“Kick, kick, kick!” I said, holding my little girl in the water.
Back when I was a teenager, I spent a summer up on a lifeguard stand watching people splash and play. When I wasn’t up on my perch, I was down in the water giving swimming lessons. Being that I was one of the least experienced as well as the youngest of the swimming instructors, I was usually assigned to the younger age groups.
When teaching kids how to swim, we started at the beginning- blowing bubbles and kicking from the side of the pool. The main goal with those seemingly simple activities was to get the kids accustomed to the water, breaking the fear of drowning by helping them get comfortable with water on their face, and learning how their body will move in the water.
This summer my family splurged and bought a family pass to the water park. My 2 year old’s favorite place at the park wasn’t the tube slides or even the kiddie area. He loved the wave pool the best- granted, he only loved it if Mom or Dad was right there with him.
Weighing in at a whopping 35 pounds, and because he’s only been walking for about a year and a half, walking around in the wave pool was a recipe for disaster if he went in too deep without holding onto one of us. Every swell that came his way wanted to knock him over, leaving the poor little guy gasping for air.
It was different for me, though. Being a big heavy guy who’s been walking and swimming for decades, I have no problem being in amongst the waves.
That’s how our adoption journey has been. The ebbs and flows of our situation made it easy to get knocked over, but my wife and I had each other. We were strong because we were able to hold on through the trials of infertility as well as the ups and downs of our open adoption.
My wife and I weren’t only in it together, but we were in it with the birth parents as well. We were all a team, which made it pretty dynamic and interesting because teammates usually go through the same things together. In an open adoption, we were all trying to work together while going through different things. For us, the greatest joy came at the time when the baby came into our home. That baby coming into our home was on the other side of the birth parents struggling with the separation of what had been growing inside the birth mother for 9 months. So, ebbing and flowing, we were up while they were down, and that wasn’t the only time. Sometimes they were up while we were down.
We cared about one another, though, and that was the difference. Because we were aware and cared about the birth parents’ pain, we were able to put them high in our hearts. We were able to find it in ourselves to open ourselves up to what they might need in their own life- helping them out the best we could by giving them the tools they needed from us to heal in their own way. And while we faced the ups and downs of our life waves, they have put us high in their hearts as well, supporting us as parents. Sometimes we’re up while they’re down, and sometimes we’re down while they’re up, but we hold onto each other. We’re all in this as a team. And as a team, we are blazing the best path we know how for our children. Hooray for adoption. By Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart