“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
If you haven’t yet picked up on it, adoption is tough. I will not lie to you. It is tough. There were days when I could not go to work because I literally could not get myself together emotionally and cried and felt panic attacks all day. Those were days when I had to reach out to my family and church family for prayer because the journey can seem way too overwhelming at times. And no matter how much anyone loves you or wants to be there for you, it’s all very challenging for most people to understand why you are having a complete emotional breakdown because you didn’t get a little piece of paper called “LOA”.
My mom is amazing mom of 6; point, blank, period. But guess what? She has never adopted, so even though she would try to do the best she could comforting me when she could sense that I was on the verge of a breakdown, she could only sympathize for me, she couldn’t empathize with me. Yes, she too was longing for her grandson to come home, but she wasn’t going through the same journey as me. My sister was (biologically) pregnant at the same time that I was paper pregnant with Kai and we used to frequently compare how different our journeys were. She said something very poignant during one particular phone calls, when I wasn’t doing well. She said something to the effect of “It must be tough for you because you don’t know where your baby is or if he’s well. So long as I eat and am safe, I know that my baby is being taken care of. I see my stomach growing, so I know that she’s growing. But its not the same for you. I can’t imagine how scary that is”. And she was right! It was scary and she could not fully comprehend what I was going through, the same way I’ll never know why my mom loved the sensation of her babies having hiccups when we were still in utero. I can imagine, but I’ll never really know.
When taking on a challenge like adoption, you have to have a tribe. And not just a tribe of friends, family, and church family to rally around and support you. YOU NEED A MENTOR MAMA. You need someone who has trekked Mt. Adoption, reached the top, descended with her baby strapped to her back, and survived to tell the tale. You have to have that woman (or women!), it’s an absolute must!
I thank God every day that he blessed me with an amazing one, Kelley! But he didn’t just gave me Kelley, who at the time, was working on China adoption #2 (she also has 2 bio kids and is now working on China baby #3!), He also gave me Jenny who, just like me, was working on her first adoption. Now, Jenny wasn’t so much a mentor mom to me in the beginning, more like a fellow adoption sojourner, but she finished her adoption a few months before I did, so she became mentor-esque at the end. Poor Kelley was stuck answering question upon question, upon question during most of our adoption processes. She gave both Jenny and I tips, tricks, and shortcuts to get from A to B in the shortest, least painful way possible. But more than just being someone who prevented our social workers from receiving 1,000 daily emails from us, she felt the journey alongside us.
For the last 18 months, Kelley, Jenny, and I have maintained a daily group texting dialogue. We have been frustrated together, annoyed together, disappointed together, confused together, elated together, and have cried together many, many times. We’ve cried happy tears, like when Kelley went back to China and was united with her daughter. And anxious tears like when I FaceTimed with Jenny and prayed over her right before she boarded the plane to get her daughter. And we’ve even sobbed ugly tears like when I finally received my Letter of Acceptance for my son after a grueling 94 day wait. Yes, others can feel all of those emotions for you too, but only some one who has walked that same path can truly feel exactly what you are feeling. And when you have that, it’s absolutely amazing. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it!
The funny thing is that Kelley is a SAHM of 5 (4 home, 1 waiting in China). She lives in Georgia and has taught me many things about the mysterious South. Jenny will soon be a SAHM of 2 bio boys, and 1 China princess. She lives and Wisconsin where it apparently snows half of the year, and where cheese is something of importance. I’m a stereotypical SoCal health conscious, yoga practicing, Eastern medicine loving, mom of 1 tiny China emperor (with another soon to come). We are nothing alike. We all have very different accents. We eat very different things. And we dress our babies very differently. But we are all China Moms, we all serve Jesus, and all 3 of our hearts have been broken for adoption. This is the glue that has created an unbelievable friendship. This is a friendship that expands almost the full width of the US and has continued to thrive despite us being in 3 different time zones.
If adoption is on your heart, you need this. You need to find a Kelley and a Jenny. (Just don’t take mine, please.) And do you know how we found each other? Yup, Instagram! Good old social media. Make social media work for good; reach out to someone! Don’t feel like your bothering them or that you’re a stalker, because they’ve likely been in your shoes. We all start at the same place, the starting line. And the funny thing about being an adoptive mom is that you are thrown into lifelong adoption advocacy, that’s just how it works. Particularly if you adopt outside of your race (like me!) people are always going to wonder why your baby doesn’t look like you, and that’s not a bad thing! You share your little message with the world.
So, if adoption is truly on your heart and you don’t know which questions to ask, just find someone. Click through the #adoptiorocks hashtag and start stalking some people. And if you can’t find anyone, leave me a message. This is not a mountain you want or need to tackle without someone who knows the way.
I mean, who else but a mentor mom could decode this?