By Maria Kim
This one is going to be tough for me to write, but like most entries in search of an author, here I go: one word, one step, at a time.
This weekend, I began in earnest a journey that I hope to take – a journey to begin a family. And as many of you know, there are multiple ways a family can enter our lives – by birth, but also by bond and by belief. The path to mom or dad can be so many things – beautiful, frightful, whimsical, surprising, zen, everything, too many things, and all things in between.
I have always had the strong belief that my life is replete with blessings – a niece and twin nephews I adore but who don’t share my every day since they live so far away, a mother who in her own unique way will singularly love me more than any human being on this planet, dear friends and loved ones who have freely opened their doors to me as dinner guest and sibling and auntie and friend. An in-law in spirit to some even. A loved one. A family member.
And yet not in spite of this love but perhaps in response to it, I continue to feel a need to expand the fold to my own child.
My irrevocable wish of “one day” just doesn’t have the same whimsy to it as it used to. And so I have begun the journey of discovery to learn about the process of adoption. And that journey began this past Saturday.
The place that I went to was unintimidating enough. It was an old building erected almost a century ago, with beautiful pictures of children and their families showcased everywhere, letters avowing their infinite gratitude for this organization’s role in bringing the [insert last name here]s together. Even the furniture felt more that of a home than of an ‘agency’. And so I was lulled into comfort upon my first steps in.
Where I got stuck, and almost turnaround-get-back-in-the-car stuck was when I got to the room where the info session was to begin. Above the packets of information was a sign, inoccuous enough, which read:
“Pick one packet per family please.”
Six little words. With no intention of being anything other than order providers in what could otherwise be an orderless universe (there were perhaps 80 prospective adoptive parents and 50 ish packets). They just wanted to make sure they had enough copies. They surely didn’t anticipate that Maria Kim would read the hidden meaning of their prose.
Six little words.
And as I dutifully took my one packet per family, I realized – not to my horror, but to my momentary fear, melancholy, sadness, and lack of confidence – that my family … was me.
And that stark realization, though one that I was clearly very present to as I made this decision in the first place, was shocking to me. Like a mirror’s image after you have not washed your face in days. You are stunned, taken aback even, that that is you.
And after I pulled myself up by my pity bootstraps, I entered into the room, took a seat in the first row, and listened to every word they had to say – the two employees, and the one family who came to share their story. I hovered on their every word. In large part to learn, to make sure I began to demystify this process, to go as comfortably as I could from idea to intent.
And in some small part to have the infinite number of words that followed erase the six words that started my journey.
By the end of the meeting, I left less blue, more enamored by the one family who shared their moments of fear and delight, and more aware.
I realized: I am not a family of one. I am more a family of 100.
Of infinite family, friends and loved ones who believe in the power of my mom-dom as I do in theirs. Who will share in the fear and delight of my journey – whatever it becomes – with palpable attentiveness. Who will celebrate every word and every step of my family to be.
And so that day, I did indeed pick one packet per family. I picked it for me and for them. And for that which they give me, I love. And for that which may enter my life one day through this process, I love even more.