Being a parent is hard work. Having a child wake up more than three times between midnight and 4 a.m. after the age of two is not easy — especially when you can hear through the baby monitor that the hysterical crying is not a night terror, but instead is the fake cry that said child does with her cute little lip sticking out because she just wants to be hugged — which I did, btw. (I am not a bad mom… I swear). And getting less than three hours of sleep is not easy, and sometimes it is easier to choose frustration and anger rather than opt for feelings like calm and joy. I, too, have days when I am sitting in my bed at night after a long day, and I have to seriously think about what I did during the day that truly brightened the world. I have since started to write down things that I am proud of, and I’ve realized that I am hugely grateful to be an adoptive parent — for a variety of reasons. I hope these reasons can serve as a reminder to you — birth mom, adoptive mom, foster mom, pet mom, grandma, auntie, sister, cuz — that you are doing the best you can.
Childbirth? Honestly, I don’t really feel I missed out. When I was growing up, and when girls in high school and college and even in flight school started talking about having a family, I never ever saw myself being pregnant. I always saw myself just having a child. I mean, when my partner and I started seriously talking about a family, I knew I wanted children with him — but I never imagined childbirth. As an adoptive mom I have not had to experience childbirth — and if you have experienced both (childbirth and adoption), I know you know that not having to go through labor and delivery is something truly huge to be grateful for.
When complete strangers simply assume my daughter and I are blood related. When I am on the playground and someone walks up to me and compares a physical feature or mannerism in my daughter that is similar to myself or resembling my partner, I cannot help to smile. Usually said person says A* ‘has your hair’ — and I am grateful for that. I am grateful because they see similarities in us, and that is all I can hope for. I am grateful because a complete stranger (most times) chooses to assume we are blood related, and while, I am honored to be her adoptive mom, her birth mom gets credit, too.
On that note, I am grateful for A’s birth mom. I know that many adoptive moms don’t have this option. I am grateful that A’s birth mom chose us. I am grateful we get to have a relationship with her — as hard, uncomfortable, awkward, wonderful, loving and supportive it has been. We are lucky to be part of M*’s life, and again, that she chose us. So, if you are considering adoption, you are already choosing to expand into the unknown. Whatever happens — truly, truly choose it. Choose the disruptions as ways to grow and heal as a team with your partner or your community support system. Choose the match that goes through, the foster that turns into an adoption, or however your journey sounds or looks or feels.
Last but not least, I am grateful for the space adoption itself created. I am grateful for time exploring with my partner and now including our daughter in this exploration. We don’t know the answers, and we are accomplishing and failing every day, but we get to do it together. Our family has reached out when we needed support, and we have gotten it. In that same realm, when we have asked for space, we have received it. I am grateful for the chance to build confidence in myself, in my new parenting relationship with my partner, and now with A and our adoptive family.
Rest assured that no matter what, this parenting thing is hard. And if you haven’t shown gratitude for your current situation, whatever it may be, do so because it is here, and it is your reality. It may be hard sometimes, but it is here. As for adoption, we chose this path. And in the end, would you have it any other way?
*Author has chosen to withhold names in order to respect the privacy of those mentioned.
About the Author
Kathryn Thomas is the Executive Director of Yoga 4 Change as well as the CEO of ANAMAR Environmental Consulting, Inc. After being medically separated from the United States Navy in which she served as a Naval Aviator, she began studying to become a Yoga teacher through the Yoga School of Kailua. Upon moving to Jacksonville, Florida, she witnessed the need for mental, emotional, and physical healing in her new community and started Yoga 4 Change to fill this void. Kathryn has training in multiple disciplines including Power Yoga, Chair Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Yoga Nidra. Kathryn formerly sat on the board of the Yoga Service Council, where she served as the project manager and contributed to two of the Best Practice Book Series: Yoga with Veterans, and Yoga in the Criminal Justice System. Kathryn resides in Florida with her husband, daughter and their two Labrador Retrievers.