I've faced my shared of difficult decisions in life, but nothing prepared me for deciding to become a parent. "Deciding to become a parent" carries a different meaning for most, but I had an actual answer I had to provide the state as to whether or not I wanted to move from foster parent to pre-adoptive parent. And in a relatively short time, compared to most cases.
The phenomena of being a single, adoptive parent - and in my case, having to decide to leap into that category - is one that there is no instruction manual for. There are a lot of resources for foster and adoptive families, but every single situation is different, and mine was even more unique.
Those who know me know that I don't half-ass anything I do. "All In" happens to be the motto of my crossfit home, but it also describes my personal philosophy. Why waste any valuable time of this precious life doing something that you're not 110% committed to!?
I'm also a very analytical person, and because I take my commitments very seriously, I like to have a nice dose of certainty with my decisions. So I tried every perspective I could to try and "figure out" how to know for sure that adopting my girls was the right decision. For purposes of my daughters' privacy, I won't go into the details of their case, but I will say that the process of deciding to pursue adoption came very quickly. Many people who foster would consider this a dream scenario because it was a fast-track adoption of 2 fantastically wonderful little girls who were ready to be loved.
I was scared to death. I signed up to foster because I thought I wanted to be a parent but was too afraid to take the leap straight to adoption, so I tried fostering first to even see if I could do it. I was still in my "trial period" in my mind, and now I was being asked only a few months into knowing these beautiful children if I was ready to commit to a lifetime of not just meeting their basic needs, but being a 110% (single) parent, role model, teacher of important values, and all of the hard stuff. The short time that I'd already been a foster parent was an awakening for me of how beautiful and how challenging it can be to have kids.
And so, I needed certainty. I needed an equation or a graph that perfectly laid out the answer of why I should or shouldn't do this. Obviously, I loved these girls and imagined us together as a family, but I had so much doubt:
- Was I doing them a disservice by bringing them into a single-parent family? Could another traditional family give them something better than I could?
- Could I walk my talk? I'm a very outspoken person about what I believe in, and it's easy to have values "on paper", but would I be able to live my values for my children?
- Was I ready to give up my self-driven lifestyle? I don't think I was a super selfish person before kids were around, but I liked to go a lot and do my own things without answering to others expectations or schedules. Obviously, single-parenting would change that dramatically.
- Among many other doubts that I can't even put into words.
Certainty didn't come in the way I wanted and thought I needed, but it came. Eventually it was a "say yes to forever" or "say goodbye and never know what happens to these 2 children who I loved as my own already" decision. And though I didn't go into the adoption with all of the answers to my doubts and questions, in 2015 we became a forever family because I knew without a doubt that I couldn't say goodbye to these girls.
I will likely spend the rest of my life struggling with doubts, but I also know it will only make me work harder to be the kick-ass parent my kids deserve.
I will also not be afraid to acknowledge how messy and frustrating parenthood can be to those around me, and I refuse to set unrealistic expectations for what my kids really need just because of what society tells me. The more parents (people!?) can be honest and open about the ugly side of life so that we're not competing with each other, the more we can appreciate and enjoy all of the beautiful stuff in life that passes us by because we're too worried about what the world expects of us.
There was a while in my life that I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a parent because I was scared to take the leap as a single/divorced person. And while being a parent certainly isn't for everyone, living your life without fear of "what if" is for every single person out there.
Deciding to be a parent was the scariest ones I've ever made, but it taught me one of the most important lessons I've had: life is beautiful but short, time is precious, and those resources should be used wisely.
"If we were vampires and death was a joke
We'd go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn't feel the need to hold your hand
Maybe time running out is a gift
I'll work hard 'til the end of my shift
And give you every second I can find
And hope it isn't me who's left behind"