There is so much about adoption that is hard.
It is hard to do the mountains of paperwork required to even begin.
It is hard to wait to see the face of your new child.
It is hard to think about worst-case scenarios about that child’s medical condition.
It is hard to wait to bring that child home.
It is hard to think about that child leaving everything he or she has ever known.
It is hard to travel to a different place, to be out of your comfort zone, and have your life turned upside down.
It is hard to watch your new child be scared of you. Or grieve. Or reject you. Or be so afraid that they won’t let you go even if you need to go to the bathroom.
It is hard not to be able to communicate with your new child.
It is hard to fly for 14 hours with a new and grieving child.
It is hard to experience jet lag.
It is hard to experience jet lag while your new child is experiencing jet lag.
It is hard to help your grieving child adjust.
It is hard to help your grieving child adjust while helping your other children adjust as well.
It is hard to help all of your children adjust while you also adjust to this new family dynamic.
It is hard to schedule and go to all the necessary medical appointments.
It is hard to explain all these new and scary medical procedures to your child.
It is hard to tell your child she will have surgery.
It is hard to send your child into surgery.
It is hard to fall in love with your new child… sometimes.
It is hard to like your new child… sometimes.
It is hard to practice love the verb without having love the emotion.
It is hard to realize all that your new child missed.
It is hard to realize all that your new child missed and that the deficits could have lifelong implications.
It is hard to watch your child rage.
It is hard to feel helpless when your child is raging.
It is hard when your child weeps in your arms telling you he misses his birth mother and father.
It is hard to watch your child struggle.
It is hard to not have the answers your child so greatly desires.
It is hard.
If you are not an adoptive parent, you may look at that list and think: why would anyone voluntarily open themselves up to all of that? Why? Frankly, sometimes those of us in the trenches think that as well. Those are the hard days.
But there is another side to the hard.
It is joy to see your child’s first smile.
It is joy to be able to soothe his or her hurts.
It is joy to watch her accomplish something neither of you thought she’d be able to.
It is joy to notice he kept his temper in check when provoked.
It is joy to feel those flutterings of emotional love for the first time.
It is joy when everyone in the house is interacting as though they have always all been there.
It is joy to hear laughter from a child who never smiled.
It is joy to be able to reconnect old friends.
It is joy to see your child make new friends.
It is joy to receive a hug from a child who didn’t like you.
It is joy to be allowed to give a hug to a child who had been so hurt.
It is joy to watch bike riding and jumping and playing and eating and sleeping, because these are normal kid-things.
It is joy to see real emotion in a child who was always abnormally happy.
It is joy to have your child seek you out for comfort in a crowd of strangers.
Because there is so much hard, there is so much more joy. Joy in the small, normal, everyday, often unnoticed events of life. The hard means we take nothing for granted anymore. Everything becomes important, special, worthy of notice. The hard has taught us to appreciate the small stuff; to live in the moment. Yes, the hard is hard, but the joy is great.