Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dear Sugar: On Humbleness in Adoption

Dear Sugar:

Tell me I'm not the only one who does this...

I go to the grocery store armed with my coupons, reusable bags, and a long list.  I'm usually accompanied by at least one of my four children. 

I get all the groceries, filling the cart.  Then I zig-zag around the store with rapidly decreasing energy at least two more times for everything I forgot or skipped before.   

I make it to the checkout.   I slide the items on the conveyor belt while asking one or two or three of the children NOT to touch the gum packets and trashy magazines.   The cashier rings everything up, I hand over my coupons, and then I pay.   Then the moment comes.

"Would you like help out to your car?" asks the person who bagged my groceries.   

Before the question is even fully uttered, I interrupt with a a clear, loud, and insistent, "No, thanks." 

Then I smile (see how confident I am?), and push my cart forward...slowly.  Because I'm trying to edge kids to the door while pushing a really, really freaking heavy grocery cart into a bumpy parking lot (usually in the rain, because why would it NOT spontaneously rain when I go to buy groceries?).

When we make it to the minivan, there's the struggle of trying to use the automatic doors WHILE children are pulling on door handles.   Once the kids are safely inside the van, I open the trunk to place the groceries inside.  Only to find that I forgot to remove the stroller that takes up the entire trunk space.  So then I'm left stuffing groceries in whatever crevice I can find while the rain pours down upon me.  I shove the empty cart into the adjoining cart corral and jump into the driver's seat of the van.

Wet.  Irritated.  Tired.  

But I will not be deterred.  

When I get home, I tell the kids to go inside, and I proceed to attempt to carry every single grocery bag, no matter how heavy or how full or how fragile the bags are, into the house ALL AT ONCE.   Because why in the world would I make two trips from my van, which is just two steps away from the door into the house?...and yes, we're in the garage, so I'm longer getting rained on.

Why?  Why not accept the offer of the grocery bagger?  Why not unload the car bag by bag vs. all at once?   

It's called stubbornness, and efficiency, and a whole lot of other things.  But it's all just pride in a bad disguise.  

And it's ridiculous.   

I'm active in the adoption community and have some years of experience under my belt.  I see it time and time and time again:  the DIY hopeful parent or mama-by-adoption (already parenting) who wants to do it all herself.

Sure, she'll post an occasional question in an adoption FB group full of strangers.   But she's pretty much flying solo, because she's spent SO long trying to become a mom.   She doesn't want to rely on anyone to do something for her or on her behalf. 

I talk about this in my first book Come Rain or Come Shine, in chapter three:  Super Parent Syndrome.   In short, parents who adopt are put on a pedestal (by themselves, their agency, the biological parents, friends and family, strangers, the media, etc.) which puts SO MUCH PRESSURE on them to be everything.  This leads to pride.   

And remember that thing about pride?   It goeth before the fall.   (Prov. 16:18.)  

How many times have you successfully carried in all the groceries at once without damaging at least one item?  Without a bag breaking?  Without banging into a nearby wall?   Without feeling the pull of your arm muscles and the ache in your back, not just in that moment, but probably the next day, too?


When a Black mom approaches you and offers a suggestion for your daughter's hair, consider.   When an adoptee tells you that isolating your child of color in an all-White community is dangerous for his well-being, listen.  When a birth mother you meet is aching for a photo of her biological child and you remember you forgot to send an update to your child's birth parent last month, take note.  

Stop hesitating and re-positioning yourself on the pedestal.    Find your child a mentor.   Go to the adoption support group meeting.   Read the book.   

It boils down to humility.

Do the stuff.   

It's all for your child who depends on you to make the right choices, do the right things, meet and invite in the right people.   

Yes, agreeing to let someone else help with the "heavy lifting" is going to require some bravery.  But the trade-off is peace, empathy, wisdom, and hope.    

What's the alternative, Sugar?   Remember, Proverbs warns us that pride = destruction.  And the first step is choosing pride.  If we elect to dance with pridefulness, we will inevitably engage in destruction.  

You've been chosen to parent your child, for whatever reason.  It is an honor, a privilege, and a serious task.  It's a blessing.   Be brave.  Have courage.   Get off the damn pedestal, no matter who or what put you on it, then kick the thing over.  Break it up with a big hammer.   Sweep away the shattered pieces...

and embrace the joy of having open hands, ready to receive the assistance that is waiting for you.  


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