As I look back on my life, there have been many times when I held onto someone or something much longer than I should have. For example, I can hold a grudge forever. It really doesn’t benefit anyone to hold a grudge. All it does is keep you from a relationship that you could be gaining from. Instead, you choose to keep your distance from this person who may or may not even know they have offended you. Holding a grudge only hurts you. Let it go and let it be.

Getting emotionally involved in someone’s life means that you are allowing them into your heart. That’s what we do. We crave relationships. We feel the need to have someone to share life with; to be our friend, to laugh with, to live with, and to love with. Relationships are essential to our being. Oftentimes, relationships end differently than we expect them to. People come into our lives in unexpected ways and how we react to each of those situations varies. 

When we decided to become foster parents, we knew it would be difficult. We knew it would involve the risk of falling in love over and over again only to have to say goodbye. We were willing to take that chance. Over the four years of foster care, we loved 34 different children. Even if it was just an overnight stay, we let them into our hearts and often had to let go much sooner than we were prepared for. We had to learn to let it go and let it be. Many times over the last 20 years, I have thought about each of those children. You never forget their faces. I am fortunate to know where a couple of them are, but I continually wonder about the others. I hope and pray that they have had good lives and are well and happy. I loved them for a short time and most of them will never even know that, but they were a special part of my life and my story.

We have been blessed with six beautiful children. They are all adults now from the ages of 19 to 40. Yes, it took us 21 years to complete our family. It wasn’t how we planned it, but that’s how it went. There were some difficult times during those years, but they brought us to where we are now. We have four biological children and two who are adopted. They are each unique and special in their own way. We love them equally and do not differentiate between any of them. 

There is nothing more dear than holding a newborn in your arms for the first time. It is a moment of both joy and fear. The emotion cannot be described in words. Suddenly, you are responsible for this tiny, helpless human being. For a short time, they are dependent on you for every basic need. You have hopes and dreams of what their life will be like and what they will become. You want only the best and don’t consider that they will someday be making their own choices— choices that may vary from what you had planned for them. 

Early in my children’s lives, I learned that there would be times when we would disagree. From the terrible twos that begin long before they are two, to the disagreeable seven-year-old and the very opinionated 12-year-old. Life throws you a few unexpected curve balls. Just when you think you have it all figured out, they turn 15 and want independence. Then, before you know it, they are 18 and think they are all grown up and don’t need you anymore. 

The nature vs. nurture debate will go on forever. This controversy is over whether a child’s innate genetic traits or the environment in which they grow up has more of an influence on their character. From my personal experience, I believe the nature aspect plays a more profound role. 

With biological children, you are generally aware of what genetic traits they will inherit. Eye and hair color, height and weight, creativity, and athleticism, are just a few of the obvious characteristics we see. When you adopt a child, their traits are foreign to you. So, in my case, I looked at each of them as a blank canvas. This was all new territory. 

To have a child with natural athletic ability was exciting to say the least. Both of our adopted children have naturally physical strength to perform almost any sport with ease. When they were young, it was easy to involve them in any sport and watch them thrive. It was fun for everybody. But as they got older, they actually started voicing their own opinions. 

This is when it got hard. For instance, our son would participate in any sport until he excelled at it and then would decide to quit and start something new. After which he would proceed to do the same thing all over again. I believe he could have had many sports scholarships if he would have just pursued one for any given time. 

Our daughter, although very talented, has low self-esteem. Even with our encouragement and praise, she never felt like she was as good as others. In high school, she was involved in an emotionally abusive relationship and essentially began to lose confidence in herself and her natural abilities. Eventually, we had to let go and let be.

I always wanted the best for all of my children. I wanted my daughter to be an accomplished dancer, and when she gave that up I wanted her to play college volleyball. Throughout most of her life, I realized that I was living vicariously through her and wanted her to be what I couldn’t; but at the same time wanting to conform her to who I thought she “should” be. As time passes, I am learning to let go and let be. 

Life is always changing and we must be willing to change with it. We can learn much from the changing colors of the leaves in autumn and as the leaves begin to fall we can see how beautiful it is to let things go.