It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since Hope moved in from her last foster home. In some ways it seems like it couldn’t possibly be that long; in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago.
I’m about 15 lbs. heavier, and I have a LOT more gray hair than I did back then. I have grown a lot. I’ve learned so much…about everything.
I learned that parenting is a lot about fake finding your way through the universe with only a vague road map based on your personal upbringing, values and resources. So much of it is just…wandering in the wilderness trying to keep kids alive and as close to thriving as you can get them.
For me, Hope and I dropping into each other’s lives…yeah, we’ve wandered a lot. We’re still wandering.
The wilderness is dark and thick for parents with kids who have experienced trauma and who have special needs. So much of what we endured post placement was confusing and just felt crazy in a never-ending way. I had tried to prepare myself for parenthood, but really, can you?
In a word, no.
So, I talked, wrote, reflected, talked with other parents, listened to a lot of folks, especially adoptees, got help wherever, however I could figure out how to cobble it together.
I also lashed out, withdrew, and apologized to a lot of people in my life, over and over again, including my daughter.
I eventually got the hang of things, as much as you can with parenting. I can’t say parenting has become any easier over these five years. There are always new challenges, new goals, new problems, new therapies, new stuff to find your way through. I figured out that the way I had powered through other things in my life, I would power through parenting too.
Hope and I have done so much in the time we’ve been together.
We’ve been to five kinds of therapy. We’ve both taken many meds for depression, anxiety, and mood stabilization. We have connected with birth family. We’ve tackled grief. We’ve resolved legal stuff from long before I came along. We’ve cried more tears than I ever dreamed. We’ve argued and screamed and cursed. We found tutors and tutoring programs; we quit those as well. Music classes came and went. Programs for teen girls, yep did that.
We also traveled to 10 states and 4 countries. We went to the theatre. We did a lot of sightseeing, a lot of edutainment. We read a lot of books, including going down the rabbit-hole romance sub-sub genre of interracial relationships featuring Black women and Asian men—because KPop. We went to a lot of concerts and movies. Our dining palates grew to try lots of new things. We raised a puppy after saying goodbye to my beloved Furry One. We have laughed and danced and stayed up late doing silly things together.
And now, somehow, some way, Hope and I have gotten to year five, and she will graduate in 116 days. We are waiting for decisions on her college applications. There are decisions to be made about the future, driver’s licenses to still get and just so much to still do. It’s really amazing.
Another five years from now, I’ll be in my early fifties and Hope will be in her early twenties. No idea what life will look like then. I’m sure that my parenting will continue to evolve; hopefully it will continue to improve. I’m hoping Hope will launch smoothly. I’m hoping that I’ll continue to reflect on this day that I became a parent, while it fades from my daughter’s memory. I just want it to be some day that happened, but that she moved on from. There are so many moments that stick out for her, big and small, painful and joyous, I’m okay with this day fading away for her.
I’ll remember though; I’ll always remember her emerging from security at the airport and stepping into my arms to give me a hug. It was a sweet and scary moment in time that has turned into such an amazing chapter in my life. I’ll always remember it.
About the Author: Adoptive Black Mom writes about her experience adopting and parenting as a single black woman on her blog, where this was originally published. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.