Just over two years ago, I sat down and wrote out my life list (a "100 things to do before you die" sort of thing). Soon after, while thinking about a quote from The 4-Hour Workweek where Tim Ferriss asks his readers to consider which of their goals would make all the difference, I realized that for me it was Goal #16, to adopt a child.
I was definitely feeling more compelled to pursue this dream, but it wasn't until May of 2011 that I finally decided to move forward with it, with the intention to adopt a child from foster care. By January of 2012, I was contacted about two children who soon moved into my home and who, by June, had moved out again. By October, two more had come and gone.
Now, I'm not sure I can explain how this whole experience has affected me. I think I'm still processing. I can't quite make heads or tails of it. Whether I think about it from the kids' perspective (Did I help them or do more harm than good?) or from my own (Would I do this again, if I had it to do over? Has this made me too fearful to move forward with another child?), I can't decide how I feel about it.
I once feared that my heart had become too guarded for me to be able to open it to a new child, but after the last two children, I know this isn't true. A heart, I've discovered, has the ability to love in spite of fear. The part I still question, is how many times a heart can break before a soul dies. I cannot be sure. Maybe the soul will prove just as resilient.
But, as I've waited for these kinds of answers, my life has waited as well. I've found myself in a holding pattern — too afraid to continue on the current path, but even more afraid to venture away from it.
So, What of This New Year?
I know I cannot move forward with adoption right now. If I'm honest, I question whether I ever will. People will tell you, "Sure, you can," or, "Sure, you should," but that's too personal a decision for someone else to answer, and every answer is both the right one and the wrong one.
For now, I cannot personally move forward on that path, which was a hard enough reality to face, but once I did, I wasn't sure where else to go. Well, that's not entirely true. I had 99 other dreams at one time. I just didn't know if I could or should go anywhere else.
If I went down another road, pursued other dreams, would I ever come back? If I didn't, would I be okay with that?
If I abandoned this path, did that somehow make me a bad person? I'd be lying if I said I didn't care if other people thought so, but I was more concerned about the judgment I might face when I looked in the mirror.
And, how could I move on with other goals and dreams that now seemed so trivial? No, not all of them were as arguably inconsequential as, say, going without TV for a month, but would everything now seem silly and self-indulgent?
I sat in the middle of the road, still not knowing where to go.
I think it's easy to get hung up sometimes at points along our journeys. Maybe we fail at something in a big and public way, maybe life beats us up a little, or maybe we feel like we've let someone down. I'm not sure redemption is what we need necessarily, but we do need peace in our hearts and minds around those "hang ups." The question is, what do we do in the meantime, while we're waiting for healing or answers or redemption or peace? Do we just sit and wait in the middle of some road we no longer can or want to go down, or do we pick up and start walking again? And, if we do, does it matter the direction?
For the start of the new year, I had hoped (like all others before it) that I would have resolutions, answers, a plan. Instead, I only have questions. My only possible marker comes in the form of a quote from Simple Abundance: There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
This must be one of those years.