You get to be tired, too.
There are several things that I’ve heard adoptive mamas say over and over throughout this journey. But this one always stops me in my tracks. First of all, because I can relate. Secondly, because it’s absurd but parents by adoption actually feel this way. Are you ready? Here it is. Adoptive parents (specifically mamas) feel as if they don’t get to be tired, complain, or feel overwhelmed in their role as a parent. That’s right. I’ve had this conversation with so many adoptive parents. We worked so hard, we said a million prayers, we fought a hundred battles, and went through a lot of heartache to find our children by adoption. Once we finally have our little bundles of joy, we experience all the same emotions of any new parent. Complete exhaustion, obviously. Anyone who has children (by biology, adoption, foster, it doesn’t matter) knows exactly what it feels like to have a new baby or young children at home. It is H-A-R-D. On so many levels, it is hard. Of course, you’re joyful. These little people are the most precious things in our lives. But exhaustion takes over some days and leaves you feeling depleted and overwhelmed by the simplest of things. I believe that adoption adds another layer to these feelings because you’re also navigating a very new and deeply rooted relationship with your child’s birthparents. That comes with emotions, too. I remember feeling heartache solely out of love for my children’s birthmothers because I saw what they went through. I struggled with that guilt for a while. I felt sadness and pure joy in the same second.
Raising young children is hard. I think almost the entire population of the world would agree on that. But yet, again and again, I hear adoptive parents feeling as if they don’t have the right to have these feelings. They don’t get to be tired or complain. They don’t get to feel overwhelmed. They don’t get to be scared or ask for help. Because this is exactly what they prayed for, wished for, moved mountains for. They don’t feel like they can talk about their heavy emotional load to family or close friends in fear of being judged. They feel as if their feelings pail in comparison to the pain the birthfamily is likely experiencing. So, we stay quiet. We keep our head down, hide our tears, and do the best we can on only a few hours of sleep. We take pictures where we’re all clean and smiling and show the world how great parenthood is, how all of our dreams have come true. That’s what we do.
But I’m here to tell you that you have permission to feel ALL THE THINGS that any new parent feels. Yes, you have permission. It does not matter if you waited a month to get pregnant, or nine years. It doesn’t matter if you were chosen by an expecting family only days after getting listed with your agency or waited two whole years to be chosen. It doesn’t matter if you have six kids or a first-time parent. It’s irrelevant. Because it’s all equally hard. It’s all exhausting. We’re all doing the best we can the raise this next generation.
So, if you’re an adoptive parent feeling like you aren’t allowed to feel tired or overwhelmed or dreaming of a day, just one day, to have all to yourself, I’m telling you that your feelings are valid, they matter, and deserve to be heard. You deserve rest. You deserve to have a few hours to yourself. You deserve to take a nap. You are worthy of planning a day out with friends. You can complain to a close friend about your exhaustion. You’re a new parent. You’re in a tough, but joyous, season of life. And you get to feel your way through all the emotions that come with that – no matter what your situation is. And when you get those precious first smiles, first giggles, and all the happy moments, hang on to those. Use those moments as fuel for your heart and soul and know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.