Being a writer and a mom can be a challenge. OK, let's be honest, being a mom (or dad) and having any other job can be a challenge.
I wanted to write this week, but as all moms know, our children's needs come first. And this week, my daughter graduated. So, I've logged off and have spent time with family. I've shed tears of joy with my fellow parents. I've gotten endless hugs from my daughter's classmates. And I've made sure that my daughter feels all the love and support I can possibly give her as a very big chapter of her life comes to a close and a new begins.
And like every parent before me, I've reminisced about how far my daughter has come. I've also grieved for all the childhood needs and experiences that I couldn't give her. However, unlike most parents, our family is...not typical.
So let me tell you a story...
Eight years ago, my husband and I were a thirty-something couple living outside of D.C. We had careers, a house, pets, friends, the opportunity to travel the world, and our lives were complete, or so we thought. I had volunteered with an organization called Kidsave for a few years, assisting them with various programs. Kidsave tries to find families and mentors for older children in foster care/orphanages in the U.S. and several countries abroad. To honor a close family member who passed away, my husband and I decided to host an orphan from Colombia for the summer and try to find him a family.
We ended up hosting a nine-year-old boy. Then, we ended up falling in love with this little boy. Call it fate or destiny or luck, but somehow, the three of us had found each other, and the bond was instant and intense. Suddenly, we found ourselves going down the stressful and uncertain path of international adoption. We were at the mercy of our government, a foreign government, a foreign foster care system, and dozens of people who could prevent us from being a family. Somehow, we made it through all of the hurdles, and one year later, we were able to go to Colombia and bring home our son.
Through the process, we found out he had a sister. We were able to communicate with her and bring her up to visit on the same summer program, where we spent time with her. And again, we decided this child needed to be part of our family. We tentatively began the whole process again, knowing just how difficult and expensive it was. We were also in a race against time because under international law, we had only two years to complete our adoption before our daughter would age out of eligibility.
Again, we completed the process in one year. There were trials and tribulations along the way. Many a tear was shed...mostly by me. But in the end, we became a family of four.
That was five summers ago. It's been five years since I was able to spend a summer living in Colombia, learning about my children's country. (Not by choice, but because we had multiple judicial strikes and couldn't leave until the process was approved by both their government and ours.) But that time helped me fall in love with the place they called home for the first years of their life. I was able to meet so many important people in their lives. It's an experience I wouldn't change.
Then came the hard part...being a mom to not one but two kids.
At first it was dealing with the many issues that come with adopting children from difficult backgrounds, kids who have had the most unfair beginning to life. At the same time, we had to help our kids acclimate to being in a stable family, a new country, a new culture, a new language...basically, an entirely new life that was not anything like the American life presented on the Disney channel.
But slowly, the kids acclimated. Then, we faced the normal teenage problems - dating, friends, and homework that is beyond our expertise.
Yesterday, my daughter graduated high school. She spoke in her second language at graduation in front of several thousand people. She was in the top 25% of her class. She's been captain of multiple sports teams, president of her school, and involved in countless activities at school and in our community. She was accepted into a prestigious university. I am beyond proud of her. She is the bravest person I know. She's also the most determined. There is no doubt in my mind that she will succeed in life.
So, I have been a little checked out of author world this week. But I was checked in for my most important job...being a mom.