When the Storm Hits
Here in South Texas, preparations are underway to prepare for when the storm hits, and Hurricane Harvey has us thinking about how the storms of life affect those we know through adoption.
And it seems particularly timely, this week, in particular– not just because of the turbulence heading this way in the Texas Gulf Coast.
Preparing for the Storm
Obviously, if you’re anticipating a catastrophe, preparation is key.
If you’re aware of storm warnings or you’re in the path of a hurricane, learning what to do is a vital part of being prepared. (Click here for valuable information on preparing for a storm.)
The same is true in adoption. Learning all you can in advance and having an idea of what to expect is a great way to empower yourself for whatever may lie ahead.
For expectant parents who don’t know yet whether or not they’re better off parenting or placing, even an unplanned pregnancy can feel like the calm before the storm. They are quite literally the “mother ship” for the little mariner floating around inside them, and there’s a comfort in knowing that for right now, all you can do is (in the immortal words of Dory) “just keep swimming”– even if it’s an unsettling feeling to not know how big the waves might be, up ahead.
Any parents-in-waiting surely know this feeling. To have weathered the ravages of infertility for years, only to find themselves waiting (again/more) to be found by prospective birthparents who need them on behalf of children about whom they know nothing, is like anxiously watching the sky waiting for signs when one has great plans for the weekend yet the weather forecast is completely unpredictable.
Do you pack for good weather, or for bad? Do you shop for provisions now, or wait until later? Can you get where you’re going as planned, or should you brace for the worst and plan for contingencies? Are you ready for whatever the storm may bring, and how might it change you? Do you know how to reach out or where to go for help, if needed?
Everyone answers these questions in their own way, based on their own life experiences, but knowing what to ask is one of the best ways we know to be ready to deal with whatever the storms may bring.
Riding out the Storm
Once you’re in the eye of any storm, it’s important to remain calm. Anxiety is a normal response to any situation that feels out of your control, of course, but it’s counter-productive, so strive to minimize anxiety to whatever extent you’re able, whether through prayer or exercise or distraction or activity. (This applies whether the storm you’re riding out is meteorological or adoption-related.) If you’re finding weather reports upsetting or in-law questions intrusive or Lifetime movies on adoption disturbing, then turn them down, and focus instead on the positives and what you can control.
Self-care is one of the things that is very much within your control. Taking good care of yourself as well as others around you is essential. Whether you are buffeted by winds and rain or by adoption fears or whatever, you need to be attuned to your own thoughts and feelings and needs. Eat healthy. Get enough rest. Exercise to stay fit and enhance your own mental health. Take time for yourself, and learn to love yourself; these are vital tools for survival.
Another key to survival and self-care is being able to ask for support when needed. Whether you need a neighbor’s help to secure a leaky roof in the middle of the night or you need an adoption professional’s assurance when you’re unable to work through problems on your own, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If you’re impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the Red Cross stands ready to help; if you’re in need of adoption support, Abrazo’s Forum is a ready source of answers around the clock.
Picking Up the Pieces
No matter how fierce the winds or how heavy the rain, always remember this: every storm in life is time-limited.
Eventually, the clouds will clear and the sun will come out again. When it does, you can come out of your safe shelter, assess any damage, count your blessings, and start to rebuild again, if needed.
You may find, emerging from the storm cellar, that everything was just a bad dream, or you may find that the landscape as you knew it is forever changed.
You may discover that truly, the worst thing you had to fear was fear itself, or you may learn that you actually are stronger than you knew.
Whatever the nature of the storm, you will have been changed by it, to some measure. And whether that change is positive or not is largely up to you, for you alone control your response to the outcome.
Life is constantly in a state of change, even if some changes occur more obviously or expediently than others. Know this, though: if you survive the storm, then it will not have broken you, no matter what the damages may be. Anything lost can be replaced, short of human life. Anything destroyed can be rebuilt. And the lessons you take from this experience are yours for a lifetime.
We’re not saying it’s all going to be easy. We’re not claiming that storm recovery always comes cheap, We don’t mean to make light of the very real dangers you face when life’s storms hit.
But what we are saying is that there will be brighter days ahead. And we’re all in this together. Make this song your recovery anthem: You’ll Never Walk Alone. (If there was ever a Southerner who knew a thing or two about the storms of life and the power of faith, it was surely Vernon and Gladys’s boy.)
Because although it may be hard to remember when the storm hits, you’re not alone and there is a rainbow up ahead, so stay safe– and call Abrazo, if our help is needed.