Friday, May 21, 2010
Adoption 101- Letter to Beginners
Inspired by a comment I read today, I've been contemplating the long journey of adoption. I've been thinking of those starting out, and all those earlier in the process than we are. Seeing as our referral number is now in the 40's I'm beginning to feel like a veteran. You can call me Colonel. So what have I learned? What pearls of wisdom would I share? I suppose my first thought is always have prozac and vodka near by. It's jokes like this that will probably get me sued one day.
In my perfect world I would begin this letter by announcing there will be no difficulties in this process. There will be no pain, no tears, no incapacitating sadness. It will seem like a short dream, and when you wake you will be holding the children you longed for. I wish that for all of you. I wish I could promise rainbows and lollipops. I wish not one unhappy tear would touch your cheeks.
Reality though is upon us, so I'll begin with what I think is the most important part, grieving. There are so many things during this process that you will grieve, and I believe it's imperative to do so. I'm not terribly emotional which in ways has made it more important for me to really grieve. I'd love to make a list of things you'll grieve but we're all different. I've grieved loss of pregnancy, loss of privacy, and loss of sanity. Thankfully sanity never really suited me to begin with.
You'll hit rock bottom and you'll climb your way back up. When you fall again, you'll discover there is still a darker place. This will get harder. I know it seems impossible to imagine but it does. It's probably a good thing I'm not Tony Robbins doing feel good inspirational talks. I'm thinking I'd be egged right about now. Last night when I broke down with my husband (I have a big emotional upset every four to five months), I sobbed 'why does this never get easier? ' The answer is, it just doesn't. In fact with the new rules in place for our adoption there will be a fresh new hell upon us. I've learned you can't prepare for pain. You can put supports in place and organize relief, but you can't prepare for the pain itself. As more hurdles present themselves, you will undoubtedly find yourself distraught at times. The good news is you'll live through it. I can't tell you how, but when the chaos has cleared and you're taking deep breaths, you'll find you once more survived. Stranger still you'll look outside and realize that while your life is upside down the world very much keeps turning. At times this will unnerve you, and other times it's consistency will be a relief.
Depending on how you got to this place and how many years have passed, there is a chance you'll not remember who you were before. It will seem like a shadow you once knew. When I look at our wedding photos I'm struck by the naiveté of that young bride. She had no idea life would take her to this moment. No idea her world would get so much harder, and bigger, and more amazing than she'd dreamed. She had no idea her new husband and her would endure so much and still fall in love further amongst the turmoil.
You'll think you're losing your mind, and you will many many times. You'll lose little pieces of the puzzle that is you, and find new ones to take their place. You'll create new visions. Some days you will look in the mirror and be amazed at the strength of the person looking back at you. You'll be amazed at the life you have built. Other days you'll see defeat. Life will feel like a battle. You must remember it's not how hard you're knocked down, but that you keep standing back up that matters.
I'd like to promise happy endings for everyone, but that would be irresponsible. I can't tell you how your story will end, but I can tell you this one will. One day, however you make it through, you'll survive. I haven't reached the ending of my journey, but I have hit the wall many times. Amazingly I'm still standing, still smiling (most of the time), and still dreaming of my ending. This to shall pass, as they say. When it does I plan on having a big glass of wine to toast the places I've been, and the hard times I've seen, and the hope that never lets go.
Much love and strength to you on your travels.