December 11th, 2013

When a couple reveals plans to adopt a baby we rejoice for them. It is just as exciting as a pregnancy announcement. No matter how they come into your life a baby is a gift and your life is forever changed. For many couples they go through the same processes they would in the case of pregnancy. They prepare for their baby’s arrival. A baby shower is held and the new life celebrated. How they came to be pales in comparison to the importance that lies in the fact that they simply came to be.

But what about when it’s an older child? Their arrival into your life is still significant yet not celebratory because it’s not a baby, it’s a big kid. When you adopt an older child no one tells you to enjoy every moment because it goes by fast. But it does. No matter what stage of childhood you find yourself in it all happens at an alarming rate.

There are no knitted caps and embroidered blankets. No sharing of advice and talk about the sleepless nights despite the truth that all of us parents know —  No matter how old your child is there will be sleepless nights. Nights like the ones when you walk around the house cradling a colicky baby and nights when you lie in bed awake wondering if you’re doing this parenting thing right. Nights when you sit at a kitchen table finishing the last of the party decorations you attempted to make after garnering inspiration from Pinterest. And nights where you find yourself awakened by the sounds of little feet tip toeing to your room because someone has a tummy ache.

Sleepless nights no matter how frequent or scarce are a part of parenting.

Along with them is the innate ability to love your child without abandon even before you see them face to face for the first time. A love that has no limits. A love that can start in utero at that moment you suspect your are pregnant, when the social worker calls to let you know they’ve got a child in need of a home or when you become romantically involved with someone who is a parent and make the decision to make more room in your heart.

And still most often there is no celebration to commemorate the gift you have been given unless they come in the form of an infant.

When my husband adopted my daughter it was one of the happiest days of our lives. While she had long been his in his heart it was a chance to make it “official” (from a legal perspective). It also allowed her to have her dream come true — which was to have the same last name as her daddy. For us this was worthy of a celebration. So we threw a wish party because she told us that she got her wish.

I think of the families who have opened their hearts to love other children. Not just through stepparent adoption. Those who have adopted through foster family agencies and through the child welfare system, those who were willing to make room in their homes and more importantly their hearts. In my own experience, I have never seen this celebrated. Not in the form of a soirée or in the form of words of support, appreciation or encouragement.

Not everyone realizes the honor it is to be a parent. Still, every bit as honorable when you become one by way of adoption.
It is my belief that the world needs more wish parties or even welcome parties. Not just baby showers. We need to realize that life and new members of family units should be celebrated. That adoptive families can benefit from knowing that their tribe — their village is there for them and their babies (infant babies, toddler babies, child babies, teenage babies).

There are countless children who wish for a family and countless families who wish for a child. And when those wishes come true — when the prayers have been answered — thanks should be given and celebrations had.

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