After all of the dust settled around our decision to adopt, and to adopt our daughter, specifically, the lovely, helpful, generous, understanding folks at our agency told us a few things. And one of them was:
“Don’t expect everything to go completely smoothly. Expect bumps in the road and prepare for them.”
Now, I am probably what you’d call an optimistic realist. I try to look on the bright side, but I completely “got” what they were saying: no two adoptions are alike (much like no two pregnancies) but there are the general good and bad you can be on the look-out for. So while my heart ached each time the Polar Vortex slowed down delivery of a document or closed a government office (sometimes TWICE) I got it. I understood. I hadn’t expected the crappiest winter the Northeast has seen in FOREVER the year I am trying to bring my child home, yeah, but like they said: expect it.
But there’s really so much more I didn’t expect:
I didn’t expect to love my husband even more, but I do.
I didn’t expect to become this floppy, public-crying, sack of heart, but I am.
I didn’t expect to randomly wonder if Yu Yu had a lunch that she liked, or fought with a friend today, or felt lonely for no reason at all.
I didn’t expect to have dreams about my daughter, such vivid, detailed dreams, that she may as well have been sitting in front of me, then waking up, knowing that particular space in my heart was still waiting for a Yu-shaped piece.
One of the truly wonderful things I didn’t expect: the people. The other parents, the agency employees, the volunteers. The moms. Oh, the adoptive moms. I have hugged and cried with so many women I may have nothing in common with: except, except, except, our children are waiting on the other side of the world for us. There is a shorthand that goes beyond all of the acronym-laden “adoption-ese” that creates a quick connection
And here’s the thing. I generally like people, and I love more than a good handful. But most of these people are family or friends I’ve known forever, who lives, beliefs, choices, values, political leanings, families, tastes in pop culture (or lack thereof) are similar to mine. We laugh at the same YouTube videos (well, usually). We drink the same wines. We love the same restaurants. And we can tell that story about that time we did that thing, and it’s always, always hilarious.
Here’s a secret I learned, the most unexpected thing about this journey for me: it’s really easy to like people who are like you! Duh, right? But we all do it. I mean, life’s hard enough right? Why surround yourself with people you cannot be harmonious with?
I am not suggesting that just because a random person I meet is adopting they are suddenly going to be my new bestie. I have besties, and they are the best. What I am struggling to say is, adoption is the chance I get to see inside their hearts, past all of the other BS. I speak their language, so there’s no need to fear them, or dislike them, or generalize about a particular person, even if everything else about them is fully different than me.
And I am really grateful for that chance. For the chance to take my own blinders off, and maybe come towards people in a different way than I would have, if I had met them in a different context. It’s a bit embarrassing, actually, to admit this, to say, “Yep, I totally generalize about large swaths of the population, and even if I am not 100% about 100% of them, life’s not that simple, ‘kay?” This is a cause of some chagrin from this flaming liberal, I’ll admit it.
My daughter is helping me be a better, more thoughtful, more open-minded person, before I have even met her.
I didn’t expect that.