I'm thankful for my life. Very, very, very thankful. I live a very good life. I am surrounded by family and friends, I have a supportive church, a friendly neighborhood, and a wonderful city filled with everything I could ask for. I am pretty young, pretty healthy, and generally happy. I have a nice, large house with a nice yard and lots of space, an all of the material goods I could need.
And to top it off? I have this family. This wonderful, happy family. I have a husband who is also a best friend, who I can talk to and joke with and who I love to just hang out with at the end of the day. I have an older son who is thriving, who is sweet and compassionate and intelligent, and who has blown me away with his resilience. I have a younger son, a little fire cracker, who keeps me laughing and who gives the biggest hugs and kisses.
And yet, as great as my life is, I know fully that there were various points in my life where I could have made different choices, sometimes even "more sensible" choices, and I would have had a very different life.
Sometimes I wonder what might have been if...
-If I had chosen a different college. I might never have met Nik. I might be living a completely different life right now. A single career woman? Married with a few children by birth? Traveling the world in the Peace Corps? Living at home at age 29?
-If I had followed through with my travel abroad plans. I either wouldn't have dated Nik, would have broken up with him, or would have tried to make it work long distance for a year when we were both still so young and new to serious relationships. Sometimes I wonder if this even would have had a bearing on my life at all. Perhaps nothing would have changed. Or perhaps everything.
-If we had been able to get pregnant easily. This one sticks with me a lot. There was a point when I used to see woman who reminded me of my old self, woman who were very young and very out of shape and socially awkward, who were also new mothers and I would be so jealous. Why couldn't I be the one with the "easy" baby? Why did they get to just "do everything right," date and marry and then baby, while we hit a roadblock? Later on I grew to dislike the young new mother. What an air of self importance! What arrogance! So proud of themselves just because their bodies can do a typical biological function! But, really, I was only mad that *I* didn't get to be arrogant and self important, mad that I had been knocked down a few pegs into the realm of practically begging for the right to raise a deeply traumatized toddler while others seemingly could get pregnant and birth with ease. And now? I'm at peace with this. And I'm so glad we didn't get pregnant, so glad we chose the path we did, because while I know I would love those children, I also know how much I utterly LOVE the children we have.
-If we had tried fertility treatments. Again, this is another where I wonder if it would have had any bearing on anything. There were enough hold ups with both of our adoptions that had we attempted treatments, failed, and pursued adoption we might very well have still ended up with the same two boys (only a few thousand dollars poorer!). Or they could have worked. And that opens up a whole new category. Would we have gotten pregnant after Paxton and thus not adopted Ambrose? Would it have been before Paxton, meaning we didn't adopt from Ethiopia, and yet we went on to adopt Ambrose anyway? It would be all about the time line, wouldn't it?
-If we had been allowed to adopt 2 children from Ethiopia. We had wanted to adopt 2 children, bio siblings, age 0-4 with our first adoption. Because of the crazy finances involved in adoption we were certain we wouldn't be able to afford to adopt a second child. By adopting two siblings we'd only be spending like $5K more and our children would have each other to grow up with. But no, our social worker wouldn't allow it and while we tried to find a way to get this changed, it didn't work out. We were stuck. And for a long time this was literally the most horrible thing that had happened to us. It felt like one of our children was being ripped away, especially after several of the remarks our social worker made. Oh, did we hate her! But there was a woman with our agency also waiting to become a mother. A single woman open to either 1 child age 0-2 or two children ages 0-4. And we were logged in just a day earlier. And we got Paxton. And she got Y and D. And if we'd been cleared for two children, we would have Y and D and she would have P. And, well... in a way, it stunk. We loved P, but those would have been our children... But we met them in Ethiopia. We have pictures of them. And we stay in contact with their mother. And I have to say I'm SO glad things worked out how they did, because man P is awesome, and man does she love her kids and they are so happy with her! And we get to watch them grow up which is fantastic! But back to the what if... if we'd adopted Y and D, then she'd have Paxton. And what if Paxton remained an only child? And what if we didn't go on to adopt after Y and D because we already had two children? Paxton and Ambrose would be on opposite ends of the country... would they even meet?
-If I had given Nik the go ahead for a job he was up for. He was very close to getting a job with a huge company in California only a few months after P came home. We would have had to move pretty quickly, to a very small house. We would have to give up on our dream of a large family and we'd lose all our family and friend connections nearby. We would have to live probably an hour from Nik's work. And the job? Was an absolute dream job. This one... this one really bugs me sometimes. Because sometimes I almost wish we'd done it, that we'd taken the risk and moved to Cali and started up anew over there, just our little family. It actually sounds kind of thrilling. But we couldn't have adopted Ambrose then (our agency then was NC residents only). And that makes staying totally worth it.
-If we had adopted internationally a second time. Again, this is another way we might have not ended up with Ambrose. We almost applied to adopt from Colombia, and then Ethiopia again, before turning local. We don't know how a different adoption process would have gone. Would we have a long a difficult road? Would we have come home with a child? Would we have failed, turned to domestic, and still ended up with Ambrose?
-If someone else had been chosen for Ambrose or, conversely, we were chosen for a different child. I know it sounds silly, but I can't imagine loving another child as much as we love Ambrose and Paxton. I can't really imagine not having them (at least, not without tearing up). But really when you're in adoption land, you do come soooo close to this way or that, this child or that one.
I'm sure there are a million other what ifs...
How many times did any of us avoid death or severe bodily harm just by taking an alternate route to the gym? How many potential future spouses did I not notice in high school and college? How many children could have become our children if only we'd signed with the right agency at the right time? How many times was it actually possible for us to conceive but we just weren't timing it right? How different could my relationships be if I'd said a wrong word here or there, or had some nasty and inconsequential falling out?
I suppose what I'm getting at is...
I'm lucky. Very, very, very lucky. And looking at all the various ways my life could have gone up to this point.... yeah, definitely lucky!
Lily in a loafing barn
5 months ago