While searching for things to read while bored the other day I cam across two letters. The first, Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom, an open letter to moms. The Second, Dear Moms of Adopted Children, a letter based on the first letter to moms of adopted children. Some things touched me deeply about it, but still didn’t ring true. I now give you my version. The Italized sections below are taken from Dear Moms of Adopted Children
Dear Moms of an Older Adopted Child (or Children),
I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?
I know about all those books you read back then. How you skipped over the “What to Expect” series and went straight to books detailing school days and helping with homework. The books explaining attachment disorders and how to honor birth family history.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, making sure that you could afford a child, or children that you hoped and prayed were coming into your home.
I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.
I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know. I know about the interviews with the child’s social workers, knowing that they are evaluating you right now, as you answer these questions to see if you are good enough, smart enough, adoption-savy enough to parent this specific child. I see how you make the interview appointments come hell or high water, and nothing can spoil the adrenaline of that day. I know how you jump every time the phone rings thinking the social workers have chosen, finally made a decision between you and these other families also waiting.
I know about the heartbreak when trying to hold back tears as your social worker explains over the phone that another family was chosen to parent the child(ren). I can hear the well-meaning and amazing friends sitting with you as you cry, in public, silent tears of frustration and heartbreak. I hear you berating yourself for being so sad when a child just found a home, telling yourself how selfish you are. I see the walls get built up around your heart (again), never wanting to do this again and wondering why you did it in the first place. I also see, how over the days and weeks and months to come, the walls get torn down (again) and you are ready to open yourself up to a child.
I know about your hesitation to put your “name in”, to submit your home study. I know how it would be seemingly easier to become President of the United States than find your child. Your child who you know is out there, out there somewhere. Are they safe and happy you wonder while crying yourself to sleep for yet another night.
I see the reserved excitement as you find out that you are one of 5, 3, or 2 families being considered for a specific child, or sibling group. I feel your heart want to beat out of your chest as you resist the urge to drive to Walmart or Target, or heck even Alco since it is close and buy ALL THE KIDS’ THINGS! I hear people unsure of how to respond when you share this news. I hear the hesitant congratulations as well as the admonitions to not get your hopes up again. That is like telling a pregnant lady not to eat ice cream and pickles, where there is children there is hope.
I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know how you vacuumed the baseboards of your house, THE BASEBOARDS! I know the awkward glances between you and your spouse and how you will each other not to make an inappropriate joke, to not say any of the million things on the “Not to Tell the Social Worker” list. Like how the dog kennel would make a great “baby jail”. Or how your not worried about attachment because even kidnap victims eventually come around to the side of the kidnappers. I know how you laugh at these statements late at night with your partner, knowing how horrible each is, but needing to find some humor in this process.
I know about the move-in day, the days where your house exploded with toys and clothes and books. I know how you try to keep working full or part time. I know the ache in your heart every time your child refuses to let go when you drop them off at daycare. I know that you know your child is genuinely worried that you will not come back. I know about the late night tear-filled conversations about what to do. About having time with your family and how daycare is expensive. I know about the decision to leave the job you love to take care of the kids you love more. I see you as you are cleaning out your office, kids in tow because where else would they be? I see the silent tears you try to quickly wipe away as you question if you made the right choice. I watch as you put your framed diplomas and certificates in a bag and bring them home and shove them in the closet with the rest of the things from work. I know you wonder if they will ever be used again or if they will stay there collecting dust until old age.
I see you at home, while your spouse is at work doing everything you can to just make it through the day. I watch as your family slowly finds the groove and begin to settle in. I know about how after the kids go to bed, you marvel at the fact that your family is finally complete and your heart is full of happiness.
I watch as you film your children running around with the jar of peanut butter before school in the morning trying to hide it from you because that is the funniest thing in the world apparently. I know you text it to your spouse, genuinely sad for him that he is missing out on this moment. I see you realize, again, how thankful and blessed you are to be home with the kids (even when they drive you bonkers).
I see you searching to fill the gaps in their experiences from going to the zoo to learning their letters. I know you want to give your kids the best possible future. I hear you wondering if anything you do will make up for the impoverished start. I feel your heart burst with joy as your daughter reads her first word (with your help).
I know you wonder if the kids will ever feel like they are home. I see you cringe when your youngest asked if we are at “your house” yet, reminding him for the umpteenth time that this is “OUR house”. I see the smile and feel the pride when he begins to refer to it is “our house”.
I know how hard you work on social skills with your oldest. How every little thing is taken the wrong way and made into a mountain. I know how many emails and phone calls to the teacher you have made this year (and it is only January) about peer issues. I see your breath escaping your body as you find a note in your daughter book bag asking for help figuring out what to do about a rude girl. I know how you praise her up and down and through next week for being so proactive with peer issues.
I don’t know what comes next. What adoption day, graduation day, or any other day looks like or what will come of your children’s lives. I know you worry about giving them everything they could possibly need, but the truth is you already have. You have given them you! I know you blush and look away at that statement because you know the truth, what you have given them pales in comparison to what they have given you.