What if we had gotten married and had 2 or three kids by birth? What would they be like? I do know this. They would have been attached. I don't know if they would have been mentally ill, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have been all that cute (smile), and I would guess they would be incredibly intelligent and off-the-charts stubborn. The oldest would be about the age of our youngest, and well.... life would be a lot different.
So while I am tempted to be jealous of those whose have only kids who are secure, attached, mentally healthy, intelligent and on the right track, I know that people all have their own challenges. Facebook pages seldom show the struggles. And I do know the person I have become because of my children.
My children have allowed me to see the bigger picture. I have become more compassionate, more understanding, wiser, more in tune to the world around me, more engaged with reality maybe....
That's not to say, of course, that my Facebook friends aren't any of these things -- it's just that I know that it is my children who have brought me where I am.
When I train pre-adoptive parents, I tell them to consider the part of society that most of us in Middle Class spend our lives trying to avoid. Those who are involved in drugs or alcohol, domestic violence, mental illness, poverty, and crime. I then tell them that becoming a foster parent or adopting out of foster care is inviting "those people" into our lives -- because "those people" live in the minds and hearts of our children. Our children are "those people."
And so as time goes by, embracing those who are different and whose lives are glaringly imperfect, changes us. It becomes more difficult for us to tolerate injustice, racism, or intolerance. "Those people" become "our people" and we are forever changed.
I am sure that many of my Facebook friends who have not adopted have been brought along this journey in other ways, but for me it was the only way to get me to live my life with eyes wide open. I couldn't flip the channel when something disturbing came across my screen, because what was disturbing to me became part of who I am.
It would have been fun to have been able to live two lives. I wish I could know what might have been had I made other choices. But I'm confident that this was how I was supposed to learn and grow.
Thank you Kyle, Mike, Rand, John, Jimmy, Salinda, Ricardo, Mercedes, Tony, Leon, Dominyk and Wilson for teaching me how to live with my eyes wide open.