The idea of “choosing your hard” is not new. We’ve heard it time and again on podcasts, in books, and on tv. It is a simple idea that life always has challenges—so choose your hard. Losing weight is hard, but being overweight is hard too. Health issues and paying for doctor visits are hard, but so are eating well and getting to the gym. Being married is hard, but being single is too. I have been married for a blessed ten years and there are some days when marriage is not the bliss I felt I was promised, but I wouldn’t trade it for singleness for one minute. When my husband and I hear dating horror stories and tales of embarrassment, we look at each other and thank God for marriage in thick or thin, and let me tell you we are not as thin as we were 10 years ago.
This all connects to parenthood and adoption as well. Adoption has aspects that are scary to many people. I have heard countless people say, “I could never do that.” The truth is that we are not special for becoming parents through adoption. We were blessed to bring home our sweet girl from India three years ago. We are also blessed to bring home her brother next month at the time I am writing this. We are not millionaires, we are not special, we are just normal people who chose a hard path that many do not ever walk. To me, life with our adopted children would be much harder than the sacrifices we have made to become their parents. Adoption is a difficult process and that is good.
No matter how parenthood finds you, there is pain and there is hard. Pregnancy is one hard path that I have not had to travel down. I am a mom through adoption, and while it is difficult in other ways, I never had to give up my body to grow a child. Stepparents have a different set of challenges. They have many of the responsibilities of a parent, but may not have full custody or authority of their children. Co-parenting is hard, but not allowing a child to see a parent after a divorce can be devastating for a child. What I am getting at is it is all hard. Even if you have a perfectly planned pregnancy that had zero complications, the birth is what I imagine would be the most painful experience on the planet. A child you raise will most likely disrespect you and talk back to you after you spent their entire life giving up your money, sleep, and more to care for them.
Parenting is hard. Loneliness in middle age can be hard as well when friends are celebrating graduations and grandbabies and the childless person is planning another trip to Europe. Maybe that is the hard some want, but the point is there is always a hard.
We chose adoption. Many families find adoption after infertility and failed rounds of IVF or other methods of creating a family. That is just not our story. We always wanted to adopt and give a child a family. There were so many children without parents and we wanted to build our family that way. Adoption was always our plan A for having a family.
We had no idea how hard the process would be. It took years and we had to go through multiple agencies and governments to make it happen. There were many points in the journey when it would have been much easier to give up. People couldn’t understand why we would spend thousands of dollars and much of our free time doing paperwork when there are easier ways to make a baby. I laugh now that someone actually made that joke to us during our adoption journey.
Nothing worthwhile will be easy. I was the second person in my entire extended family to graduate from a University. I was incredibly proud and it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I had many health issues and even my cancer-surviving advisor suggested I take a medical leave from school. I knew if I took a break I would never come back so I pushed and took small steps and I leaned on my husband and friends and my church and I graduated. It was hard. I choose that hard because trying to find the career I wanted without a degree was impossible.
So every day, I get up and I choose my hard. It is difficult for me to wake up before my daughter, but if I don’t, my morning will be a messy, stressful, waking nightmare. I painfully turn off the alarm clock at 6 am and push myself out of a warm bed to face my day with grit and determination.
Yes, life is hard, but it is also beautiful. The mountain with the hardest climb has the most stunning views. The mile that was hard to run turns into the 10k that brings you joy for years when you think back on what you were able to accomplish. I have many friends that have chosen not to have children and I am afraid it is because they grew up hearing how hard it is, and not how wonderful it is as well. The internet is full of articles bashing parenthood and encouraging people to have fewer kids and wait longer before having them. I encourage people to see all sides of the coin. Do not give up on parenthood because you have been told it is soul-sucking—it is also life-giving. And young parents could do a better job of sharing the joys as well as the challenges. Negative posts seem to get more attention, but there is so much joy to share as well.
The grass is not always greener on the other side. We chose adoption for our family despite so much opposition. There have been hard times, but the blessing outweighs any trial we have ever come through as a family. I would give anything for my baby—my entire soul. Despite all this, one thing that has never been hard as a parent has been loving my child with all my heart.
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