Being a parent
I know everyone says being a parent is hard. No matter how parenthood comes to you. And it is. Completely. But I can obviously only speak to being a parent to kids who are adopted. What I didn't expect (which was stupid on my part) were all the differing opinions there are in the adoption community. Don't call your adoption date a "gotcha day"! That's insensitive! What, you don't celebrate a "gotcha day"? Don't call your child's biological mother a "tummy mommy" (or insert whatever term here). She is MORE than a vessel! Refer to her a (insert proper term here). You should do everything possible to expose your child to their birth country and heritage or you're doing them an injustice!
I'll be honest, it sucks. There are days where I think I'm scarring my child for life because of how we talk about his adoption and there are others where I think I'm on top of the world. Adoption is complicated - it just is. And, just like in parenting a biological child, there's no set of instructions or certified books that tell you how to navigate everything.
But there are opinions. And lots of them.
Because we encountered so much support in the adoption process, I naively assumed it would be the same when we actually had our child. Everyone would rally around us, give us high-fives and pats on the back with each parenting victory, offer non-judgmental advice only when asked, tell us we are doing good, etc. But that just isn't the reality. Now, what I'm NOT saying is that it's all bad. Because it's not at all and we have a great support system around us. And if I'm being honest a lot of the animosity I see or differences in opinions are mostly on social media where everyone wants to think they are 10ft tall and bulletproof. Likely saying things on a keyboard/screen they'd never say in person. And they aren't even directed at us, per say. I come across them researching questions I have about my own kids.
This coupled with the notion that we should focus less on our own thoughts and needs as the adoptive parents and spend all of our time understanding the world from our child's point of view as the adoptee can make anyone feel like a total and complete failure. (Not that this isn't important, but that's for a WHOLE other blog post on its own).
We are all just trying to do what is best. Whether it is best in the moment or best for a lifetime. And sometimes it's hard to know which is which at the moment.
Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. I had tried to prepare myself to be 100% dedicated to whatever O needed when he came home. Feed him, bathe him, make good eye contact, don't let anyone else be near him or touch him ever ever ever, don't let him cry for more than .5 seconds, put all my own needs aside. Including sleeping, eating, getting out of the house (even if it's just to the mailbox), showering, whatever. THAT ALL HAS TO STOP WHEN HE COMES HOME IF IT INTERFERES WITH HIS LIFE AT ALL.
Wanna know what happened? Insanity happened. I was having dreams that I was my husband and it would take me longer than I'd like to admit to realize that I was, in fact, me and not my husband. Like I actually thought I was him. I could never remember when I ate last. I showered occasionally which is not often enough, folks. I cried - like a lot. And I now cannot even recollect why most of the times I did. I wore myself out. And I'd talk myself out of anything to help me feel better because "This is nothing compared to what O is going through." So I thought I had to just toughen up.
I remember having a breakdown and just sobbing. I can't remember now what happened but my scale was tipped. My husband, bless him, timidly patted my back and said "I think we need to get out of here." And we packed some bags and went to Oklahoma City for the weekend. We stayed at a hotel that had an indoor pool, went to an awesome children's museum, ate out every meal (which meant we didn't have to cook OR clean), and we relaxed. I could feel the tension releasing from my muscles and my brain was de-fogging. I knew then I had to come up with a better mantra than "toughen up".
I can't say I'm good at it even now. But I do think I'm better about recognizing it in myself and in my husband and figuring out what to do. Sometimes it's something as small as taking over an unruly situation, my husband recognizing when I'm flustered and jumping in (and vice versa), knowing when we are BOTH tapped out and calling our family for some help, etc. You get the idea. And I think that can be more important than handling everything perfectly.
Ok, so here's my point in talking about this. A. I just don't want others to be caught off guard like me. And B. Know that you are doing your best. You are the one for this job. Ask for help when you need it, connect with your adoption community, and take everything with a grain of salt. You will hear all sorts of things, conflicting messages, and it will swallow you whole if you let it. Don't. Figure out how to re-center yourself and move forward.
Like I say most of the time, I don't know if any of this makes sense outside of my own head. But I hope it does and if it helps even one person, I'm calling that a win!