Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why do You want to Parent?

A few months ago I started working again.  I work two days a week as a school social worker at Addison’s school.  I could (and maybe will!) write a whole post on this new experience and the true blessing it has been in my life.  I love being a social worker, I love being a mom and now having the opportunity to be both at the same time is truly something extraordinarily wonderful.
But I digress…

As I was walking through the school the other day, my mind engaged in the children I was working with that day, and the plans and preparations that needed to take place, I noticed that there was new work displayed outside of Addison’s classroom.  The children had been discussing Martin Luther King Jr. and had been working on their writing by finishing the statement, “I have a dream…”  

I started reading the dreams that the children had documented.  When I got to Addison’s I honestly had no idea what was going to be written on that page.  Sometimes silliness pervades her, especially at times when seriousness is expected, and I would not have been surprised to read something like, “I have a dream to eat cookies with yellow sprinkles”, etc. 
Instead her page read, “I have a dream to help people that are sick.” 
Tears welled up in my eyes and in that moment I have never felt so proud to be this little person’s parent.  When I got back to my office I emailed Chris to tell him what I had just read.

A few weeks ago, a birth/first father “I am” wrote, on his blog (Statistically Impossible), about the criticisms he has received because of his choice, and his reasoning behind his choice, not to parent.  At the end of his post he leaves his readers with the following:
"Do you know why you want to parent? Not why society wants you to parent, not why evolution wants you to parent. Do you know why you want to parent? Have you ever asked? “
When you begin working with an adoption agency you fill out mountains of paper work and answer what seems like thousands of questions like, “why do you want to parent” or “why do you want to adopt”.  The following question and answer is an example from one of our actual adoption forms:
Why do you want to bring a child into your home?

We want to share our life with children.  We want to provide a home for a child who needs a home.  We want to watch children grow and experience life through their eyes.  We have always envisioned having a larger family.  We see so many short-term and long-term benefits of having multiple children.  We want our daughter to have siblings.  We want a dinner table full of chatty kids and a schedule full of homework and soccer practices.  We want to share our life with children.

I don’t think our response was bad, per se … however, it really, really lacks some serious depth.  Why I love reading Statistically Impossible by “I am”, is because he is so thoughtful and he often reminds Chris and I that we owe it to our future children’s birthparents to go deeper…to not just touch the surface and present answers that, although heartfelt, have a level of cheese or “we are the perfect family” feel to them. 
We want to do better than that … to be more honest and pure, raw and real.  That is what we strive for in all of our relationships and that will be no different with how we interact the birth parents that choose us.

“I am” has really had me thinking.  How does one who so passionately loves children and parenting describe their true motivations for wanting to parent without sounding like a cheese ball?

I am not sure I can do it with total abandonment of the cheese factor, but I am going to try my best.

So, standing in the hallway reading my daughter’s words helped me see some clarity in how to answer this question.  She could have written anything, well anything serious, on that page and I truly believe my tears would have surfaced.  Addison wanting to help people or help sick people is not something that is new to us.  She is a very helpful little girl and has a deep fascination and internal struggle with people who are sick or injured.  So, you see, my emotion did not stem from seeing that she wanted to help sick people.

My emotion came from the knowledge that our little girl is a happy and healthy kindergartner.  She was able to, on her own, without her parent’s help, write in her own words and in her own handwriting a dream of her very own.

That is why we want to parent. 

We want our children to become their own and we want to have the experience of watching that happen.  We hope for them to be happy and healthy so that they can be themselves and dream their own dreams.  We want to be their parents so we can help them do just that.  So we can know every step it took, the good steps and the bad, getting to that moment of being able to write that dream on a piece of paper and then being able to continue watching and being a part of every moment as that dream changes, unfolds, and morphs into the reality of what will hopefully be an amazing, purposeful, happy and healthy adult. 

As I stood in that hallway, I could feel all of the moments that led up to our little girl being able to write her dream and I could also feel the excitement of what our future will hold in watching, and being a part of, this child’s life and the other children we will be blessed to parent.  

We chose to parent Addison and we hope to be chosen to parent another child/ren.  Parenting, albeit challenging, is an honor…an honor to be responsible for and continuously present during the unveiling, emerging, and ever changing evolution of a human being. 


1 comment:

  1. Came across your blog after ready your Adoption Portrait in the post 30 adoption portraits in 30 days. Thank you for sharing! I hear you - we too have gone through our home study and know why we want to parent. It is a very intense journey. Best of luck to you as you go forward!
    - Michelle