Friday, October 25, 2013

The Reach of Adoption: House Hunting

I recently bought a new house.  It was stressful, and hard, and I don’t think I’d want to do it again while also getting married (not our brightest move).  However, it’s done and over, we own the house (well the bank does, but we’ll own it soon enough), and now we can make it our own.  The whole process has me thinking about relationships.  It was a challenge for me and my husband, and oddly enough I was more prepared for the whole situation because of my reunion.  Yes, my reunions factored into the house situation.  Who knew adoption had such a far reach?

For starters, in the beginning my husband and I wanted different things for our new home.  We both had “must have” lists and almost nothing matched.  He wanted a colonial; I wanted a cape or ranch.  He wanted a garage; I’d much rather have a nice kitchen.  I wanted an open floor plan; he just wanted something with a finished basement.  We also wanted to spend a different amount of money.  That was a lovely conversation to have.  However, I'm used to wanting something different.  My reunion prepared me for this conversation.  I learned that there isn't a right and a wrong, merely two people who need to find a way to compromise when they can and agree to disagree where they can't compromise.  It's a dice roll but hopefully it all works out.

Normally, my husband is a bit more conservative than I am.  The only time this differs is when it comes to the big stuff and money.  If I’ve learned nothing else from the past two years it’s that things can change tomorrow.  You never know what’s going to happen, so I want to have a little security net.  My husband hasn’t gone through that personally.  He didn’t have a natural parent (or two) walk out of his life very quickly with little to no warning.  He didn’t have a parent be diagnosed with a life threatening disease.  He didn’t move home because he had to, he moved home because he wanted to.  He had a job lined up after graduation and didn’t have to go through a painful job search.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that he hasn’t dealt with all of these things.  I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy.  But dealing with hard stuff has given me a different outlook.  We had to learn how to communicate and to figure out what would work best for us as a couple.  We were able to compromise so that we were both comfortable, but that was the first hurdle to get through.

Next, we combined our “must have” lists and learned to each give something up.  He agreed that a nice kitchen was a must after he attempted dinner for a whole week in our apartment.  He understood why I wanted more space when he dropped three pans trying to get a fourth out of an overloaded cabinet (story of my life!).  I agreed to find a house with a garage because it was agreed that more often than not he’d be the one shoveling out both cars as he leaves for work first.  While I can shovel my own car out, he told me he’d have a hard time leaving knowing there was more work to be done (and we have some bad winters where we live).  We both agreed that we wanted a basement we could finish in the future, but that it would be better for the house to have an unfinished basement for now so we could do what we wanted with it.  And we agreed to look at all different sorts of houses with open minds.  Again, reunion taught me the value of compromise.  Sometimes the "big things" aren't really that big at all.  In the long run, having a garage wouldn't make THAT big of a difference to me, but would make a huge difference for him.  Just like certain aspects of reunion.

We eventually found a house that worked for both of us.  It has a big kitchen and open floor plan for me, plus a huge unfinished basement and garage for my husband.  It was a house that he fell in love with and for the first time I really understood what it was like to want a major thing for a partner.  I liked the house, but I loved it because he loved it.  I saw the house through his eyes, and wanted the life he saw for us in that house.  Who knew?  I’m pretty independent, so it was an interesting experience for me.  I learned a lot about our relationship and it challenged how I thought about myself.  Apparently some of the premarital counseling sank in!  Once again, I'm used to relationships changing.  In reunion, relationships change all the time.

My husband also agreed to set some money aside in case the other shoe dropped.  We had to wait a long time to see if we were even going to get the house.  Because of my experiences with reunion, I’ve gotten to be a lot more patient.  It served me while in the “waiting period” that was horrible to deal with.  I also knew deep down that if the house didn’t work out, it would not be the end of the world.  I’ve survived much worse disappointment.  That fact alone helped me to keep a clear head.  It was stressful, but I survived it knowing that everything would be OK in the end.

Now that we’re fixing our house up (yay for having an apartment we’re stuck in for a few more months!), it’s wonderful to think of the possibilities.  I know that something could change tomorrow, but we have a small safety net under us for now.  We the support of our amazing families and friends, and we could be in this house for a long time.  It could very well be the home we raise our children in.

This house will be very different than anywhere I’ve ever lived before.  I have pictures, good pictures, of me with my siblings, ALL of them.  I can leave my adoption books out in the bookcase without worrying about backlash (which I sort of do now, but it’s still something I’m getting used to).  My sisters will all be at that house at some point or another, and I can chose to welcome them with open arms.  Nobody can stop me.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know that in my house, I get to make the rules and decide how to live my own life.  It’s truly a wonderful feeling.  Plus the process strengthened my relationship with my husband right off the bat as we learned to work through everything as a team.  I got to be his cheerleader, something that he was for me for a long time when things were rough.  I was able to help him because of what I’d learned through everything.  It’s nice to be able to say that about a relationship that recently went through a change (and yes, marriage has changed things for us).

So once again, I’m sitting here thinking about what a far reach adoption has.  My reunion positively factored into buying a house.  Who would have thought?  And it’s another step towards being my own person and defining my own rules for my life going forward.  I’m much more at peace than I ever have been and I can’t wait to see what happens next!