This I Believe: "Children are Like Flowers"
I grew up watching "Leave It to Beaver," and was always a little jealous that my family wasn't so perfect. When I got older, I realized the days of the Cleaver family were long past - if they ever were. I learned that real families come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. When we adopted our children, we imagined that they would grow up to be a lot like us. After all, we were exposing them to the things that interested us. But soon we discovered our children had unique personalities, interests, and talents. We found our expectations changing. We realized that we were not raising "mini-me's." We worked hard to support our children in areas that they found challenging and we encouraged them to pursue their own interests.
I think it has been difficult for our children, at times, to be comfortable in the Jewish community or the Bellevue School District, where expectations for academic success are high and some judge children by their GPA and what college they attend. Being adoptive parents has opened our eyes to innate differences between people and to the certain knowledge that other values are just as important, such as our daughter's kindness, empathy and sense of style, and our son's pleasant disposition, his sense of humor and musical talent. With these gifts, our children brighten our lives. I have come to think children are like flowers. We plant the seeds. We water them, nourish them and set them in the sunshine. We protect them from the elements as best we can. One day they bud, and when the bud finally opens, we see that one is a rose, one a tulip, one an iris, each bringing its own beauty to the landscape. As parents, our job is to nourish and protect, but most important, it is to appreciate the beauty in every child. In raising adopted children, we have learned that not having the genetic link does not lessen the support and love that family members give each other. Our children have taken us places we never imagined and we have learned that our love is bottomless. We have been both humbled and elated. We have learned that it is the caring, not the bearing, that creates the bond between parent and child. This I believe.
Shana Aucsmith is the president of Temple B'nai Torah in Bellevue, WA. She and her husband David adopted their children as infants and have enjoyed the pleasures and challenges of parenthood for more than a quarter of a century. This essay was prepared as part of a year-long temple program “This I Believe,” in which congregants had a chance to write about what was in their hearts. The program culminated with a moving evening in which people shared their essays.