13 Years Later
I Was Thinking…
Thirteen years ago today we successfully navigated the U.S. adoption process, the Russian adoption process, and then a Russian courtroom to finally be awarded custody of our beautiful daughters!
I chuckle as I look back and think both about how excited we were, but also how hard we thought it was.Yes, we had challenges...the pages and pages of application we had to fill out, documents we had to acquire before we could even begin, the wait, 42 hour plane delays, search for the father, 9/11 - will we even be able to go?, the first adoption in the region, expenses, KGB, judges disappearing 20 minutes before court, and so much more. But we were in love; these were our daughters, and we went WAY out of our box to bring them home. No Matter What!
Reality is that the process was preparing us for the REAL parenting. Hard was yet to come! While I would not change a minute of the past 13 years, I have to say that they have been both thee most challenging, but at the same time one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done! After my marriage, the "labor," "delivery" and "raising" of all 6 of my children has been my fulfillment!
The girls were 3, 4 and almost 6 when we adopted them. Their luggage/baggage was full. By that age, they had experienced more fear, loss and deprivation than most adults in the U.S. ever do. The lows got really low. The highs were few and far between for many years. I finally realized my goal was to help us be at neutral as much of the time as possible...which is harder than you might think!
Neutral would create a new safe experience for the girls. But neutral had all kinds of implications for our life. Neutral meant changing a lot. It was hard. It made us feel different. It made our choices hard to understand. It eventually created more closeness inside of our little family, but along the way caused huge gaps in our other relationships. We made lots of hard choices to be the girls No Matter What parents. Honestly, many times we were mad about having to make them. It was not easy or pretty!
The past thirteen years are full of defining moments. Moments I'd rather forget because of the things I said, thought or did and beautiful moments of healing and realizations. I wouldn't change one thing. It has made us all who we are today.
Yes, a little more gray, a few too many pounds from stress eating, a little shell-shocked, but also more aware of the responsibility of the power we hold to uplift and also break down another person's very being with our every move both as parents and fellow human beings. The way I see others has been forever changed. These thirteen years have helped me heal my holes and to tweak the unrealistic expectations that came from those holes. The understanding that I must meet others where they are at because that is the best they have to give our relationship has been life changing. I am a better person for this journey. (There are days in the past 13 years I would have argued with myself about this, but looking back I know it is true) I am a better wife. I am a better mother. I am a better daughter. I am a better friend.
We have seen great healing! We still see the ramifications of loss sometimes. Mostly, it just lurks on the fringes and not at the core anymore, so that is good. The challenges are still biggest for our daughter who endured the most without us, but I feel confident we have given her a "one and only" and she didn't have that before. The lows are nowhere near as low and there are lots and lots of highs. Neutral is now the place where we come back to when we need to rest.
I couldn't be more proud or feel more love for my three girls. I am excited to see what the next 13 years will bring. I work hard to remember what I have learned...I have to be careful about my next set of expectations. But I'll share my secret expectations with you - I dream of being surrounded by my kids and grandkids experiencing all the ups and downs of life TOGETHER!
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