific experiences where a couple I knew wasn’t having babies after being married a while, and I was confused. There was an understanding that I shouldn’t ask questions that might make people uncomfortable, but I had no idea why. I wondered why people wouldn’t want children. I wondered how waiting to have children could appeal to anyone. I loved kids. As the youngest in a large family, I wished for younger siblings. I only ever wanted to grow up to be a mommy, and then it didn’t happen for me either. Only then, as an adult in the situation of unexpected difficulty growing a family, did I begin to understand. Over a decade later, I am still learning every day that struggling, whether in the adoption world or in another realm of life, teaches us to be more respectful and less judgmental of other people.
I remember sitting in a marriage enhancement class in college as a newlywed. We were talking briefly about couples’ family building choices being theirs alone, with God as the only appropriate third party. I commented that I used to be judgmental if people didn’t have babies when I thought they should. I gave a specific example and then explained that I had come to be much more understanding. I had recently learned I should not try to get pregnant because of heart problems I was born with. I also learned that most adoption agencies wouldn’t even talk to my husband and I until we had been married at least a couple of years. We found ourselves in what felt like a no man’s land. It was a very emotional, lonely time for me.
I received the news shortly after turning 21. I can think back and feel how I felt then. I remember the room we sat in that day and the chair I was in at the back of the room. I remember feeling like I truly was on the verge of a huge breakthrough, sharing my great understanding with my classmates. Now, I look back realizing I had only just dipped my toe into the cool waters of the pool of understanding. I have come so far. I chuckle now, thinking about how much I thought I understood then. I imagine that in another 10-15 years I might look back on this post the same way. I am realizing that the older I get the less I know. Cliché, I know, but very true all the same.
The process of becoming a parent through adoption and foster care has been transformative. I have come in contact with so many wonderful people, all trying to figure out what life holds for them, on all sides of adoption. I have continued to feel like I am privy to some kind of understanding that not everyone has, but I am starting to figure out that everyone has their own struggles and is pulling their own bits of understanding out along the way.
What I want to share with you is that as I continue on in my life, I hope I will keep listening and learning. We have so much to teach one another. Sometimes the best lessons come with the least amount of words, but at the heart of it all, we are here to help each other along the way. So, in closing, I just want to share a few things on my mind that I am in the midst of learning. One of the lessons fresh for me at the present is that the less I worry about what others think about me, the happier I will be. Next, that comparison of emotions, whether fear, sorrow, sadness, joy, happiness or contentment, is worthless. We can’t really compare or rate our emotions in respect to another person’s. Third, we can all love a little better. I am working on loving better by trying to be a better listener and by being more empathetic.
In what ways are you gaining understanding on your path? How are you trying to be a little better as part of this community and toward people in your life as a whole?