Have you ever found yourself reading through those sappy slideshows online? You know the ones, where they take a 400 word story and dice it up so that you click through page after page looking at pictures while your heartstrings are pulled?
I kind of hate those stories. I want them to get to the point before I’ve clicked through thirty pages. However, once I’ve made it through five or six, I feel I’ve committed myself. I need the ending.
My second pet peeve about those quasi-articles is the organization of the story. It skips around, goes back, and repeats certain sentences redundantly. I keep wanting to email these people and say “hey, write it like this and more people will actually read it.” In my imagination, I attach a sample of my writing that make their editor fall off her chair.
Today, I found myself in that same predicament. The headline got me. “Teen Decides to Reveal this About His Foster Parents During Adoption Hearing.” Okay, I’ll bite. Just what does a teenage boy think of his adoptive parents? Inquiring minds need to know.
So I clicked slide after slide, and learned about this hunky-dory couple who decided to be foster parents. Ironically, she’s a blogger, like me. Eventually, this sweet couple fell in love with two brothers, and pursued adoption because like me, she didn’t want to see them separated. Later they added one more to the brood. It was all sunshine and sparkles and happy endings.
While I believe they’re wonder people with amazing intentions, I just wanted to shout at my computer screen and say “Get Real.” Because I adopted four children, so I can relate to this family. There are definitely sunshine and sparkles. But I feel like we’re missing, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”
You see, this boy’s famous words echoed his grateful heart. These parents were the best gift life ever gave him. And he interrupted the hum-drum of a courtroom to make it known. After which, tears flowed. But I have to say, I just don’t believe every day was that happy-go-lucky. Because even grateful, big-hearted children have their moments when they just don’t appreciate this life they were handed.
Trust me, I know. I’ve seen the ungrateful hearts. Wait, let me finish. My children are grateful, wonderful, inspiring young souls. But they’ve had their moments. Because the life they were handed wasn’t exactly a cup of tea.
There are moments when they don’t appreciate their time in the system. There have been moments when they didn’t understand how their mommy lost them. And there are moments when they don’t know why they can’t remember their father’s face.
Our situation is complicated, because their birth-mom is related to me. Thus, we cross paths from time to time. And they wonder….
What would it be like if our mom and dad stayed together? What would it be like if CPS never knocked on our door? Would she take me to baseball practice? Would she sit in the first row for my first dance recital? Would she buy me a pink satin dress for the Father-Daughter dance and take 100 pictures before I even get through the door? Would she kiss me goodnight and read “I Love You, Forever” until I drift off to sleep?
I know the questions that well up in their little hearts. And sometimes, those questions spill out in a fit of rage. The door gets punched or the window is broken. Hot tears run down angry faces and they storm through the house looking for a place to lay the blame.
And sometimes, I mess up. I yell “cut that shit out,” because I’m mad, too. I’m mad that anyone would have a child and fail to put them first. I’m mad that the morning news shows a baby in a trash bag, or a little girl’s tragic demise. I’m mad that my ten year old hopes she never makes the mistakes her birth-mom made. I’m mad that my son wonders if grown-ups always break their promises. And worst of all, sometimes, I forget to just hug them through the hot tears because I’m so mad that I can’t just erase their madness.
There exists a great inequality among my children. Out of seven, only two of them have their birth mom and birth dad still together. Only two of them have never moved, never had to change schools or make new friends, never had to understand the words “custody agreement,” never felt like they lost their entire world, never wondered if their mom and dad could both be present for some milestone, never wondered if they had enough to eat.
I sure wish I had a magic wand to fix that. Not just for my kids, but for every kid. Because they shouldn’t have to be grateful for someone who took them in. Every baby should just be magically born where they belong to two people who’ll always belong together. But life just isn’t that simple. So all I can do is tell my kids how lucky I am, because I got to choose them. I knew it was going to be messy, but I chose this mess anyway. And it’s not hunky-dory every day. But we have just enough sunshine and sparkles to get to tomorrow, and that’s all it takes.