"Pregnancy brain" is hitting hard these days. In the last month or so, I've forgotten...
...to write a church event on the calendar (and scheduled to work instead!)
...a doctor's appointment (and then realized I wrote it on the wrong day anyways!)
...a meeting for work (that I was supposed to speak at!)
...what I really needed at the grocery store (but leave with a cart full of everything else!).
...to write a check for notarizing important documents (Praise God, I remembered right before the envelope was sealed and sent!)
And these are just a few of the things I realize I have forgotten lately! Who knows what other balls have been dropped the past few months as we journey on this adoption road again, with all the papers and deadlines and appointments and important information we need to juggle! I distinctly remember about a week before we flew to China to bring our son home opening our refrigerator one bleary-eyed morning and being perplexed why an ice cream container was sitting in there (insert face palm and then sad face!). Yep, adoptive moms crave ice cream and accidentally put it in the fridge too!
But there's one thing I honestly forget every day and I'm OK with it. I honestly forget that we welcomed our precious son into our family through adoption. In our day-to-day, around the house, playdates with friends, activities at church life, it usually doesn't cross my mind that one of my children grew inside my belly for nine months and one grew in another woman's stomach that I might never meet. That one has curly blonde hair just like I did as a child and one has straight black hair and looks nothing like me. That one of them I've known since she took her first breath and the other has been in our lives for less than a year, but feels like forever.
These are not the thoughts that usually come into my mind as I watch my children grow, learn, and love. At the playground, I'm thinking about how I'm proud of my daughter for scaling the monkey bars while I'm excited that my son has the courage to go down the big slides. After church, I'm amazed at how both children's sponge-like brains are soaking up the lessons about Jesus and delight in hearing them verbalize what they learned in their own special way. And at home, my heart sings when big sister helps little brother get dressed or when they both run around the house playing "flying to China to get a new brother or sister" with backpack on their little backs.
Obviously, life with children coming from two very different experiences is not always bliss and I sometimes get an abrupt reminder of the brokenness that brought our son into our family. Sometimes it's a well-meaning stranger who says "Is he yours or are you just babysitting him?" or "That's so cute he calls you 'mama.' " Sometimes it's those moments when trauma comes creeping back in, like when our son wakes up at 3am utterly distraught and we just don't know why. Or when he wants me to hold him like a baby as he pretends to cry and I pretend to rock him. I'll stare in his precious eyes and wish I was there to cradle him as a baby. To see what he looked like those first few months and years. To know his little life before us.
So, what does it matter that on a typical day I forget that my son was brought into our family through adoption? Because on a typical day, we're just a "normal" family doing "normal" every day life together. Adoption makes us look a little different, but our kids are our kids and my son will always be my son. We're just your typical parents trying to love the children God has placed into our arms as best as we possibly can. Sure, how we parent our two children is different. How we respond when one wakes up in the middle of the night is different. How we comfort when one is inconsolable is different. But biological or adopted, each child is different and must be parented differently, as he or she is a unique child of the King.
There will be days coming that our son realizes he didn't grow in Mommy's belly like his sister. He will someday understand that well-meaning but actually heart-breaking comment by a passerby at the store. He very well might be asked by a friend or stranger why he doesn't look like the rest of his family. And we are preparing now for when he grieves and has questions about his first family. Those days, we will remember the brokenness and tragedy that birthed our precious son into our family. Every family's adoption story is different and the reality of loss impacts each family in a myriad of ways.
Why are we telling you all of this? Other than that you now understand when we don't show up to something or forget to respond to something, you know it's my "pregnancy brain" working over time. During National Adoption Awareness Month and every other month of the year, we want to encourage want-to-be-but-scared-out-of-their-minds potential adoptive parents. We were one of you (and still don't have whole this parenting thing all figured out!). Scared we wouldn't know how to parent a child from a traumatic past. Frightened at bringing a child into our home with potentially life-altering special needs. Worried at all the unknowns of international adoption and attachment and adjustments.
Adoption must be walked into with eyes wide open to the challenges mingled with the joys a family will face by welcoming a precious child into their arms who has experienced unimaginable loss and trauma. But just as you worry and fight fears of the unknowns, prospective adoptive parent, just think of all the worries and fears your precious child on the other side of the world or across town is battling:
Will someone ever love me?
Why do others get chosen and not me?
What's wrong with me?
What will happen to me when I'm too old to be adopted?
How will I survive in this lonely world on my own?
Those are the hardest, scariest fears in the world. And that is the reason why we as parents must put one trembling foot in front of the other to open our hearts and homes to vulnerable children. Because every child deserves to go to bed with a full belly and in a safe place, knowing they are forever loved and apart of a supportive family.
As we look into our precious son's eyes and kiss his adorable cheeks every day, we remember only one thing: he is our precious child. The one God planned before the foundations of the world to be apart of our family. Our hearts grieve for his loss and will never fully understand why we get the privilege to love on him daily while another family a million miles away doesn't. We promise to never forget them or his birth culture that shaped his first two years of life and his DNA the rest of his days. But we daily will honestly forget that our blood doesn't run through his veins. Because, what's most important is that he calls us "Mama" and "Dada." And we're so thankful we didn't miss the blessing he is in our lives!
Scared Mama or Dada, the adoption road will be long and hard and take everything you have and more, just like parenting any child is the ultimate act of selfless sacrifice. But someday we pray that you too will look at your precious child see only one thing: your precious child. You'll honestly forget those long hours of paperwork and appointments and plane flights and endless fears. You'll just know that God perfectly place your child into your forever family. And you'll just be so grateful you didn't miss this.