Mom, let me share a typical day in my life with you.
I awake early to begin my typical weekday routine in my household. I do a quick workout at our local gym, rush home while I chug water, wake my kids up, head to the kitchen to make lunches, simultaneously start breakfast, give a check to backpacks, gently remind my kids to get up again, warm the car up for carpool, consider pouring ice cold water over the stragglers who are still sleeping, and kiss the heads of the ones who have made it downstairs in relatively good time.
They rub their eyes, stretch, grumble, and may toss a few items my direction. None of them like getting up before the sun. I smile and return my attention to the task at hand. Getting them out the door on time for another day of school. As I slap peanut butter and jelly on slices of bread, I smile.
Then, this thought hits me; I couldn’t imagine my life without my children. I couldn’t have scripted a better story than the one I’m living out, all thanks to adoption. It has made me a better person. Here are 4 reasons why this is true:
It’s made me the best version of myself
The way I look at humanity, people who are different from me, and the world around me has totally changed, in part, to the adoption journey. Over the past 16 years, my wife Kristin and I have encountered so many situations that have knocked us completely out of our comfort zone and I’m better for it. I’ve discovered the world is much bigger than me and the tiny hearts of the precious children I am blessed to care for in this life have reminded me of this.
It has increased my capacity to love others
I’ve often said that adoption is not a question of your capacity to love others. It’s a question of choice. What will you choose to do with your heart? This amazing journey has taught me just how true this is. I love my children as if I did create them biologically. Love is not dependent on DNA or biology. Love is dependent on what you choose to do with your heart.
It’s made me less selfish
Before we began the adoption journey, I was a very selfish person. I thought only of myself, my plans, my wants, my needs, and my perspective. I’m still learning how to not be selfish, but it’s very true of my life before having children. I resisted the adoption journey in the beginning because I didn’t understand it, but also because I thought my life, the perfect life I thought I would live, would be disrupted. And it was. And I’m glad. This journey has humbled me and showed me, clearly, that this is not about me.
It’s taught me what family truly is
Just as love is not dependent on DNA or biology neither is family. I now realize your family is made up of the people you choose to live life with. The thought never crosses my mind that my family isn’t real because we are not biologically related. My children still call me “Daddy” and I call them “Sons” and “Daughters.”
The world has all kinds of opinions and perspectives on adoption. Some downplay the power of it, others say it’s wrong because they believe children should always remain with their birth parents. Some are indifferent. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m eternally grateful for our choice to adopt.
Is this journey perfect? Absolutely not.
Is it worth it? Absolutely!
May your parenting journey be equally blessed.
Mike Berry is cocreator of the award-winning blog Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. He and his wife, Kristin, have cared for dozens of children through foster care and have adopted all eight of their children.