As my husband and I continue through our adoption journey, we are forced (in a good way) to discuss our life story and how we would raise a little one once we are chosen by a birth-mother. Throughout the adoption process, we have had to discuss our lives, our hopes, our fears, and more, for hours; both with each other, our investigator, and now, our adoption consultant.
Overall, it is pretty easy to talk about ourselves. But in this instance, it’s rather difficult, because not only are we talking about our history and the life we have lived, but you have to accomplish all this while showing the mother the kind of life her little one will have. The great thing about this long process is it makes you think about a multitude of considerations you may never have thought about when wanting to become a parent.
The process to this point has really made me think about the type of parent I want to be and the people I want my child surrounded by. It has also made me think about the attributes I need to live out loud so that my child sees the qualities I value as an example, rather than just simply telling them. I would say most of us would be able to pick hundreds of qualities we would like our kids to have. But we also have to be honest and forthcoming; no parent is perfect and certainly aren’t going to be able to teach everything. I think a lot of times this is why we as humans lean toward sheltering our children from certain aspects of life.
As I said, I know my child will be so much more than these, so complex and intricate, just as the rest of us are. They will be able to rest in the likeness of their creator, perfectly imperfect. But when they rest their head down at night, I hope our little one is filled with unwavering confidence that these six things are a place to come back to; that no matter the situation, these are the six truest things they can always count on.
Give Love & Be Love
There is a definite reason I start with this one. Deep down, this is what everything boils down to. Our faith, our compassion, and the people we value all start with a place of love. It’s important to be able to show children not only the power of love but the impact and change it can create. I want our child to not only feel the love from our family and friends but also be able to recognize it in complete strangers. This can only come from a strong understanding and experience with love. I like to think that most future parents are a lot like me. I think that they are worried about the world in which we live and what that is going to mean for their little ones. Every time I have thoughts, every time I wonder what this crazy world is going to hold for my baby, I know that the truest aspects of our complicated lives are rooted in love. Its always grounding, secure and has the ability to change the darkest of hearts.
I want my little one to easily give love away while still knowing enough to protect their own. Everyone is deserving of love, so give them the chance to be loved and love in return.
I believe that with a little effort, we can all be nice. I believe if we are really honest with ourselves, niceness is complementary with purchase, even fake at times. And while I want my child to work on treating people nicely and even reverent, I hope they really fight for kindness. Kindness is deeply rooted and is often substantially harder to give kindness over niceness. It takes years of practice and a genuine desire to treat others with gentleness no matter the situation.
I have to say, this is one place I am going to have to work really hard on if I plan to live it in front of my child. I’m going to have to fight like hell to overcome times where I just want to give brutal honesty, reveal my deepest frustration or just freely give out my charged, polarizing opinions. I think we could all use a little more kindness. I have two beautiful women in my life that exude this wonderful trait, both of them, sisters, nonetheless. You can see it in their spirit. You can tell that they have worked and developed their genuine kindness for years, giving kindness away like its a never-ending waterfall in a world that is dying of thirst.
Give What You Can Without Giving Up Yourself
It took me 34 years to figure out that I am not Superman, realizing that I can’t do everything and expect to be anything. I tried for years to be perfect at every job, every hobby, every workout, every relationship which left no room for mistakes or errors. I believed that to be the best person–the best version of myself–meant that I had to be everything to everyone. I had to rise above it all and live the outward life the world expected, all the while watching my soul crash and burn. This simply cannot happen when our little one enters our home; for my sake and theirs.
It took me 34 years to own the fact that the pain I went through in life is what made the better aspects of my humanity. One of my favorite writers, Glennon Doyle-Melton, said that oftentimes we need to sit in our pain, let it sink in and allow it to teach us. She reminded me that we do our growing in the valleys of our lives and then celebrate when we reach the peaks. Both of those life periods are valuable and emotional. But I also want my little one to know about the journey to both of those places. The climb up or down the mountain can be exhausting. But to be the best version of who we are requires us to practice self-care, loving ourselves first, then turn and give to others in the best ways we can. Sometimes that may just be coming home and giving it to your spouse because sometimes that will be all you can do.
Who You Are and Why You Feel is Valid and Valuable
As a young child, I went through some hard times that I hope and pray no child has to go through. They were not due to poor parenting or lack of protection but rather choices made by people who saw no other option or way out. One of these was the death of my step-father. His departure left my mother and me in a world of hurt. In the past, I had spent a lot of time wondering what he was feeling before he took his life.
Through that time of our lives, and through some much-needed counseling, I came to learn what it means to be honest with what you feel and to own it. Later in life, I started to question if I should have felt the way I did. And the answer is always: YES!
Pain sucks ass. And it’s okay to say it. We live in a world where women are not supposed to be strong and men should hide all of their emotion. Not in my house. I’m a self-proclaimed raging feminist who is always looking for a way to break stereotypes.
What we internalize becomes a part of our behavioral makeup. It changes how we see the world and how we react to it. I believe that by allowing our children to see the value of their feelings, provides them tools they need to work through trying times most effectively.
Compassion is an Outward Expression of an Inward Conviction
I believe one heart can change the course of history. I know my husband is going to be such a great example of this. I consider myself very lucky to be married to a man who commits so much time to other people; all in a balance of course. The outreach of a hand to another human is moving and powerful – just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. There is so much power in compassion. It gives a surge of veneration and even in times of darkness, when our ocean seems to be drying up, leaving only the saltiness of the air behind, compassion can often be a way to restore the waves that keep us moving.
But I want the compassion they extend to do one of two things. First of all, not drain their spirit to where they are not caring for themselves. After all, we all should give what we can without giving up on ourselves. But secondly, I also want them to give compassion from the root of who they become. I want the inward conviction of their heart to lend the helping hand, to pray with/for someone even if they say they don’t need it, to take more to listen and spend less time talking. My prayer is that they expose their compassionate heart, not for the reward it may bring but from the recognition that another soul has a greater need than they do.
Sexiness is Only Superficially Perceptible and Always Fleeting; Beauty is Visceral and Deeply Rooted
As a gay man, I have had to really deal with self-image. I’d like to think that I’ve always felt pretty comfortable in my own skin. But I couldn’t be honest and say those words. I did struggle with my image for several years and spent countless hours wondering what others thoughts of me, often asking myself, “Am I dressing the way I should?” or “Are others going to find me attractive?” or “Am I too skinny to even look sexy?” I look back on those naive days and realize I was so focused on how outwardly sexy I was that it completely overshadowed beauty.
Humans are beautiful. The complexity of who we are, intermixed with our unique journeys combine to slowly reveal a soul full of diversity, talent, intelligence, and perseverance that make no story the same as another. While sexiness is worldly, often exploited and ridiculous, a measure of outward appearance, beauty is an outward reflection of internally tedious and often grueling work; created through love, kindness, compassion, grace, and self-care. It makes you want to be greater than yourself and it’s unexplainably visible to everyone else. You radiate. You shine without saying a word.
I just pray our little one turns to the inward beauty before outward looks. I hope they feel they are perfect the way they are. I pray they accept their beauty as truth, owning it, loving it and celebrating every inch of who they become.
Overall, life is going to teach our baby so much more than we ever could. I commit to doing everything I can to set them up for success, reminding them of these six important aspects I have come to learn in my short time on Earth. I pray we are able to set them up in a way where they are more prepared for the lessons I was too thick-skulled to let sink in.
And to you my friends – you are beautiful, complex, worthy and lovely.
*Note: This article originally appeared at SteveAdamsOfficial.com and has been edited and re-published here with permission.