I do not run marathons. I do not run at all, in fact, although I used to, once upon a time. To train for soccer, I ran high school cross country; my short, muscular legs weighing me down as I trudged through sand and even snow (I lived in Michigan). While I struggled to keep my shoe spikes from snagging on wild strawberry vines, slimmer girls with superhuman lungs whizzed by me on the trail.
But the thing is, I hadn’t signed up for cross country to win medals. Had winning been my aim, I would have despaired at the end of each race. I signed up for cross country simply because I knew good things would come of it.
And for most people who do run marathons, a similar approach is taken. I’ll see friends of mine on Facebook wearing size L running shorts, with paper numbers safety-pinned to their shirts, smiling broadly with their fists in the air – proud as punch to have finished 1,354th or something like that. They wouldn’t be so gleeful had they been attempting to break the tape. They were impressed with themselves for finishing, as darn well they should be.
Adoption: the hardest race many of us will ever run. Sure, there are times when the road is level and there are trees overhead to shade us from the sun. But so often the journey is hilly and life-sucking, and our lungs burn for air. It is in these more difficult moments that we must remember why we adopted. Did we decide to adopt because it sounded like fun? Was it a back-up plan to birthing children? Did we feel pressured to adopt because all the other really cool families are doing it?
I hope you could answer no to all of those questions.
The truth is, we don’t sign our names on the bold black line, while our brand new toddler screams bloody murder on our lap, so that we’ll pop back into Life As Usual and feel totally like that child’s mother, cutting the crusts off bread and vacuuming under the rug. If those were our expectations, we would be undone by disappointment when our child doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep, doesn’t feel like our own, and the rug doesn’t get vacuumed until three months after Gotcha Day.
Friends, let us not forget why we signed up for this. At some level, at some point in time, each of us realized that this life is not about our comfort, or even our happiness…or even, I propose, about us at all. The reason my husband and I adopted our daughter was because, quite simply, we are a family, and she needed one.
Well shoot, if being a family is the goal, no matter how pieced-together we are/feel at the moment, then I can raise my fists in the air and smile for the camera, because the victory has already been won.