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Friday, December 3, 2010

What I've Learned...

I've joked before about how the husband and I were absolutely the most ignorant prospective adoptive parents before we traveled to meet the Tongginator. We still don't have it all together, but as we prepare for our upcoming referral, I feel thankful we aren't quite as ignorant as we were the first go-around. So, without further adieu, what I've learned since becoming a momma through adoption...

People are not color-blind. Love is not color-blind. If you ignore someone's race, you are ignoring a large part of his or her identity.

Dancing in my living room with a giggling child is immeasurably more fun than dancing in a club.

The world is a very big place. And I? I am just a minuscule dot on the face of it.

Several weeks before potty training, you will pray to all who is holy that your child will go pee pee on the toilet. Several days after potty training, you will miss diapers and wonder why, oh why you ever wanted your child to train.

Saying words like pee pee and poo is totally normal. Even though it's pathetic.

Adoption is much more complicated than I initially thought, both in process and in the living of it.

As much as we want our children to succeed, there is a difference between guiding them so that they can achieve their full potential and stealing from their future. No matter how smart, athletic, beautiful, charming, whatever your child is... let your kid be a KID.

Birthparents "in the shadows" are still very much present. And that fact leads me to say to my Tongginator so many "I don't knows," it makes my heart hurt.

Sound effects are highly useful when parenting young children, and boys of all ages. Sound effects help motivate children to move when they don't wish to move and to be still when they've got the wiggles.

Speaking of wiggles, The Wiggles quite probably arrived because Satan decided parents needed to experience a little more hell on earth.

Being a Mean Mom isn't all that bad of a goal.

Adopting transracially makes your family highly public. You and - most importantly - your child are going to have to field questions, deflect rude comments and generally learn to navigate a public life. Even if you are an introvert. Even if your child is an introvert.

It's important to laugh more and clean less. Just because.

Children are treasures on loan to us; adoption really, truly teaches that lesson quickly and fully. I learned early on that the Tongginator doesn't belong to me - she belongs to God and to herself. This influences my parenting in more ways than I can share, with the most simple explanation being that I hold her loosely by the hand. I strive to keep my grip comforting and protective, but still flexible enough to allow her to be fully herself.

My Rolodex and cell phone contacts list so completely changed.

The prayers of a child can completely wreath your face in smiles or completely cause you to fall to your knees. Neither is a bad thing, but sometimes the latter hurts.

What have you learned?


Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

"Children are treasures on loan to us; adoption really, truly teaches that lesson quickly and fully. I learned early on that the Tongginator doesn't belong to me - she belongs to God and to herself. This influences my parenting in more ways than I can share."

I have thought this SO many times myself. In a weird way, this aspect of adoption makes me a better parents. I'm not sure how to articulate it, but I think it allows me to let them just "be who they are", without as many projections or expectations.

Buckeroomama said...

Having children humble us all. In so many ways.

Aww, don't knock The Wiggles. I, uh, kinda like them. *She whispers* There are worse kinds of tortures out there. :)

LucisMomma said...

"Adoption is much more complicated than I initially thought, both in process and in the living of it."

That is so true. I'm glad I didn't know it would be so hard beforehand, because I would have panicked more. Sorta like marriage... if I knew how hard it was going to be, I don't know if I would have gone through with it (major stepchildren issues, ugh!).


Keating Mom said...

"Adoption is much more complicated than I initially thought, both in process and in the living of it."
Amen! And so many people just don't get that!

Aus said...

We'd been parents for going on 20 years when we adopted for the first time....we thought we had it figured out...heh....so much for that one....

I didn't realize how we ALL have wounds - we're just skilled at hiding them.....parenting an adopted child put's that elephant right in the room with you....and if you feed it, love it, and play with it - the elephant become a pet, not an issue! (Yeah it can still be a challange to clean up after - but cleaning up after those you love is easier!!)

I DO miss being invisible in the world - I used to be but now (at least when one or more of the kids are with me) I stick out like a sore thumb - ah well....

hugs - aus and co.

Number 6 and no more counting! said...

I have learned that my children are, my favourite thing!

Great post!


Briana's Mom said...

I never knew just how public life was going to get after adopting Miss B. I definitely know now.

Since Briana came home, the biggest thing I have learned is that I still have an insurmountable amount to learn about parenting in general and parenting an adopted child of a different race.

I also learned what it feels like to have my heart walking around outside my body.

Laurie said...

I've learned that figuring out the 'intent' behind things people say is important, and that managing my immediate desire to cut stupid comments off at the knees is hard work.

I've been surprised by people over and over - both by how very supportive some people are (including some surprising ones), and how non-supportive others may be.

I've learned that it turns out that there's nothing funnier than singing "If You're Happy and You Know It."

I've learned that it is possible to do things you never dreamed out of the sheer force of the love you feel for one tiny little person.

autumnesf said...

Great list that I can echo almost exactly. Although I do give credit to our agency for working to prepare us more than the norm at the time. They did a good job. But all the training in the world doesn't sink all the way down in your soul and make it real until you are standing in the shoes and living the life. At least the head knowledge is there even if it hadn't reached the heart yet.

Raina said...

Hello my friend. Long time no comment.

I've learned that attaching to an adopted child is very different than attaching to a bio child, and there's no shame in that. There's no shame in any of the many differences between our adopted kids and our bio kids, and ignoring the differences is dangerous.

I've learned that 4 kids is no harder than 3 kids. And that 5 kids would break me.

I've learned the value of a good support system.

I've learned to be even more selective in choosing my battles.

Raina said...

One more, and probably the biggest and hardest:

We can't take the hurt away. Our job isn't to fix their pain, it is unfixable, but to help them learn to carry it. It is a lesson I am learning from both ends, and it is crushing.

Tricia said...

After reading that post, I agree with you, being a 'Mean Mom' isn't that bad of a goal, in fact I would add, it is a great one! By the time they are teenagers, having let them do all things like everyone else really makes it hard to teach them to be an individual. So, in addition to letting her hold on to being small, you are also helping her to not choose the way of the crowd when she gets older. One phrase I have never heard from my 15 & 14yo is, "But everyone else is doing it!" I think that partially lies in the fact that I parented them so differently from 'everyone else' for their whole lives and as they grew they heard me defend my choices to those around me. You are doing a great job!

Patricia/NYC said...

One of my biggest lessons, on the brink of Miss K turning 6 this coming Monday: BE IN THE MOMENT!!!!

Time goes waaaaaay too fast to "hurry up & move on to the next milestone"...


discombobulated said...

beautiful post

Wendy said...

Still learning every day!

Some of the biggies:

You do not own your children. Every single day, from the moment of birth, they take tiny steps away from dependence on you and toward independence. Instead of fearing that and hanging on for dear life, provide guidance, love, and suppport, but let them go with your blessing and be grateful that you are raising/have raised self confident, self efficient, independent thinkers who one day will be taking care of you and the rest of the world.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

At every developmental stage "the small stuff" means something else.

If you expect others to accept that your family is unique and different (i.e. multi-racial, for instance) you must accept the diversity in others. And that means your child's friends (unless, of course, that "diversity" includes direct harm to your child).

Sometimes it's not about adoption, it's just about your child being 2 or 9 or 17. No matter what your child is going through though, be there.

Don't ever do anything with the expectation of being thanked (this applies to teenagers mostly). Do it because in comes from your heart.

Never assume that someone is a poor parent based solely on the behavior of his/her child. One day your child may do something that flies in the face of all you've taught him or her, and you'll be eating crow. Big time.

Homemade cards, hugs, and kisses are the best gifts you will ever receive.

kitchu said...

again, one of your most poignant posts. i love what you say about our children being on loan to us, my mom once said something similar and you are so right that adoption boldly declares that truth.

i will think on what i have learned and taken from the experience so far. it's a lot to put in a comment, you know?

mama2roo said...

I love this! Thank you TM!

lmgnyc said...

What have I learned?

The more I think I know, the less I really know I know.

Get your head around that.

Oh, and a new pair of shoes makes everything right in my daughter's world.

really really.

Dawn said...

I have learned (sadly) that the very same people who seemed to love your beautiful little child (of a race other then white) can see your growing up teenager as a threat and dangerous. I have learned that this is true racism...

I have learned that loving your child does not mean it will be all sunshine and roses and a happy ending.... It means you love until you think you are all emptied out. And then you find some more...No matter what.

I have learned that my child's crazy laughter is better then gold!

I have learned what the word blessing is really all about.

April said...

I have learned that so many people hate adoption. But in that I have also learned that it's not my job to change everyone's mind or convince them that we as a family did the right thing. That's God's job either way. If he uses my writing in that-I praise Him. If He doesn't and I'm writing for an audience of one-I praise Him anyway.

I've learned that adoption is not just about one single moment, but about a lifetime of commitment.

I've learned that my instincts weren't always right in the beginning. Because my instincts? Were sometimes more about me than about my daughter.

Ok, I've got so many of these lessons learned I'm just going to do my own post and tag you in it TM!!!


Gwen said...

Another excellent post!

I am also learning that "children are treasures on loan to us..." I love your thoughts on this.

I am learning to ENJOY the MOMENT. Kids grow up much, much too fast.

I have learned to never, never give up. Keep pressing forward, and do the best I can. Also, I try to remember to forgive myself.

prechrswife said...

I've learned that my whole theory of nature vs. nurture...totally wrong. Our girl's personality was set by the time we met her at 9 months. She is headstrong, active, talkative, and loud. The rest of us in our household are not. We wouldn't have her any other way, though. :-)

I was looking back at some of our paperwork the other day, and thought when we were in the process that we were relatively well-informed and prepared. Then I read some of my questionnaire answers from our homestudy. Boy was I ignorant about a lot of things...

Kristi said...

So laughing out loud about the Wiggles. I think Barney fits into that category too...

And being a minuscule dot on the face of the earth? I so have a blog post I need to write on that subject. Bug me until I get it published...

The Byrd's Nest said...

Ditto to Raina's comment. And I have had to say so many "I don't know's" to Lottie so far and it breaks my heart every time. She longs for more information, I can see it in her eyes.

cw said...

Another fabulous post- you may have inspired me to do my own- if I get any time to put together a coherent thought this weekend that is.....

Suzy said...

I've learned that God must have a crazy sense of humor, and I suspect He gets at least a daily chortle out of watching me try to parent Lydia. I've asked myself more times than I can count, "WHAT made you think you could do this?" She IS a force of nature, and I'm meek. Being her mom is stretching me and making me grow in directions I never would have imagined or chosen, but I think this is EXACTLY what God wants me to do. Oh, the humility my beloved daughter is teaching me! And the very best part is that I don't even mind learning these things (most of the time)just because she's with me.

Anonymous said...

I've learned that I should have known about all the fantastic women out there writing about these issues for example - You.

Debbie said...

This list brought a smile to my face and a chuckle! Yes, most of us have been there whether by adoption or not. And the potty training? You are so right!

Canada to China and back! said...

So true! I love this post! You are a wise wise woman! I think my older kids think my goal in life is to be as mean as possible oh and ruin their lives! lol! And now my 11 yr old says I am lame when I dance around the kitchen....but the girls still think I'm A o.k for now ;)


Annie said...

I LOVE dancing around my kitchen or my den or where ever, as long as my kids are dancing with meand the music is loud:) A lot of what I have learned about adoption, I have learned from you:) Great post TM!