“And they lived happily ever after…” This is the ending to many of the fairy tales that I often read to my daughters. In a perfect world, this is how every story would end but, we do not live in a perfect world. So, let’s start at the end of this story, “…and we made it through the day, together, as a family.” It’s not as glamorous, but it is honest and beautiful.
Today I am going to tell you the story of my family. It’s an adoption story; one of love, struggle, heartache, pain, happiness and togetherness. Our journey to parenthood started in June of 2009 when my wife and I welcomed our first child into this world. While we didn’t have the parenting thing figured out, we did know her needs were met, she had a safe place to live, she was fed and nurtured, and her mommy took care of herself during pregnancy so that our little girl would have the best chance at health when she was born.
Fast forward a few years and another child later, we had decided to foster and got our first call that there was a 17 month old boy on the west side of town that had been taken into foster care and needed a place. “Will you accept this placement?” I was asked. I tried asking all of the questions that you are told to ask during training, but to my disappointment there were no answers. So in a leap of faith we said yes and a few hours later I was holding him in my arms. That was over four years ago now and to this day we are still trying to put the pieces in place and figure out the details of his story. We are a foster adoptive family and we just celebrated our two-year anniversary of our first adoption day. That 17-month-old boy that I just told you about is now part of our forever family with three of his biological siblings and our three biological children. Two paths, merged as one now travel this journey together. It’s not all roses. There are days and weeks at a time that are hard and it takes everything out of me. My energy, my patience, my emotions…but there are a lot more moments filled with love and hope.
When my wife and I got into foster care and then transitioned into adoption we didn’t expect the challenges that came from an unknown past, but when issues arise we tackle them head on because that is what you do for your kids. When we got into foster care and adoption, we also didn’t realize how sweet the little victories would be. Two years after our adoption day, we can’t imagine our lives any other way. Everyone says that they want to make a difference in the world and let me tell you what, adopt a kid from foster care and watch your heart explode. Their lives will never be the same and neither will yours. I cannot tell you enough how blessed I feel that they call me dad. Their humor, laughter, hugs, kisses, and giving hearts make me a better person. There is a lot that I can learn from them and our family is complete because they are a part of it.
You see, happily ever after is for fairy tales. This isn’t a fairy tale, it’s sacrifice, it’s patience, it’s laughter…it’s life and we made it through another day, together, as a family.