November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. As an adoptive mom, it’s an extra opportunity for me to talk about the wonder and amazement of adoption.
My kids love when I tell them stories of the first time we met.
For my son, it was a very warm day in Central America, and he was bundled in layer upon layer of blankets when handed to me. I just kept peeling back fabrics, wondering if anything was to ever reveal itself. Just as sure as the sun rises, his face eventually peaked from under a woven cloth. When our eyes met each other’s, there was an instant calm that flooded us both. We were where we were meant to be–together.
Almost exactly two years later on the other side of the world in Africa, I had another breathtaking moment when my daughter was placed in my arms. Her eyes were tired, and I was immediately told she doesn’t sleep during the day. She was an infant, and I couldn’t understand how that could be. I looked into her eyes, and she looked back into mine. I told her mommy was here and brushed my fingers over her weary face. Within minutes she was fast asleep in my arms. The caregivers were shocked, but I wasn’t. We were where we were meant to be–together.
I’d be foolish to think every adoption story begins this way. However, one of the first things that adoption taught me is that your child will find their way to you, however it is meant to be. Adoption has changed me in countless ways. Here are a few ways adoption has changed the way I personally see the world:
A mind shift to see others’ perspectives.
More than anything in life, I always wanted to be a mom. That was the one constant that helped shape many of my life’s decisions. It wasn’t until the moment I was ready to embark on the journey of motherhood that I had a subtle mind shift: for as much as I wanted a child, there was a child in this world who wanted a mom even more. From that realization forward, I’ve challenged myself to see things from other viewpoints.
Beautiful things can come from very hard places.
In order for adoption to occur, a loss had to happen first. I watch my children grow and blossom every day. I see joy in their faces and watch love explode from their hearts. At the same time, I witness their struggles in seemingly ordinary situations. Seeking the good in a not-so-good situation can be tricky, but it likely can be found with persistence.
Sometimes there isn’t a right or wrong choice; there’s just a choice.
I believe people do the best they can given their circumstances, and sometimes there isn’t a right or wrong solution. Occasionally, though, a choice needs to be made to move forward, and we can only hope grace and kindness is offered in response.
An increased appreciation for things unseen and inexplainable.
I used to want to see things in black and white. Having a solid understanding or explanation used to fuel my ability to accept a situation. Now, I try my best to see things differently. I live my life in the gray without knowing all of the reasons why and simply try to believe everything is done with best of intentions.
Discomfort is only uncomfortable until you become better acquainted.
There are a lot of growing pains in parenting and an extra layer with adoption. My experience has taught me two things about discomfort: growth inevitably emerges when you’re forced beyond your comfort zone, and discomfort only remains until a sense of familiarity surfaces.
Relationship by biology is minuscule to a relationship by love, trust, and respect.
This one is so true on so many levels. We choose who we call family. Blood does not bind, but rather an unwavering and unconditional commitment cements family.
Celebration of diversity.
Our family does not physically resemble one another. It is an awesome opportunity to celebrate diversity out loud. I’m much more aware of the diversity that surrounds us and also, at times, that doesn’t. Having this consciousness opens my eyes to varied cultures and encourages me to experience the world on deeper levels.
Assumptions and stereotypes are damaging.
Acknowledging my own biases and prejudices have ranged from mildly awkward to shameful. To say that I have completely eradicated these assumptions and stereotypes wouldn’t be an honest statement (but, I’m constantly striving for that goal). However, it’s an honest statement to say that I work very hard every day to see people as unique individuals.
Having a global mindset serves everyone better.
Occasionally, adoptive parents know things about their child’s culture and heritage, but often times, it’s not a complete picture. Recognizing this and then leading with a global mindset and education better serves my family and my community–both local and afar.
Love transcends borders.
We are raised identifying borders. From cities, counties, and states to countries, continents, and hemispheres. Adoption breaks the barrier of borders. The soil on which you were born does not deem you more or less worthy. A line on a map should not separate humanity and equality.
I’m grateful to have met my children in the most extraordinary of ways. I am blessed beyond measure with the privilege and honor of being their mother. I can say with certainty that for every one thing I teach them, they teach me tenfold. Adoption often leaves me in awe of the greater work at large.
If you have an adoption story to share, I’d absolutely love to hear it! How has adoption changed the way you see the world?
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