I hate to spend a significant amount of time hanging out on the "adoptive mom soapbox," talking about what other moms could learn from someone like me. I'd much rather sit back and take advice from moms who have been at this game much longer than I have. However, I've realized that while some of the things every mom could learn from an adoptive mom aren't exclusive to our club, they're definitely amplified by adoption situations. Whether it's extra compassion or extra gratitude, adoption makes everything feel just that bit bigger, covering over some of the little nuisances or petty issues all moms deal with on a daily basis.
I didn't have strong feelings about birth moms or birth families before we decided to pursue adoption. In fact, I'm not sure I thought about them one way or another and very much at all. However, becoming an adoptive mom turned me into not only a huge advocate for adoption, but also a huge advocate for all of us being more compassionate, flexible, and thoughtful to those around us.
Adopting our daughter hasn't made us judgmental of women who choose to have their children adopted. Actually, it has done the polar opposite. It has opened my eyes to sides of situations I never would have had to encounter otherwise, and those situations have forced me to grow as a mom (which isn't something that I take for granted, knowing how easy it is to fall into survival mode instead). So, with that in mind, here are just a few things adoptive moms can teach every other mom under the sun.
Sadly, we didn't get the chance to meet our daughter's birth mom; she had already left the hospital when we arrived to meet our girl. I know a few details about her and wish often that we could have known her, but mostly I know that I feel more compassion for her and women in her situation than I ever could have if we weren't on the receiving end of her decision.
Whether a mom has it all together (or at least seems to) or needs extra help, we all have struggles and stories that are valid and valuable.
How To Let It Go
When you sign on to be an adoptive mom, you immediately check your need to know and control everything at the door. Family medical history? Don't have it. Prenatal care? Haven't a clue. But we knew the moment we saw a photo of our daughter that she was ours forever and the rest we'd just have to let go.
When she's sick, we've often wished we knew more about her medical history, just in case it could reveal something, but truthfully it hasn't much mattered that it's out of our control. Sometimes fussing over the unknown just gives you something to worry about, but really doesn't get you anywhere.
How To Think Before You Speak
This might be the biggest thing that changed about me when we adopted our daughter. Before becoming an adoptive mom, I was quick to judge and quick to speak, putting my foot in my mouth often enough. Now, I know the stakes are higher and words can carry so much weight. I know how often I think about the woman who saw me in the grocery store and immediately asked if my daughter was adopted, making me wonder who else in the grocery store looks at us and thinks the same thing. It wouldn't hurt any of us to have a more long-term thought process before saying something that might ring in another mom's ears for months to come.
How To Let Outside Opinions Roll Right Off
Because there's always gonna be somebody who doesn't think before they speak, learning to let those words roll right off you instead of sneaking into your head is a must for all moms ( and if we're going to keep our sanity in the long term).
hat Love Makes A Family
Families are weird. They just, well, are. They're dads and moms or just dads or just moms or all dads or all moms or even grandmas and aunts and uncles. They're different colors and abilities and cultures all molded together. Becoming an adoptive mom reminded me that the basic building block of family is the most important: love. It doesn't matter what else is going on, love makes a family.
Adoption Shouldn't Be Scary
It's not for everyone, but it's also not as scary as some horror stories and stereotypes make it seem. Someone's cousin's girlfriend's sister is always going to have a disastrous story to share, but that's not the norm. Adoption is beautiful and can be totally drama free in many cases.
Ours couldn't have been more straightforward and simple, and there are definitely more situations like ours out there.
We're All A Lot Braver Than We Think
Think you couldn't adopt because you're not brave enough? Think again. I don't think I know any moms who don't have an extra reserve of bravery they can break out when going gets tough. Adoptive moms just had to uncover some of it a little earlier in their motherhood journeys.
Big, Big Gratitude
I can't say I don't complain about how hard motherhood can be sometimes, I definitely do. However, I think generally adoptive moms feel an immense gratitude that colors the big picture of parenting. Some of this has to do with adoptive moms sometimes struggling with fertility before adopting, but it's also the great privilege of being entrusted by another mom to raise her child that gives everything a little extra slice of gratitude.