Gratitude, Option B and Giving Back

For me, November is a time to be grateful. Not only is it Thanksgiving, but its also National Adoption Month.  This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about adversity, giving back and the gratitude that grows from those experiences.

What I have learned is that the most meaningful times of gratitude come, not when things are going well, but when things fall apart.  The loss of a job, a health crisis, the break up of a relationship …. these all are painful times of loss. But, when I come through the other side, I realize how grateful I am for the experience, people, learning, growth and solidarity that comes from times of struggle. And, it spurs me to reach out, give back and support others in their struggles.

Life hasn’t always gone as planned for Tom or I.  Option A hasn’t always panned out.  Adoption is a great example. While it is a beautiful (and I’d argue the ultimate) expression of love, for our family it was born of extreme loss.  Loss for our childrens birth parents – the chance to raise and parent these amazing human beings. Loss for us as adoptive parents – the chance to experience pregnancy and parent biologically. Loss for our kids – they’ve loss their culture and history, regardless of how we try to replicate it for them.  This doesn’t mean adoption wasn’t worth the effort. It IS!  In fact, I can’t imagine my life without these specific kids in our family and as my children. As a good friend said, we have exactly the kids we were meant to have. However, Tom and I need to remember that our family is built on extremely hard choices and ones we need to honor every day.

For us, honoring those choices means we need to ‘kick the sh*t out of option B’ (as Sheryl Sandberg would say).

‘Kicking the sh*t out of option B’ means raising my kids with intention while supporting meaningful causes so that others can find ways to kick the sh*t out of their option B’s.  Examples:

Bellis (mybellis.org) – This organization supports and educates around modern adoption; the language, process and well being of all involved.  As the Board VP, I’m committed to helping us reach more people with our message of choice, hope, support and eliminating shame for all involved. We do this through school panel discussions, birthmother retreats and social worker education. Soon we’ll be launching adoption network meetings where anyone impacted by adoption (hint: thats all of us) can share their stories and support each other.

Children’s Home Society (CHLSS.org) – They are a premier adoption agency that holds the highest standards in ethics and process integrity for all involved. They are also the agency we used with our kids. I want other people to have the support, advocacy, education and guidance that we experienced in our adoption journey.  In order to do this, they need to be solid financially and I’m so honored to serve on the Finance Committee to help ensure others are able to use their services.

Gift of Adoption (giftofadoption.org) – My husband is an active board member, organizing their annual fundraising event, Golf for the Gift.  GOA is a grant making nonprofit that helps families with unexpected adoption expenses. Expenses that might have prevented them from bringing home their children.  Its amazing to hear the stories of perseverance and hope.  These parents are SO committed to helping children have a forever family and brighter future.

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery (crisisnursery.org) – I am humbled by the parents that choose to use Crisis Nursery. We all know that parenting is hard. Its hard when you have support, resources, stability and a strong personal life experience. Imagine how hard it is to parent when any one of those is missing?  Then, imagine how hard it is to admit that you need help and seek it out?  I am part of the board (development committee) and I serve with gratitude; finding new ways to fund and expand our program so that more families and take advantage of our services.

For Tom and I gratitude, option B and giving back are all part of a higher process. When we have experienced adversity, we sought to make the best of it (option B). As we came through the adversity, we honored the beauty in the struggle (gratitude for blessings in disguise). This gratitude moved us to give back and share our talents, experiences and support for others as they move through adversity. And so the cycle begins again…

So, this season, what are you grateful for, how are you kicking the sh*t out of option B and how will you give back?