January 31 is our Adoption Day. This year it is our 8th! One thing I’ve learned is that every year it is always the same: the days leading up to it are hyper-emotional for me. It is hard for me to let that be what it is— I tend to be someone whose knee-jerk reaction to emotional things revolving around events in my own life is to push them aside in an irrational attempt to accommodate other people (the logic in my own mind is typically: ‘yes, I’m experiencing this, but Person-X-Y-Z has it soooo much worse!’ or ‘yes, I’m experiencing this, but Person-A-B-C has it soooo much better!’… which leads to pushing aside my own true emotions in order to shift the focus to someone else… I’m very good at it). If you don’t know me extremely well, this may come as a surprise. But trust me on this one: this is my Classic Mode Of Operation.
With our adoption, though, I have consciously and purposefully tried to change that in myself. In becoming a mother something shifted in me and the emotions of it all were so overwhelming — and the importance of it all was so intense — that I deliberately worked to not force my own emotions to the side. For the past eight years, especially, I’ve been working on this. It is becoming easier and easier as the years progress. To the point where now, in my 8th year of mothering, I am actually pretty comfortable with admitting that our Adoption Day puts me 100%, full-on, completely, and utterly, over the edge. I am an emotional wreck and I’m not afraid to admit it.
There are so many emotions for all of us who are intricately linked with adoption in one way or another. There is loss and gain, love and pain, joy and devastation, beauty and horror, relief and grief, hope and desperation, and all of it is together at once, and it is so intense if you let it be. I am trying to let it be. But it is hard to do.
The only thing I know for sure is that after everything I’ve been through on our adoption journey — and knowing I’ll go through so much more in the years to come — I am still a true believer in the pure miracle of adoption. Yes, it is hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. But for many of us — lucky for me, I am one of them — it is the most beautiful and good and right thing we’ve ever done with our lives. I count myself the lucky one for having had the chance to experience all that it is. It is a wide range of emotions, that is for sure. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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We are so fortunate to have our kids at a school that identifies strongly as progressive. It was such a pleasure for me (particularly because it was initiated by them) to receive an email from Kyle and Owen’s teachers expressing that they wanted to make sure our Adoption Day was acknowledged and celebrated in whatever way we saw fit. I asked the boys this year, “What do you want to do — in school — for our Adoption Day?” and they responded quickly and easily with their true desires. It makes me so proud that my sons are able to say what they want for themselves, especially around an emotional and deeply personal event.
Here is what they wanted— they wanted to combine their two classes for one school Adoption Day Celebration; they wanted me to come in and read their Adoption Day book (must read here for backstory on that) to all of their friends; and they wanted a “big huge cake!” It was clear, simple, and very easy for me to implement. It was awesome.
I made arrangements with their teachers, ordered a full-sheet-cake-size cake from our regular grocery store, and that was that. And today was the day. And it was one of the best little events in the lives of Kyle, Owen, and me. For real.
When I showed up with the cake all of the kids went wild. It doesn’t even matter if they like cake, just the idea of a big huge cake is enough to make a monumental impression. It means: a big huge deal celebration! I had made sure to ask the bakery department at our grocery store to put the words in bold print (not cursive) so the kids could easily read it. They read it. And they read it aloud over and over to each other: ” Celebrate Adoption! Adoption is Love!” I didn’t have to say a word, I just watched and listened to Owen and Kyle’s friends all ooooh and aaaaah over their Adoption Day cake.
I read the book. It is hard for me to read it — ever — without getting teary. I did a good job of not breaking down into sobs in front of all the first and second graders (K & O have combined 1&2 classrooms).
We all ate cake. I cut it and Kyle and Owen got to hand it out. And that was that. It was everything that Kyle and Owen wanted it to be. And then school was over, and we took the leftover cake home to give to our friends/neighbors/students in Sayre. It was — dare I say it?! — perfect. Perfectly exactly what my boys wanted… and, I guess, needed.
They needed to share that story and that celebration with the people in their lives who they spend every day at school with. In the same way that I need to share our story ( I blog it), they have their own ways of letting themselves be known. It is good.
They were beaming from start to finish, and I loved — and was able to truly feel — the beauty in their emotions. For them, at this point, adoption is complicated — yes — but more so it is simple: adoption is love. It is something to be celebrated.
They are not without truth, grief, sorrow, abandonment, questioning, always anchoring them. Yes, that is real. But — at least for now — it is even more real that adoption is to be celebrated. For all that it is good and hard and joy and pain, adoption is love.
Today was a really great day in the lives of my boys. I hope this post will help us remember it.
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Dear Kyle and Owen, I tell you often that January 31st 2005 was the single best day of my life. It is entirely true. You made me a mom, in exactly the way I wanted to become one. You are my dream come true. Happy Adoption Day to us! xoxoxo ~Mommy P.S. For the past five months you’ve dressed in un-matching outfits everyday, but this morning you came out of your bedroom dressed, very purposefully, in identical outfits for the first time since August; I am so glad you have each other; Today you did something brave in telling your story — and you did it together — and I am so very very very proud of you both for it.