If you are a prospective adoptive parent and wondering if it’s really worth it to go through all the trouble it takes to adopt a child, and all the work it takes to raise one, read this. Your hesitation and fears may just be abated.

Forty-three years ago we adopted our fifth child, a son. We named him Paul. Little did we know at the time the blessings this child would bring into our lives. We were certain he would bring abundant love, along with a few challenges. After all, he was a normal kid growing up. But then he did just that—he grew up. He began his college life and married a lovely woman, whom we adore. He could not have chosen a better mate, nor a better mother for their six children. Nor a better daughter-in-law for us.

Now I’m going to get even more personal. This past week we traveled a couple of hundred miles to attend their son Richard’s high school graduation. It’s amazing how quickly our grandchildren are growing up.

Before giving the details of the graduation, I must tell you about the four-hour drive to their home. Another grandchild, Jade, the young adult daughter of our adopted son, John, wanted to go with us. She adores her cousins and wanted to be in on the graduation festivities honoring Richard. They have been long-distance buddies all their lives, strengthened by family reunions whenever we could make them happen. It seems to be up to the grandparents to provide those reunions when the cousins can get together, and well worth all the effort it takes.

As the miles clicked by, Jade talked and we listened, sharing a thought or two along the way. What a sweet time it was hearing all about her future plans, her desires, her disappointments, and dreams. She’s turned into a lovely young woman, so fun to be with. A blessing for sure.

At the Graduation

The services were held at a nearby college auditorium. It was about 20 minutes from their home. As it turned out, two of Richard’s youngest siblings wanted to ride with us, one eight and one nearly six. On the way the six-year-old said, “You came all this way just to see Richard graduate?” We said, “Yes, we did.” He said, “Wow, it must be really important to graduate.” We assured him it was.  Such a cute, eager little guy. Another blessing.

The auditorium was filled with families—all so proud of their graduating sons and daughters. The school orchestra played and the choral group sang. They were well-prepared and every parent of any student participating must have been bursting their buttons with pride.

The speeches were given and we were impressed once again with the caliber of these students, thinking the world is going to be in very good hands. Then came the time to award diplomas to the students. They had been asked to be respectful and not do anything that would bring shame on them, their parents, or the school during these important services. They obeyed and it went smooth as silk.

Here’s the best part, at least for this grandmother. Our grandson’s name was called and he stepped forward with a smile, and all the family cheered. He was wearing the honors ropes that signified he had worked hard and deserved to be recognized for it. He was not the only one–out of 229 graduates there were 112 honor students. We were impressed that nearly half of those students had taken their schooling seriously enough to be considered honor students.

We took pictures, we gave hugs, we were reveling in the joy of a grandson graduating and preparing to move forward to college and other worthwhile activities. When I hugged him in his graduation cap and gown, he whispered in my ear, “I love you, Grandma. Thank you so much for coming. It really means a lot to me.” Oh, how I love this boy. He is a blessing for sure.

Our grandson Richard with  his grandparents at high school graduation
Our grandson Richard with us, his grandparents, at high school graduation
Richard with his cousin Jade
Richard with his cousin Jade

Enjoy your grandparent journey

The journey of grandparenthood is a mostly joyous and smooth one. Now I didn’t say the journey of parenthood is quite that simple. We know because in order to be at this point, enjoying grandchildren, we had to wade through what at times felt like knee-deep mire. We found out that you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward. As parents, the good times will definitely come and you will relish them, making all the hard times well worth the effort. This is the case with all parents, whether or not their kids are adopted. Parenting is hard, no question about it. But there is no greater calling in all the world.

Then comes the reward: grandparenthood. Ah, how sweet it is. Here are a few tips to help you along that journey.

1. Be patient. Your time for being the grandparent generation will come. It’s the prize.

2. Praise your children for every good thing they do for their kids. Letting them know you are proud of them will help them do the “hanging-in-there” work with greater confidence, which in turn will help create those adorable grandchildren you’re waiting in the wings for.

3. Stay close to your grandchildren. If they live far away call them, text them, send cards, and visit as often as you can. Let them know you are proud of them when they do something of worth, even small things like helping with the dishes, or sending you a thank you card for a gift you gave them. They need pats on the back.

4. Attend their special events, if you can. When you can’t, let them know how you wish you could be there. Just knowing you care and love them will mean so much to them. Keep it going throughout their young years and beyond. Children need loving grandparents.

At Richard’s graduation it was interesting to note that during the salutatorian speech, given by a young man, it was his grandmother he praised most as having helped him achieve his goals. So, you see, grandparents are significantly important. When it’s your turn, enjoy it to the hilt. It’s the dessert of life.