The baby we adopted when she was six days old turned eleven this week. ELEVEN. She got her first pair of pumps. She wore her first pair of pumps to walk a dog and ride a scooter. She scuffed her first pair of pumps. Sunrise, sunset. Naturally, I am feeling nostalgic for those days when she was tiny and my house was clean and I could poop in private, but looking back I realized just how different our family is now than I thought we would be.
Back then we thought (because we were told) that I was infertile, and that adoption was our best chance to have a family. Now, I get pregnant every other year no matter what I try. We thought that a large family was beyond our reach, now we know that driving a compact car is beyond our reach. Truly, God laughs when you tell Him your plans. But you know who else should laugh? The sweet birth mothers and birth fathers who get to read the letters and forms that all of us clueless hopeful adoptive parents send to them. Don’t believe me? Here are parts from our letter from 2003:
- The “getting to know us” part. I barely recognize those people we described in adorable Comic Sans. I described my husband as “outdoorsy” and talked about his love of mountain biking. We sold that mountain bike when the Army moved us to a place without mountains and the only bikes he rides now are stationary. He talks about how I scrapbook. The last time I scrapbooked was before my daughter could crawl. Eleven years ago. We “loved” to vacation at Disney! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! What a bunch of dummies.
- “Jen will probably stay home while our family is young, but will go back to teaching when they are in school.” You know what I’m doing when the kids are all in school? NOT GOING TO THEIR SCHOOL TO TEACH OTHER KIDS. Netflix and naps, y’all. Netflix. And. Naps.
- “Jen is starting her own business!” I literally have no idea what this is referring to.
- “Dad will always speak Spanish to the kids, so they will grow up bilingual!” That worked for one year. Until Dad deployed for two years and came back, said “Hola mija! Como estas?” and my preschool daughter looked at him and replied “Haka haka what? I want a cookie.” As a consolation prize, they are all picking up curse words really well and speak fluent Uncle Grandpa.
- “Teaching a child is the best way to discipline them” And by teaching them, we CLEARLY meant “watching Dora and seeing her tell Boots not to touch the hot stove.”
- “Modesty is important to us!” MY CHILDREN ARE NUDE AS WE SPEAK.
- “We want our kids to be able to play an instrument!” Is there an episode of Dora for that? Does the six weeks that they bring home recorders from school count?
- “We will always have a dog (or two!)” If it didn’t come out of my womb I am not picking up its poop. Go play with grandma’s dog.
- “We will always attend church!” Except for when someone has pink eye, a runny nose, scabies, an ear infection, scurvy, the black plague, or Mommy forgot to wash her own clothes.
- “We look forward to exchanging letters and pictures with our child’s birth family!” This one is my favorite, because, while we do exchange an occasional letter, mostly we chat and text and Skype and visit and go on trips and spend the night and hang out together. Open adoption is pretty rad.
Eleven years ago I had no idea how much my life was going to change. I thought I knew everything. I thought it would all work according to plan. And, basically, one percent of it did. I am so glad that I have the chance to be the kind of mother I never thought I would be—and that Dora the Explorer is so smart.
What about you? How is your life different than you swore it would be? Are you actually the family you described in your Dear Birth Parents letter? Let me know in the comments!
Ready to write a “Dear Expectant Parent Letter” that will give you a good chuckle in a decade? Click here to connect with an experienced adoption professional who can get you started down the path of domestic infant adoption.