I never set out to be a writer, yet here you are reading an article that I not only wrote but got paid for writing. If you had told me thirteen years ago that this would happen, I wouldn’t have believed you. A lot has changed for me in those ensuing thirteen years, and quite a bit of it has been due to my blog.

Thirteen years ago was when we first started the paperwork for our first adoption. The Internet and personal computers were quickly becoming fairly ubiquitous, and I even had my first cell phone, being a rather late adopter of new technology. When we received the referral for our son, blogs were an extremely popular vehicle to document the adoption process and journey, and since it seemed like an easy way to keep our extended family involved, we jumped on the bandwagon.

I went back and looked at some of those early posts. I remember being more than a little bit uncomfortable writing something the public could see. The posts were sporadic, and as likely to be written by my husband, who is the better writer out of the two of us, as by me. It was easier once we actually traveled because when you are traveling, there is something to write about every day. And then we came home, and without the daily travel adventures, it became a little more difficult to find what to write.

As I look back, though, I noticed that my posts became more and more frequent, until about four months before we traveled to bring home our second adopted son, I was posting nearly every day. I remember that being a conscious choice. I wanted both to see if I could manage to write something that people would want to read every day, and because it was such a fantastic way for my parents, who live many states away, to feel more connected to their grandchildren.

Twelve years and 2,705 posts later, here is what keeping this adoption blog has done for me.

1. It is therapeutic. I would probably continue to write at this point even if no one ever read it. I have discovered through writing I am able to process my thoughts and experiences better. The habit of forcing myself to think through things enough to write about them coherently helps me to make sense of them. If I don’t write on a particular day for some reason, it feels wrong.

2. It has allowed me to help others. I am fairly open about our experiences as adoptive parents, at least as far as we can be and still allow for privacy. (That’s a tricky line, though, and I’m sure I don’t always get it right). I have received countless emails and messages from other adoptive parents thanking me for giving them hope. There is something healing about knowing you are not the only one to experience something. It makes it seem less wrong and less odd and less personal.

3. It has allowed me to educate. We were blindsided by our son’s trauma, even though we prepared ourselves as best we could. Research on trauma and its effects was still in its infancy twelve years ago, and it has been a steep learning curve for us. I try to spare other families the pain we and our son went through as we walked up that curve by giving them information that I wish I had had.

4. It has turned me into a writer. There is nothing like writing every day to hone one’s writing skills. The more you write, the better you get. You develop your own voice and your own style. I read some of those early, hesitant posts, and inwardly cringe just a little bit. That is a byproduct, though, of practicing a skill for everyone to read.

5. It has given me work. My first freelance job came from an editor reading my blog and asking if I would write an article about homeschooling for them. One article led to another, and soon I was writing fairly regularly for that magazine, all the while pretending I actually knew what I was doing. It was a good introduction to invoices and SEO and pitching articles. I have also been asked to speak on different topics relating to family and adoption and homeschooling as a result of my writings on my blog. It turns out I really kind of enjoy doing that, but is one of those results I could have never predicted.

6. It has given me new friends. I have actually made real-life friends from readers who contacted me and after corresponding, met in real life. It does always feel a bit odd to say about a friend, “Oh, I met them through the Internet,” but it’s true.

7. It has provided an invaluable family record. Because I write every day, and often what I write has to do with something our family did or something I read or something that happened to us, we now have a twelve-year chronical, complete with photos of our day-to-day life. I can go back and watch my children grow and mature. It is also the final arbiter of family discussions about past events. When there is a difference of opinion, someone will inevitably grab a phone and search through the blog to prove their point.

Who knew when we decided to start a blog all those years ago what it would lead to and how it would affect our lives? We never planned for it to happen, it just did, and it is kind of difficult to imagine what life would look like without what is almost a fifteenth family member.