I have heard a lot of different things by a lot of different people over the past eight years of our adoption journey.
Some of it has been practical.
Some of it has been encouraging.
Some of it has been inspirational.
But some of it has been hurtful.
You'll never hear me say older child adoption is an easy road. Because it's not. I've never been able to wrap our days or weeks or years up into pretty packages. Rather, I'm usually dragging in at the end of the day broken and bleeding and needing to apologize to someone.
That's just how it goes around here.
Does that mean I don't love these kids? Does that mean I have no business adding to my family through adoption? Does that mean these kids would have been better off in foster care?
I don't think so. Even on the days that look the worst.
Those who watch from the sidelines may pass judgement on your days. I'm not sure there is any way to stop it.
But remember this...
You have the whole story. You see the whole picture. You know the ins and outs of your day and your kid.
I hope those in your world season their words with grace. I hope when they offer advice, even advice that doesn't fit your situation, they do it in a loving way.
Because the alternative is pretty hurtful. I may have been there a time or two.
So what won't you hear me say?
You won't hear me say you're doing it all wrong, because you're not. After all, I don't live in your house, I don't know what it's like to spend every waking moment with your new little one. I won't act like I do. Never lose sight of the fact that you are doing something most people will never attempt. It's emotionally exhausting, physically draining and I applaud you for waking up every morning to do it again.
You won't hear me say you don't love your kids, because you do. Love is a choice. Sometimes choosing love takes every single ounce of strength you have. Sometimes it looks different than others think it should. Sometimes how it looks that day is the best you have.
You wont' hear me say that my experience mirrors yours, because it doesn't. Every family is different. Every child is different. I may have raised a ten-year-old, but I've not raised your ten-year-old, especially if your ten-year-old's first nine years were full of insecurity and trauma. If you ask me, I'll share our journey, but I won't force my opinion and I won't say I know best. Our stories may be similar, but that doesn't make me an expert on your family or your kids.
That's what you won't hear me say, but here's what you will hear me say...
You will hear me say, you can do it, even if everyone else, including you, thinks you can't. I believe in you. The moment your foot hit the adoption path you became my hero. I refuse to see you as anything less than that, even on the days you want to give up.
You will hear me say, I'm here to help, in whatever way you need. I don't know what would be the biggest help to you on any given day, so I'll ask you. If you don't know either then I might bring by a bouquet of flowers or an evening meal or some ear plugs.
You will hear me say, I'm your friend. I will listen to you. I will cry with you. I will rejoice with you. But I will not judge you, even on your worst day. Your journey is uniquely your own and it will have valleys that I won't understand. I won't pretend that I do.
I'll just be your friend. Because on the darkest days of my journey it wasn't the advice or opinions I needed, it was understanding and encouragement and shared tears.
I'm your friend, I'm here to help and you can do this. That's my mantra.