I don't like events.

The block party.
First impressions.
Easter egg hunts.
The company Christmas party. [shudder]

They evoke anxiousness in me.  Pressure.  I start to sweat just thinking about them.  I want to soak it all in and not miss anything.  Events can be perfect, but they can so easily flop.  I don't want to mess it up.  Maybe this is in large part due to my tendency to perfectionism that I'm trying to let go of?  Whatever the reason, I much prefer the everyday.

What is it about planning events that can make us lose sight of what is really happening?   Events are empty without something to remember, something to celebrate or something we're looking ahead to.

I've heard it said that many couples get so busy planning their weddings that they forget to prepare for their marriage.  As pre-adoptive parents, a lot of us spend a crazy amount of energy just trying to make it through the paperwork and the waiting.  It's fun to imagine, to dream, to prepare-I love that!  We scour other adoptive parents' blogs, dig through adoptive parent forums, cry through the airport videos, get our homes ready and read a few books on attachment.  We are then, hopefully, forced back into reality by our social worker requiring us to actually prepare for our kiddos to come home.  For us it meant attending some great training seminars, reading more books and conversations with our social worker.  While nothing can ever really prepare you for parenting, and in this case, parenting children from hard places, I do think that it's common for us pre-adoptive parents to have rose-colored glasses on as we go through the adoption process.  We don't think the situations that are described during the trainings will really happen in our homes.  Surely the child whose picture we have hanging on our fridge and tucked deep into our hearts (unless we have information to tell us otherwise) hasn't experienced the deep levels of hurt and trauma described.  And, even if they have, certainly they won't exhibit the behaviors that we're reading about.  Yes, love will be enough.

And then.

We meet our child.  They're a real person.  They have a temperament and personality all their own.  They have their own view of the world.  And if they're a bit older, they've likely been navigating this big world on their own and have life experiences and ways of coping that have helped them survive, but don't fit well into family life.

The adoption process is hard, but parenting a hurt child is harder.

It's easier for our friends and family to get behind our excitement for our child to finally come home than it is for them to relish the idea of our family cocooning for a few months or supporting us as we're trying to navigate life when it's hard day after day, not to mention our parenting looking a bit different than it used to.  The same child that we waited and prayed for knows just how to push our buttons.  Our sleep is disrupted.  We run to our bookshelf but can't find the chapters we were sure that we bookmarked about issues with food or red flags in attachment.

Enter grace. 

We do a lot of do-overs in our home.  We practice walking in the door from school with a different attitude, walking up the stairs without stomping, changing our tone of voice with siblings and even practicing saying "I'm sorry" so that it is sincere.  I need grace.  And do-overs.  One time events don't allow us that grace. 

So, maybe it's not that I don't like events (because as I'm writing this I am realizing that there I things I really do love to celebrate), but that I prefer the mundane.  The everyday.  I'm thankful that parenting is a journey, not a one-time deal.  We're blessed with day, after day, after day to extend grace to each other and practice loving better.

Yes, the airport is exciting, but the real parenting is what it's really about.

p.s.  Mom and Dad, This post has nothing to do with your 50th anniversary party (gasp-event!) this weekend.  I promise, I'll keep my sweat and my anxiousness to myself.


  1. I LOVE events and planning them, (I plan monthly adoption events locally and once a year a HUGE 250+ party for Timkat or Fasika) but I really relate to this despite that. I think this adoption is more sobering because I know there are SO many moving pieces once the girls get home that I can't really even plan for them. I just have to figure it out and hope for grace to fill in my obvious mistakes.

  2. I love hearing your thoughts and heart. Love.

    I so remember the hard days, and I celebrate the "normal" parenting we are now praciting! I also wait in anticiaption for the hard days that God-willing will happen when we add on once again. Family construction is so much more ME then home construction!

    Love you! And wish we were next door neighbors trading stories on a daily basis.

    1. Next door neighbors would be perfect. You guys want to build us a house? :) I really can't wait to see how God builds your family in the next few years. Love you!

  3. Oh Sharon, so beautifully put!

  4. Sharon, while I can't relate to this, seeing as I've never adopted (yet!), I did find it very interesting and somewhat scary!

    I LOVE your P.S.! HILARIOUS! Have fun!