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This is not a parenting post.

In February of 2007, our lives changed when we travelled to Guatemala to adopt George. If this were a parenting post I would talk about all the challenges of adjusting to life with a 9-month-old. I would describe the journey of getting to know him and his personality, one day at a time. I would describe what it is like to fall in love with a stranger from a distant place. But this isn’t a parenting post.

In February of 2011, we travelled to Ethiopia to meet Mabel for the first time. If this were a parenting post, I would write poetry about the moment we first saw her in that institutional crib, next to all the other babies, sleeping deeply. I would tell you of the pain of that day, mingled with hope. How we watched her shut down in fear as she sat with us for the first time. Then I would describe the moments when we discovered that we were actually connecting with her little heart.

But this isn’t a parenting post.

February brings me back to these moments. When I step into those memories, they are not always “mom memories”. I look at the pictures and I see myself and think, “You have no idea. You have no concept of how your life will change.” No regrets, just reflection.

Our own worst enemies?

In premarital counseling, my husband and I took some personality tests and belief tests so that the counselor could prepare us for potential pitfalls. Our results on the “Impulsivity” measurement alarmed her. Both of us were off-the-charts in our propensity to make quick, impulsive decisions. She warned us that this could result in a hazardous relationship if we didn’t get some common sense and slow down.

She was probably right, in the beginning at least. Our pet history, our moving history, our job history, our church history, our faith history all reflect this impulsive readiness for change and adventure. We moved six times in the first seven years of marriage. We have had every pet available legally in the United States. (Well, we never had a snake, but I would have considered it if there were a needy snake on my doorstep.) We bought a timeshare.

Yes, we owned a vicious parrot who tried to eat my mom’s face. Yes, we painted apples and school houses all over our first rental place. Yes, we did our part when George W. Bush asked Americans to shop—we bought a new car. But somewhere in that spontaneous fervor to experience life without calculation, our impetuous decision-making met our dreams and some amazing things happened. Somewhere in that excitement, we took some risks that have enriched our lives abundantly. Pain and trauma accompany those risks, but they are worth every tear shed, every sleep interrupted, and every heartbreak.