Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dear Sugar: To the New Mom-By-Adoption, Here's Some Encouragement

Dear Sugar:

How are you doing?  If you're anything like I was almost nine years ago, you're feeling conflicted. You're enjoying your baby, but you're also nervous.  You're a new mom, and not just any new mom, but a new mom by adoption.  That comes with extras:  extra pressure, extra expectations, extra considerations.   And honestly, it's overwhelming and can be unnerving.   

Me snuggling my brand new (oldest) baby.
As a mom of four, all of whom came to us by domestic, infant, transracial, open adoption, I want to offer you some encouragement.   Because I've been where you are.   And I know it's not easy.

Let's first get this out of the way:  there are high expectations of you.   These are put on you by yourself, by the adoption community, by your family, by your friends and co-workers, by strangers. It's expected that you be overjoyed.  That you are a great mom.  That you relish in sleepless nights and diaper blowouts, because you've waited so long to become a mommy.   

But motherhood, no matter how it comes to you, is difficult.  There's not guidebook.  There's no map. There's no magic 8 ball.  There's no genie in a bottle.   And if you find yourself struggling with any area of motherhood (not having time to shower, a harsh word from a friend, maternity leave, etc.), you are NORMAL.  And you are not alone.   

Here's what I want you to know:  

Be both humble and confident.  

Humility comes by accepting the suggestions, advice, and encouragement (yes, encouragement!) from the people who matter. Who are those people?   They are fellow moms-by-adoption, they are people who racially match your child, they are people who are on "your team" (the ones who want you to succeed and enjoy motherhood), they are adoptees.  Know what true humility is:

Confidence comes with time and experience.  You know, good things come to those who wait. Confidence isn't prideful or egotistical.  No.  Confidence is strength, joy, and peace.    

Reject the Super Parent Syndrome.

Those of us who adopt are often revered in society.  We are saviors.  We are the ones who swooped in and saved the babies who needed "a good home."  Our children are "lucky":  lucky to be adopted.   We must reject these things.   Because one, we aren't saviors:  we're just parents who chose to grow our families by adoption.  And, because our children aren't the lucky ones:  WE ARE the lucky ones, lucky enough to have been chosen to parent our children.    

And the main reason we must reject Super Parent Syndrome:   oh how the mighty fall!   Being put on a pedestal means we have A LOT to live up to.  We will never feel like enough.  We won't be content. We won't relish in being parents.  Instead, we will work and struggle, every moment of every day, to not fall of the pedestal.   
Turn away from critics who distract you from your job and your joy.  

Accepting suggestions and advice from experienced individuals is one thing (and it's necessary), but accepting criticism from haters, letting that fester within you, and put a damper on your day:  well, that's your own silly fault!   Often this stems from "support" groups online (insert eye roll and sprinkle the drama like confetti), from someone who has no clue about about adoption (race, ability, etc.), and even strangers.  This is when I need you to remember what I taught you.   First, you can choose not to respond at all:  which is more powerful than responding.  Second, if someone is relentless or you feel you MUST reply, remember the five magic words?   

Speak the words.  Walk away.  Your job is to mother your child, which is what you were chosen to do, not defend your decisions. 

I know it's not always easy to do these things.  The best things in life usually are the most difficult.   

Remember:  your obligation is to your child and your family.  Keep it simple.   And ENJOY your new motherhood.  The old ladies at the grocery store are right:  time really does fly by.   

For more encouragement on the journey, check out my book:

(Amazon affiliate link)

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