When we officially adopted our three kids back in May, our family turned a corner into a new normal, one without CPS oversight and one with a whole lot less in our schedule. No more social worker visits or attorney visits or inspections or court hearings. No more medicine logs or doctor appointment paperwork. Suddenly, following a few words said by a judge, we were a regular, normal family.
We began to settle into that and it began to sink in. I went through a phase of not blogging because I felt like suddenly we were so normal I didn't have much to write about in this foster care and adoption realm. But normal is relative, maybe surface level, maybe based on appearance. I began to think through experiences I was having while parenting my children and found myself thinking things like "Normal families don't have to deal with this and that" or "A normal mom wouldn't feel the need to think through that particular thought process." I was becoming aware of the fact that, though our family may appear normal now and be afforded all the privacy and perks of any legal family in our state, we will never be the same kind of normal as non-adoptive families.
I got to thinking about adoptive families out there in this world and how their own internal normal in their home may differ so much from other families who have not walked the same road.
The parents who run each bad behavior through an analysis of "Is this because of trauma or is this because he's a toddler?"
The mom making sure therapy options for her young daughter jive with her adoption assistance plan.
The family whose vocabulary regularly includes phrases like "first mom", "other dad", "where I lived before", "in my third family"...
The mama calmly clasping little hands in hers as her child intentionally and violently scratches her.
The parents packing up toys and snacks for their annual visit with their kids' first parents.
The dad hurrying across the hall to do his best to calm a night terror.
The mom seeking counseling for herself to help her face her children's challenges with grace and resolve instead of rage and surrender.
The parent managing a plethora of psychotropic medications for their child to combat the effects of prenatal drugs.
The sweet family who prays for their kids' birth mom every night.
The aunts or uncles or extended family who struggle to bond with kids suddenly plopped into their lives.
The child marking milestones...more days in this home than elsewhere, more days adopted and stable than floating from home to home.
To the adoptive families that may appear normal but feel anything but... I have walked this road, the one that looks easy enough at first glance but ends up having pot holes and bumps and erosion and a few locked gates to navigate that other people may not see or understand. Dear families, persevere. Persevere in loving your children, in winding your way down that tricky road, in finding your new normal, in embracing it. I see you. I understand you. I am you.