Today is an exciting day for my family. It’s the one year anniversary of the adoption of my twin boys. Anyone who has followed this journey from the beginning can attest to the highs and lows along the way, and how much relief my family and I experienced putting to rest an emotionally turbulent two year stent, fully invested in that end.
The year 2020 for most people has been difficult up to now, and the remaining months promise further uncertainty. My household has been no exception and, as a father, I can’t help but join in the worry about everything from civil unrest to pandemic level sickness. But 2020 aside, I wanted to tell you a little about post-adoption life.
My situation is uncommon to say the least. That is to say that the odds of a single man deciding to get licensed as a resource family (foster care provider), with the intent to adopt, receiving as a first placement a set of healthy twin boys of only 18 month of age at the time, and then to have that become a successful adoption, has got to be astronomically low in the spectrum of possible outcomes. This is not wasted on me, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am blessed.
For about eight months we took in another foster child. A beautiful little girl, also 18 months old at the time. And, as much as I would have liked to have been her permanent home, the addition of another child made clear my limits as an individual. Ultimately, she ended up with a wonderful family, long time friends of my own family, who are nearing the end of the adoption process with her. I have no doubt in my mind that this is the ideal placement for her, and I’m excited to watch her grow up in a strong, stable home full of people who absolutely adore her.
Once the transfer was made, however, we began to move into a more structured routine, absent the looming fear and uncertainty that we had previously shouldered; replaced, of course, with the normal fear and uncertainty experienced by all parents in regards to the wellbeing of their children. Amplified, perhaps, by the trials of 2020. My boys tell me (often thirty to forty times a day), “I love you, Daddy.” It is one of the greatest things to hear (in moderation) from the children you would do anything to protect and provide for. They are strong, healthy four-and-a-half year olds, with beautiful blue eyes to accent their ever-growing, razor-straight blonde hair. They love The Avenger’s, Lego, ruining their shoes, and riding their bikes.
And, eating twice their bodyweight in food each day.
I’ve started a college savings 529 plan, which they both hope to use to become members of the Avengers one day. Hopefully, we won’t still be distance learning by then. But, if there’s one thing I can say with certainty, it’s that this is all going very fast. The time from when I buckled their tiny, frightened bodies into fresh car seats in the back seat of my truck, until today, feels like a blur and I just want it all to slow down. Mostly I want this year back, as it has been a total loss in terms of enjoying the fun things, like family trips to zoos and parks. Other than one camping trip, we’ve lost out, like so many others, on those much needed highlights. I truly hope that 2021 goes back to some sense of normalcy.
The other day, while rifling through old photos taken over the past couple years, I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction. It presented itself, not so much as a feeling of accomplishment, although I believe that would be well earned, but more as a sense of completeness. Like a vacant space in a complex puzzle had been patched with the appropriate piece, creating a picture of life, previously obscured and lacking. And, even though my family was built in a far less traditional way, that it was always meant to go this way. It was a feeling of having no regret, coupled with a deep appreciation and acceptance for all the failures, missed opportunities and mistakes that lead me here. It felt like meaning and purpose. Far beyond anything I’ve ever achieved from success in business and relationships, both past and present.
Parenting is hard in so many ways that I’m going to forego mentioning any of them. Every day I see areas where other’s far surpass me in patience, grace and poise. Looking at a plate of fish sticks and macaroni, wondering if this is the best I could be doing in terms of their diets, for instance. Or being made aware of other children who know their ABC’s completely, and wondering if I’m capable of managing their education with everything else I’m juggling at a given time. I am not perfect. Having kids is like being examined under a microscope, where all your imperfections appear magnified by the little people you are fully responsible for the development of. But even with that, I can honestly say that I’ve been pushed to my limits in more ways than I knew possible, and still feel absolutely certain that the decision I made in August of 2017 was the number one best decision and defining moment of my life.
All of this is to say that the odds of mirroring my experience are low. Phenomenally so. But if it resides within you to be a part of the solution needed by a staggering number of children in every community, do it. Your experience will very likely be different. But, it will just as likely be uniquely beautiful, and you may be rewarded in the greatest way imaginable, when a child much in need of your love tells you once (or thirty to forty times a day), “I love you!”
It is life changing.
But no anniversary recap would be complete without ending this with acknowledgments.
First and foremost, thank you to my children, Thomas and Cole, who have participated in all the growing pains alongside me and occasionally been the recipients of poor reactions from an exhausted dad, who carries the guilt of those reactions far longer than the memories are held against me. Thank you for your often undeserved smiles, hugs and kisses, and for being the best part of who I am.
Thank you to my mother and oldest sister, without whom working full time would be impossible. And thank you for picking up a lot of my slack in the raising of my children. You are truly life saving, week after week.
And, to the remaining members of my family who have embraced my children as though they were my own flesh and blood. Your relationship with my kids means more than you know.
Thank you to my employer, who has graciously provided me with a professional environment that allows me to be flexible with the unforeseen circumstances that present themselves from time-to-time. The last decade of stable employment has enabled me to provide the life I have for myself and my kids. You will always have my loyalty and my appreciation. If you are my employer, you know what that last sentence means.
To my co-workers, who have had to put up with my moods amidst the maddening process by which foster children are acquired and adopted. Thank you for making me look good, especially during the times when I had little energy left to support you in the way I would have liked. Your competency and work ethic allowed me the freedom to keep work in the workplace and focus on my kids during my absences.
And, last but not least, to my remaining friends who have assured me that I was insane and in desperate need of professional help for doing this as a single man, but who, regardless of this, have supported me through every step of the process. Even if it seemed minor at the time, it was often the very thing I needed to pick myself up and continue.