I have had a hard time this week deciding what to blog. I had a specific topic in mind, but just could not quite get it put together. Then the idea of transitions in life came to mind. Specifically, all of the transitions that happen as we become parents.
For a typical parent, there is a lot of time to transition and prepare for a new baby. It continues on until the day we die. We transition from the baby to stage, to toddler, pre-school, school age, pre-teen, etc. For an adoptive parent, the stages are the same except we do not have the privilege of preparing for a new baby in the same way. We do not carry the child for 9 months, creating an immediate bond with the child. We may not be there for the birth, and those precious few moments after they arrive. We may not even have the joy of watching them grow during those all important infant and toddler years, as we did not.
There are many reasons why I miss, even grieve, some of those moments. I did not get to relish in the first movement felt, or be able to feel my husband's hand on my tummy as he feels his child move. I was not there for those critical developmental years, and was unable to protect them from terrible situations. I worry it is because of these missed years, that I may not have as close of a relationship with my children as those who are birth families. I do not want to short change these precious children.
I have no way of knowing if we had been able to have biological children, what they would have been like. There is really no reason to even speculate. But I often wonder. It would not have made any difference if we had had biological children. We did not decide to have our own children until after we had started the process to adopt our first 3 children. Our family dynamic would have been the only thing different. And we would have had a reference between what is a "normal" issue and what is an "adoptive" issue. Now that may have come in handy!
Our parenting transitions moved quickly. We went from fostering 2 boys, starting the adoption process for those 2 children as well as their sister; bringing another foster daughter into our home, bringing another son home with the hope of adopting him, and then deciding to adopt our second foster daughter as well, all in a matter of 3 years. It was almost like having quintuplets, only they weren't the same age and we didn't get a multi-million dollar tv deal out of it!
I am so glad that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom and enjoy the PTA moments, swimming at the pool every day in the summer, and volunteering in their class rooms. But as they grew older it was time to transition again. All of a sudden they were all in middle and high school, and before I knew it they were all teenagers at the same time! Five teenagers in one household ensures a house full of rough housing, laughter, and hormones! Throw into that mix teenagers dealing with adoption issues such as abandonment and biological families - whew; there have been moments I did not know if I would survive!
I must confess, in some ways I am not as good of a parent to teenagers as with younger children. I think that is why God made the plan to include two parents. Parents are to work together and compliment each other. My husband was not as good with the children when they were young, as he is now that they are teenagers and 21. We balance each other. I have a completely new respect for single parents now that I have been doing it with a partner!
And now our transition has brought us to being the parent of a young adult - 21. He was the oldest child, coming into our home at the age of 6. He has struggled the most so far with his transitions. That is not to say none of the others have struggled. I feel compasion for him as he tries to sort out getting to know biological family. It has been hard, and will continue to be hard until he is able to understand he will never get the answers he wants to hear. We wish we could take this painful time away from him, but we can't. We can be assured that God is there with him, as we pray for him constantly.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century philosopher, coined the phrase "what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger." How true this is. I made many choices growing up, many of them bad, but those choices have made me into the person I am today. I remind myself of this as I see my children transition to teenagers and young adults. I am anxious to see the adults they become.