Adoption. Is. Hard.
If you’ve walked this journey, you know the struggle. And my struggles may be different than yours. But all the same, there are knock you down, speechless, gut wrenching struggles along the way.
I distinctly remember a receptionist at the doctor’s office casually asking me two months into our foster journey if the boys were well adjusted. And if you know me, I speak truth. I don’t do that sugarcoating thing. I said to her kindly and patiently, “Adopting children, especially older children, is not like bringing home a new puppy. You don’t bring them home, hug and kiss on them and give them shiny new toys, collars and bowls that erases all their pain up until that point. These boys are 2 and 4. They have left the only home they knew, their foster home to come live with 2 strangers who say they are now Mommy and Daddy. They don’t understand the depth of it. Things are hard. Things have been challenging.” And the real kicker, I couldn’t even imagine the level of hard it would get.
My two boys have been with me 3 1/2 years. They were placed with my late husband and me when they were 2 and 4. Eight months into our adoption process, Jake was killed in the line of duty. I had to tell these sweet boys who had already lost their bio family, left their only foster family, that the adoptive Daddy, who promised them forever, would never come home again.
I was a brand new mom, suddenly going it alone, and grieving with my shredded heart, all while trying to be the best mom I could be.
And Lord, I was far from perfect. Two months after Jake’s death, I legally adopted them as a solo parent.
The next year was a blur, and in retrospect, I can see how living in a grieving, chaotic environment was hard on us all. We had a ton of support. I did the best I could. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Nor do I blame myself. But I had to rebuild myself, heal myself, so I could be the best mama. That meant calling on others to help. And I can only imagine how unusual and difficult that was for them. Top that off with all of the ceremonies and honors to recognize Jake for his heroism. So not traditional. And then life continued to change.
2020 brought a whole new level of hard. Parenting in a pandemic. The Covid pandemic has now been called a trauma. Add that to the list of the traumas they have endured in their 6 and 8 years of life. A month later my mom died suddenly of a heart attack. And what’s worse, we haven’t even had a funeral yet. She was cremated and we will try to find our small piece of closure in her Celebration of Life in this coming month. It seems bad things come in 3’s. For reasons I still struggle with, I lost 2 of my best friends somewhere in that time. Between the 2, my boys lost 6 friends in the adult mess of all. Six kids that I thought would be staple friends in their lives as I believed our families were so close, we too were family.
So, my point, adoption is hard. And we have had a whole lot of hard piling up on top of us since then. I would love to spill some inspiration words of wisdom for you, but for this, I just can’t. We are in a phase where the struggles have consumed me. And our team of professionals that support the boys and I are stumped. What do you do when your resources are stumped? When they are out of answers? I continue to hear how adoption journeys are hard, yet, we have hit a whole new level of hard with all we have been through. Not a unique quality I wanted us to attain. Sure, people want to stand out, but not in this way, I assure you.
I feel as if I am in a hopeless pit and all I can see is darkness. Each day I wake up and do it all again and that is the glimmer of light that I grasp on to.
My shame is telling me that all these words are too vulnerable, too raw, too personal. My shame is telling me that every sentence sounds like whiny, a glass half empty, and I’m not counting my blessings. But that is shame. And shame wants you to feel crummy.
Yes, this is by no means a positive post, and it is REAL. It is okay to not be okay. And I am not okay right now.
I hurt. I want to wave a wand and race to easy street. In fact, I told our newest therapist to the team that I was gravely disappointed she did not show up in a glittery dress and bring her wand. No joke.
So if you’re not okay, that’s okay. I’m not either. For now, I’m going to just try to recognize that and accept that. I’m trying, and I’ll keep trying even when I feel there is no more fight left in this dog.