Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Plan

I’m one of those people who needs to know… well, everything. When something comes up in my life, or something interests me, I research it to death. I’ll track down information from all view points and think about it and talk about it until I own it. Then if someone asks me, say… what I think about hybrid cars, I can watch their eye glaze over as I spew forth 20 minutes of condensed and well considered opinion about the matter. *Why yes, I AM a lot of fun a parties!*

Living my life this way has a tendency to get me into trouble. For example, when I was pregnant with Cookie I knew I wanted a homebirth. Princess’s birthcenter birth was very long beautiful but there were things about it I didn’t like. So, I read, I researched, I thought about it for YEARS, and when it was time for baby number 2, I had the PERFECT plan. I had the perfect homebirth birth plan. Yes people! I had a plan for birth; that is how anal I can be. And you know what? Everything in that birth went EXACTLY like I planned. You could put a perfect little check mark next to each and every tiny little desire, BUT… (and we all knew that was coming right?) that birth was NOTHING like what I expected. I could take into account lighting and music and food and birth tubs. I could plan for birth position and who was allowed to speak, (NOT Zman) but I couldn’t plan for the emotions. I couldn’t foresee how I would feel and where I would be in my head and that is where things really deviated from the plan.

I always say that Cookies birth was exactly like I planned but nothing like I expected. Life is full of the unexpected. You would think that such a … memorable example would have shot the lesson home, but no, I’m much too stubborn for that.

So, when we started planning for our adoption, I read, I researched, I thought about it for YEARS, and when it was time for baby number 3, I had the PERFECT plan. I knew everything there was to know about international adoption. I read every book that every expert recommended. I read all the hard stuff about unhappy adult adoptees, and all the happy stuff about forever families. I read about raising a black child and having a transracial family. I read about the history and culture of Ethiopia. I knew every step of Ethiopian adoption inside and out. I was already a parent so I had all that stuff down. I was ready!

Well, we all know how that turned out. We traveled to Ethiopia and met the cutest baby boy on the planet and our world tilted in a crazy direction and everything went to pieces. Everything was exactly like I planned but nothing like what I expected. I had forgotten, once again, that you can’t plan how you will feel and how others will react. The unexpected always pops up and this adoption still, to this day, just keeps on surprising me.

I’m surprised how people react to our family now. We have never gotten any negative comments but we do get the spotlight. I feel people’s eyes on me when we are all out together. It’s different from when I’m out with just the boy, when I’ve had people assume he’s my bio kid, or when it’s just the kids and I, then I’m the babysitter. When Zboy throws a tantrum at the park, people watch more closely than they used to. They scrutinize my parenting more; like you have to somehow be a superior parent to have an adopted child. I feel like I have to prove I deserve to have him.

I’m surprised by how hard I am on myself where Zboy is concerned. When I yell at my girls I still feel like a lousy mom but I’m kinder with myself about it; I allow myself to make mistakes. With Zboy I feel like I have to prove something. When I screw up, I feel like I’m letting his first mom down; that I’m letting down all the Ethiopian people who entrusted him to me.

I’m surprised by how connected I feel to a country I’ve been to once, for one week. I’m amazed in how much the plight of the Ethiopians tugs on my heart and how much I want to help. When I read about the wars there and the drought and the current famine, my heart breaks. I can see my son in the eyes of the starving children and I think about how easily that could have been him. I read about the mothers holding their dying children and I know that, but for a little geography, that could have been me. I’m astonished at how much adoption has opened my heart. I’ve always felt compassion for people in need, now I feel compelled to help.

I’m surprised by how hard adoption can be and how simple. It took so long to break through the walls a little baby had already built around his heart and to teach him that we could be trusted. It was so hard to feel his rejection again and again. It was so difficult to keep trying day after day in the face of total indifference. Yet, it is so easy to love this amazingly complicated boy. It’s so incredible to watch him blossom under our constant and unending love and learn to trust again. It’s such a blessing to have him in our lives. It’s wonderful to be open to all the lessons that we are learning as we take this journey together.

It’s so simple to be a family.

All these surprises are my constant everyday reminders that you can’t plan everything and that sometimes, the things that you don’t plan for are the best things in your life.


Maggie said...

Beautiful post.

habeshachild said...

Lovely, lovely post.

Anne said...

This is amazing and so beautiful. Thank you. :)

wmw said...

Thank you for the reminder. I don't know what I expected parenting to be like - but it is amazing in so many unexpected ways.

Shaken Mama said...

This is what I love about parenting, my plans are all just kind of chuckled at...! A lovely post.