Sunday, December 5, 2010

Inner Strength and Hard Lessons

One of the things I have been struggling with while working with DCS has been my unwillingness to work with them before I had my Fifi and Buddy. I did go to an information meeting, but I quickly realized there was no way I would be able to do it. I couldn’t risk giving my heart to a child I might not get to keep. I wouldn’t risk my own broken heart, even to save theirs.

So I got on a plane and went far, far away to find the most “sure thing” adoption I could find. And I loved it. I loved Russia and the travel. I loved the people in Russia. I loved my babies’ squishy little cheeks and bobbly heads. And I really loved that the minute we lifted off the runway toward home when I knew they were mine forever.

If the dollar weren’t weak. If the cost of another adoption from Russia weren’t so out of control and out of reach. If I was independently wealthy, I’d go back. In a heartbeat. I say to myself that I wouldn’t. That the price is so high it boarders on child trafficking. But I know in my heart if I could do it, I would do it again. But I can’t. And I’ve made peace with that. Mostly.

But I worry too. My children have changed so much in my life…and fortified my heart. They have helped me understand that loving a child will always be a benefit to that child. Any time spent in a functional, loving environment will make a difference to them, even if that family isn’t theirs to keep.

But while I worry less about my heart break and I worry more about Fifi and Buddy. I’ve explained the differences to them. They understand about their birthmothers and they know they lived first in a baby house in Russia until I came for them. They understand the children who come to live with us may not stay…that in this country the children stay with families instead of in a baby house, until their families can care for them or new parents are found. They understand this in theory, but I am worried about how they will handle saying goodbye to a friend. And if they can embrace a new brother or sister after thinking of them as just a visitor.

But as I laid awake last night I remembered that my job as their mother—their adoptive mother in particular, is not only to teach them how to love. While it might not always seem so, learning to love someone is the easy part. The other thing I must teach them if they are to become happy adults with healthy relationships, is how to let go.

Parents teach this to children without ever really thinking about it. I mean, the entire gold fish and hamster industry exists so that kids are exposed to death. Why else would parents choose such fragile pets with short life expectancies? Why not a turtle or a parrot? Because you don’t want their first experience with death to be Grandma or Grandpa or even Great Aunt Mildred.

As much as I want to protect them from anyone and anything that might cause them pain, I know I can’t do that. Moreover, I know I SHOULDN’T do that. My children need to learn to handle the painful situations that come to every life without turning to drugs or alcohol or other unsafe behavior. They need to know they will feel pain, but it will subside in time. They need to learn to grieve, understand its okay to cry and in the end, learn to let go.

As much as I hate it, I need to allow them to find and cultivate their own inner strength because it will always be there for them—even when I won’t.

Being a foster family will do help me teach them an important life lesson...and help another child have a life.  Seems like a win-win situation to me.