Before my writing went radio silent, I shared a lot about my dad and the struggles that I was having learning to find a new normal without him. It was such a juxtaposition of overwhelming sadness and yet excitement over our upcoming adoption. Then in what seems like years and in other ways just minutes, we were off to China to meet our youngest. Oh how that trip differed from our first adoption; we were in a different part of the country, our children were as different as could be from the moment we met them, and I was anticipating the painful wonder that is adoption.
I met our daughter on a late Sunday afternoon and by Sunday evening I was wondering how I was going to break the news to the folks back home that the child I was bringing home was in a much worse condition than we had ever imagined. Without a doubt she endured more trauma than we will ever really know in her short 2.5 years but she has this personality that just doesn’t stop. It’s almost as if she knows she can’t change her history but she is entirely in charge of her future and she lives every day with that in mind. Watching her grow and change and overcome has put a lot in perspective for me.
We continued 2017 by looking at colleges and trying to imagine what life will be like as that new chapter begins. There are moments though, such as shopping for a prom dress and new baby leggings, that are surreal. Only once has someone thought the youngest was my oldest’s child which makes me the grandma, I guess? I’m pretty sure though I took grandma better than my oldest took the idea of mom……sigh of relief.
We ended the year on a bit of a déjà vu. In November 2008, our oldest son was diagnosed with autism and what a journey it has been. For everything that I have shared with you, there are a dozen things that I haven’t. Suffice to say, we’ve had our ups and downs and the challenges change every day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….I failed to realize early in his diagnosis, that autism would grow as he does. Once again though, he has taught us more than we will ever be able to teach him. I asked him if I could share this and he said okay because more mommies and daddies should know this. We tried a new therapy last year that he was miserable for him; we though the misery meant he was in the right program because he was clearly working on things that were difficult for him. One day though he broke down and asked us how we would feel talking about our feelings in front of a group of people we didn’t know and then he asked us how people who don’t have autism could be giving people with autism advice. I explained that we do the best we can and until we know more and then we try to do better. He stopped both therapies immediately (not a popular decision with his ‘team’) and together we came up with a way to practice the skills in a way that he loves and looks forward to every single week.
But back to the déjà vu. December 2017, our youngest son was diagnosed with autism. Strangely not much as seemingly changed in terms of trying to find services and therapies that fall under insurance’s definition of best practices but are also consistent to how we interact with one another as a family. Add in trying to find an autism specialist who also understands adoption trauma and let’s just say we ask the blue eyed giggle monster a lot of questions.
Somewhere in the process of last year though, I lost my voice. I couldn’t figure out any more what was my story to tell and what wasn’t. I wasn’t even sure what story I wanted to tell or if I had one anymore to tell. I even debated if I wanted to renew my blog domain or just let it slip away in history. However, over winter break, someone commented on how easy we made it all seem and how lucky the kids were to have us and I realized there has to be a way to frame the tough stuff that honors my children and still lets other families know their struggles are real and it’s okay to struggle. I also realized that maybe instead of awareness we need to be working on changing the narrative from the children being lucky, to us being the lucky ones. Our kids are growing up to the be people they are in spite of our efforts to screw them up. They are the ones who wake up every day, and live their lives. I am watching them do and become people that I wasn’t ever brave enough or capable enough to become. I can’t wait to watch them as adults although time could slow down so that doesn’t happen for a long while. So maybe the story I tell needs to be my story and how I deal with my own hang-ups and screw-ups…the kids are doing great and as parents we need to learn how to sit back and let them guide the ship no matter how hard that is. So what’s that mean for the blog….absolutely no idea. Caden’s tale doesn’t change all that much as I’ve always tried to balance what I did and didn’t tell but if there is one thing that needs to be much clearer, it’s the fact that as parents, we are the lucky ones.