One year ago at this time, we had just informed our family and friends of our intention to adopt from the foster care system. We were preparing for our first home study and we were halfway through our required licensing trainings.
The year that followed was beyond full. We welcomed home our foster son, BlueJay. He traveled with us – and our son, Ryan – to Ohio to see my family (twice), he splashed at the edge of the ocean with us, and we visited amusement parks, lakes and museums together. We sent him off to his first day of preschool with tears in our eyes, we dressed him up as a super hero for Halloween and we watched his face light up as he realized that Santa did, in fact, visit our house on Christmas morning.
I spent most of the past year stumbling ungracefully into the role of a new foster mother and the role of a mother to two children. It was admittedly harder than I had braced myself for. Maybe it was hard simply because we added another person to the family or maybe it was hard because that person came to us as a full-blown kid we didn’t know. Regardless, it was hard.
Over those months, I learned all kinds of little tricks to make my life easier and lessen the preschooler bickering. Like implementing the rule that Ryan always gets in the car first and BlueJay always gets out first. Or how Ryan always gets the blue or green cup and BlueJay always gets the yellow or purple. I have learned when to intervene in their arguments and when to let them figure it out. (Eh, maybe I’m still working on that one.)
We started 2015 as a family of three. We ended 2015 as a family of four. We honestly have no idea what 2016 will bring to the structure of our family.
We have not adopted BlueJay and we may never get that chance. We don’t know whether we’ll stay intact as the family we are right now, whether we’ll say goodbye to BlueJay and welcome another child, or whether we’ll go back to – and remain forever – the original three. At this moment, any of those options seem equally possible.
It’s no secret that I don’t do well with uncertainty or drastic change. But I also accept that nothing in life is certain and much of life revolves around change. As I get older, I think – I hope – I am getting better about letting go of the anxiety about the future and enjoying the present.
I am intentionally starting this year with no regrets. I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes last year, but I know in my heart that I always meant well. It’s possible that 2015 was one of the most challenging years of my life, but the things that made it challenging were also the things that made it rewarding.
For 2016, I wish for:
- A (continued) strong marriage. My marriage to Mike is the foundation of our family and is something I never take for granted. He is the only one I want to walk with on this journey. Our marriage will always be among the highest of my priorities because our unity is the very foundation of our family.
- Peace for Ryan. Whatever happens, Ryan likely has major adjustments ahead of him. I wish him the strength to get through whatever changes await him this year. While I mostly wish I could protect him from anything that might potentially hurt him, I also know that the experiences in life most worth having are the ones that also make it harder to say “goodbye.” I suppose I simply hope the joy of his memories outweighs the sadness.
- Peace for BlueJay. Wherever he ultimately grows up, I hope he knows in the depths of his soul that he is smart, he is good, and he can bust out a (DAMN) solid beat. I hope he knows he can do it – whatever it is – and that he is worthy. I hope he always feels our love behind him, no matter where he is.
- A little selfishness. I hope Mike and I can find the time and space to do our own thing both together and individually this year. I hope we can get back to some kind of regular date night and also explore our own individual interests.
So, that’s it. Last year was hard and amazing. This year will be … who knows. I can only hope it will be filled with memories and experiences that leave me feeling warm, fuzzy and satisfied that if nothing else, I did the very best I could.