This weekend marks the first anniversary of our adoption referral. For those outside the adoption community, this means after a two-year leap of faith we landed on solid ground holding the picture of a gorgeous baby girl born in Jiangxi, China.
The portrait of our doe-eyed baby motivated everything we did for the next two months until we could travel to China.She motivated us to transform our restful coffee-bean colored TV room into a pink and green girls’ nursery. She motivated me to spread paperwork on every flat surface in my living room and dining room as I filled out travel visa applications, health forms, insurance forms, leave of absence requests and so on. She motivated me to stay up late night after night shopping and packing and planning on what to bring in one small suitcase for a baby we’d never held, didn’t know anything about.When we met baby girl on Oct. 30, 2006, we were strangers for sure, but the unrequited love affair wouldn’t last for long. Over the next 10 months, baby girl would fall in love with us, too, and learn to love all that life with a family had to offer.All this leads to this week, when I watched baby girl in a candid moment. She lay on her back, holding her baby doll “Mei Mei” aloft and softly singing. She rocked Mei Mei over her head, letting her “fly” just as I do with baby girl.They say you can learn a lot about a child’s emotional state by watching her play. What I see is that baby girl has come a long way from the frightened infant who howled when we set her on the floor.The reason why stay-at-home motherhood has been so frustrating for me is that I assumed that by being a woman and a second-time-around mom it would all just come to me. What’s to know? What’s to learn?I soon realized that there’s plenty to know and learn. The hardest part for me was admitting I had a lot to learn. To let go and learn from women who’ve mastered this role was a huge turning point for me.The best piece of advice I received this year was from a mom of four who told me that it took her TWO YEARS to figure out how to do it all and be happy. Two years of trial and error and anti-depressants and near nervous breakdowns and threats of divorce. There is no magical formula for her to pass on to me or for me to share with you. So, I just have to keep that portrait of the wide-eyed wisp in plain view. Even though baby girl has changed greatly from that image, it serves as a strong reminder why I did all this and how far we’ve all traveled.