Friendships are important and there's no substitute for bonds with people who “get it.” I don't know where I'd be without my adoption besties – women from all over the world who I have laughed with (sometimes laughed at), cried with and celebrated with. I can honestly say I’d probably be cray cray crazy without them. There is power in friendship, inside and outside of adoption.
Adoption besties – Celebrating friendships through adoption
Adoption besties know what it’s like to feel helpless, clueless, elated, impatient, blissful and frustrated all at the same time. And yeah, to a degree all mommies feel like that, but international adoption adds a different layer. Trust me.
My adoption besties have taught me a lot. Surprisingly, most of it is not about adoption.
1. There is no such thing as “nothing in common”
Adoption besties have taught me tolerance. I have met some women through adoption who I have little in common with outside of having vaginas. Instead of shunning people who are a little different than me, I find myself appreciating the opportunity to bond with women I might not have connected with outside of adoption circles. The world would be boring if we were all the same, right? By the way, every time I see the word “shun”, I totally think of Charlie the Unicorn. Remember that?
2. Don’t envy and don’t gloat
In other words, don't be a Hatey McHaterson. Jealousy of someone else’s happiness is toxic. Smugness over having it easy is short-lived and causes that karma to crash your partay. Don’t be full of yourself and don’t be jealous of your neighbor’s ass. The Bible says that’s bad. You heard it here first. Well, maybe not, but it sounded good.
Seriously, you don't know what you don't know. The window in to someone else's life may look picture perfect. It probably isn't.
3. There is a time and a place for oversharing
I have always rolled my eyes at these kind of social media shares:
“Little Amanda pooped on the potty all by herself today! Holla!”
Really, do we need to know the play-by-play of all the potty training escapades? Until I parented a child with complex needs, I didn’t know I needed a place to let it all out and express thoughts not suited for polite company. Oversharing is part of being a parent. There is someone out there who wants to hear about all the poop in your life, literally and figuratively.
4. Someone is always available to talk. Even at 3 in the morning.
“Adoption crazies” are sometimes served with a side of insomnia. Through the magic of the internet, one of your adoption besties will always be awake and plugged in to talk you out of your tree (or sit up there with you and offer some adult refreshment.)
5. Don't. Judge.
There have been many times I have said “I would never” in reference to someone else’s adoption. I would never adopt 10 kids or snarl at my mother if she tried to hold my newly adopted child. I would never “give my child back” because things were harder than I expected. There are lots of things I say I’d never do that I haven’t been faced with having to do. There is a fine line between having an opinion and passing judgment. I am not sure that I’m great at navigating that but I’m working on it.
6. Don’t complain about what you don’t have and celebrate the blessings you do have
I didn't make that up from scratch. But whoever did was a smart person.
7. It’s super fun to talk in code
“I barely got my I-800A back from USCIS in time to be DTC and LID before the CCCWA shut down”. Raise your glass if you know what that means, my sisters. We should have our own secret handshake, too.
8. My way isn’t the highway
While painful to admit, my way of parenting isn’t the only way or even the best way all the time. While the “extreme attachment” and “don’t tell your kids no” parenting styles still seem weird to me, I’ve learned to appreciate some different perspectives and become more open-minded. My kids didn’t come with manuals and I do not have all the answers. I think I know more than I actually do and being exposed to some different viewpoints has done me good.
9. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t make them disagreeable
“I think you’re wrong” and “I don’t agree with that” doesn’t equal to “I hate you and we can't be friends.”Instead we have “agree to disagree”, “I appreciate you anyway”and “thanks for your perspective.”
10. To have a friend, you have to be a friend
I have never needed support and encouragement more than I have during our adoptions. Sometimes I found support and encouragement to be lacking in my “real life”. Absent, even. At the very least, not what I expected it to be. Through my adoption besties I have learned to reach out to others, to encourage when I am in need of encouragement. Most of all, I have learned to open my mouth and say stuff like:
“Yes, I need more wine;”
“I need someone to talk to”.
Sometimes it is hard to say these things but life is so much better when you learn to say them.
Adoption besties and fabulous women everywhere: appreciate each other, cherish your friendships and celebrate opportunities to connect, either virtually or in person.