Adoption Daddy Blog Deep Thoughts Family

One Year Into Adoption…

…and my what a year it has been.

I remember watching the movie Hook when I was a kid and for some reason when Captain Hook repeatedly talked about death being the only great adventure, that line always stuck out to me.  I don’t know why that was the case, but as my kids continue to watch that great movie (parenting win) I am more and more convinced how false that premise is.  I realize it is just a movie, but movies provide a great viewpoint on life in many instances.

Everyday of our lives is an adventure, and if nothing else it is one more chapter, or page, or paragraph in our story that is taking us to the next adventure. The thing that I am learning more and more each day is that every decision we make, including not making decisions, leads us down the path that we are choosing to follow.

I am starting to wander a little from the initial premise I had in mind for this post, but sometimes you just need to write to get your thoughts out, and based on the fact that I haven’t posted here in almost a year, I guess I needed to get some thoughts out.

This has been one of the most uprooted, frustrating, happy, confusing, irritating, fun, crazy years I have had.  We adopted our little boy, we moved back to the States, I left active duty, my parents left the country, my in-laws also left on a mission to the other side of the country, and my little kiddos are growing way too fast.  Adoption has added an interesting dynamic to the whole thing as we have worked to take care of Ty’s medical conditions, as well as work out the final legal steps to get his paperwork complete.  (Thank you Nevada for making us readopt our son in your state for some silly reason.)

I actually hate that I still associate my son with adoption.  It isn’t that I am against the practice, obviously, or I wouldn’t have done it, but I really just want him to be my son who simply had a different set of circumstances for joining our family than the rest of my kids.  I don’t want there to be an added stigma or any comma when it relates to his story, I just want him to be my son, period.

To be clear, no one has made me feel there is anything different about him, or that he should be treated any differently, it is just that his story is different.  No matter how much I said I loved him when we first got him, it is different than it was with the other kids.  Not better or worse, just different.  As this year has progressed my love for him has grown stronger, and I know that it will eventually click at the same level, but it frustrates me that I don’t feel exactly the same way about him.

Fortunately, he does a pretty good job of endearing himself to me.  One of his favorite things to do now is climb up in my lap and wrap my arms around him.  It doesn’t matter where my arms are, or if I have stuff in my hands like a book, after he sits down, he grabs my arms and wraps them around him.  It is a good reminder to me that he needs that warmth and affectionate connection because he did not have it for what is still the vast majority of his life.

It is also amazing that we are starting to see some real progress in his speech.  He is starting to use phrases all by himself without prompting.  He is stringing together three words at a time, and words that have three syllables.  This may not seem like a big deal for a four and a half year old, but our lack of ability to truly communicate with him has been one of the hardest things about this last year.  No kid is great at communicating clearly, but not being able to communicate at all about basic needs and wants with a four year old will drive you up the wall.

The most amazing thing about this whole last year has been the dedication of my dear sweet wife as she is the daily manager of this process.  She has done countless hours of research, taken him to dozens of hours of therapy, searched for alternative methods to deal with his seizures, and at the same time taken care of our other three kids and our house while I was still in Japan for 2 months, and as I regularly leave town for work.

We would not have made it through this last year with her complete commitment to our family, and I could not be more grateful to have such an incredible blessing in my life.

Adoption is nothing like any of the videos we watched or the articles we read.  No matter how much you try to prepare, I will promise you that it will be different than you think.  But, I will also promise you that those sweet moments of love and affection, and the triumphs you see your kid make will completely outweigh any of the other struggles.  That has been the true wonder to me in this last year.  While the whole process has been significantly different, the end result is still the same.

I love my son.


For Love or Money? What Should Drive Your Goals?

One of my health IT colleagues has a really great blog where she dives into the inner core of humanity. Today, she asked the question “For Love or Money? What Should Drive Your Goals?” Her post is a fascinating look at people’s decision to either chase a career based on their passion or people who chase a career because it makes a lot of money. She provides two quotes which frame the question quite well:

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou

“Whatever you like to do, make it a hobby and whatever the world likes to do, make it a business.” – Warren Buffett

To add to the conversation, I would offer some different advice to what she offers. First, learn to live modestly so that you can pursue your passion. There’s nothing worse than taking on $200k of student loans when your passion is to become a teacher. It turns out that a teacher with an Ivy League education gets paid the same as someone who goes to the local community college and a state school. The financial choices we make early in life will open or shut doors to us pursuing our passion as a career.

Second, learn to find passion in whatever you do. Happiness is a choice. Making the most of a challenging situation is a choice. I still remember working at Wendy’s for 2 years. For the first 6 months to a year, they only ever put me on fries. Yes, I literally spent 6 months to a year as the fry boy at Wendy’s. Most people would have hated working at Wendy’s at all, but fry boy was one of the worst jobs you could get and 6 months on fries would drive most people mad.

Personally, I mostly enjoyed it. In fact, that’s probably why I was stuck on fries for so long. Everyone else would hem and haw about how bad it was. I made the most of what many could consider a tough situation and became master of the fries. I don’t list fry boy on my resume anymore, but my ability to make the most of a challenging situation is certainly reflected in my career. Ironically, I sometimes miss working at Wendy’s. I was fascinated by the process and ways to improve the process. I don’t miss the pay and thankfully I’ve found higher paying jobs that leverage these same skills, but I could be just as passionate a fry boy today as I was when I was 16.

The reality is that I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve ever had. It’s not a burden for me to go to work. Sure, there are days I’m more motivated than others, but I generally am excited by work. I think that’s because I find passion in what I’m doing as opposed to assuming I already know what I’m passionate about.

I guess like my friend, I’m somewhere in the middle of Follow Your Passion and Follow the Money. Passions make great hobbies and it’s great when our job is our passion, but we need to be careful to assume we can only have one passion. We can and do have many passions. We can’t integrate all of our passions in our work, so some of our passions will have to be hobbies. Embrace that you have multiple passions as opposed to complaining that your work isn’t your passion. However, don’t be surprised if those hobbies sometimes turn into careers.

Daddy Blog

Saying You’re Happy

I have to admit. I’m probably one of the happiest people I know. My wife might argue otherwise (I have my moments), but actually even she complains about how laid back and positive I am about things. In fact, I think she probably wishes that sometimes I’d just get angry and upset over stuff. I’ll admit. I just love life and am generally happy.

I’m not saying this to brag. I don’t think it’s really anything I did. It’s a feature that came with me when I was born and no doubt was shaped by the way my parents raised me. At this point, it’s really just a part of who I am. I’ve been given some gift that lets me see the best in situations. While a lot of people preach this, for me it just comes as second nature.

What’s odd is how many people say they’re happy when they’re really not happy. Facebook is the worst for this. I’m always amazed at all the happy posts I see on Facebook from people who I know aren’t happy at all. The happy person inside me wants to think that it’s a good thing that these people are trying to find the good in a tough situation, but I think there’s more to the story.

I love social media, but it’s far from a true representation of who we are. My wife is one of the only people I know who really honestly posts to Facebook (sometimes to my chagrin). I love the connection with other people, but we have to be careful on social media. It’s a huge mistake to compare one person’s persona on social media with our own personal state. How dangerous is it for us to compare our worst perceptions of ourselves against our “friends” best image of themselves?

Similar to this, I can’t say how many times I’ve met people who flaunt their affection for their spouse (online or in public places, it doesn’t matter). Shortly after, they get divorced. I think that many of these people are trying to make their best effort to show affection in order to mask what’s really happening.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against public displays of affection (ask my wife). However, those public displays have to be backed up by real affection and action. I’m certainly far from perfect at this, but I try. Take for example today during lunch. I was hungry and tired. Did I want to put the dishes away? No! I wanted to turn on Ellen and wait for my food to be ready. However, I knew how much my wife would appreciate the dishes being put away. So, I sucked it up and did it.

Of course, the real beauty of what I did is that I get the reward as much as my wife. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my wife happy. My happiness being dependent on my wife’s happiness is a story for another day.

Long story short: Be Happy…don’t just say you’re happy. (Easy for me to say!)