We can do hard things. I came across that phrase for the first time recently. It was printed on a sign, sitting in the background of a room on a TV show I was watching. I grabbed the remote, rewound a few seconds, paused it and called out to Mike, “Look! We can do hard things.”
“Maybe we need that sign,” he said.
He knew what I meant without having to explain myself. It’s been more than two years since Mike and I dove fully into the world of foster care. It’s been 10 months since our foster son, BlueJay, left. In another month, BlueJay will have been gone longer than he was here, a fact that feels impossible.
It’s been a few months since we decided that we still want to pursue foster adoption, this time with a waiting child, a child who is legally free for adoption or pretty close to it.
Someone recently asked me, “Why? After what you went through with BlueJay, why would you choose this again?”
It’s a good question. A fair question. A complicated question.
Life is calmer since BlueJay left. The days float by. Mike goes to work, Ryan goes to school, I sit at my computer and write or I go to the grocery store and shop or I stand in my kitchen and cook. We take the dog for a walk, we play board games, we go to a movie on a cold Sunday afternoon.
And I look around and I think, no. This isn’t all there is. Something is missing.
I don’t know how to explain our desire to foster and adopt. I can absolutely understand how it wouldn’t be the right choice for many people. I’m not doing it because I feel like I should. I’m not doing it to be some kind of hero. I’m not doing it to “save” anyone or prove anything. I’m doing it to grow my family, but yes, I could probably get pregnant again if I wanted to. So why haven’t it? Because I haven’t wanted to. That decision is not much more complicated than that.
The pull toward foster adoption is something I feel in my gut. The desire for it is something I can’t explain any more than I can explain why I need to write every day. Or why I knew moving to Arizona straight out of college was the right choice. Or why I knew Mike was the right guy for me or why I ever wanted to be a mother at all.
It is instinct. It is part of who I am. It is a leap of faith. It is not something I need to talk myself into nor something I can talk myself out of. It just is.
I am lucky enough to have married someone with this same instinct. I am lucky enough to have a son who has proven to be both strong and sensitive, loving and resilient.
We all have a path to take in life; we all come to the fork in the road and we glance left and we glance right. Each choice leads in a different direction. College or job. Move or stay. Say yes or say no. None of us can see the final destination. We have no way of knowing which path has more potholes or detours. It’s impossible to protect ourselves from heartache and loss; heartache and loss are the flip side of joy and love. They are inevitable side effects of following our hearts and really living our lives.
Why would I choose this again? I didn’t. It chose me.
It’s going to be ok. I believe that once we get past all those potholes and detours, it might actually turn out to be pretty great.
In the meantime, I know this: We can do hard things.