Scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day, this memory popped up from 2011:
“So, I was supposed to go see the last Harry Potter movie four months ago, but got a text that changed my life (for the better). Finally got to see the movie tonight and it was worth the wait.”
It’s hard to describe the well of emotion that my obscure post from more than eight years ago brought up. While I do love the Harry Potter franchise, it’s not about that. It’s about the text: It was from my daughter’s birth mother letting us know that she was in labor and on her way to the hospital. Instead of a movie date night, my husband and I set out on an 800-mile road trip to start our family.
It had already been a twisty journey to get to that point, and we didn’t know what was ahead. To be perfectly honest, we were scared out of our minds.
Fortunately, a healthy baby girl arrived in the wee hours of the morning, and we were able to meet her at the hospital a few short hours later. And two weeks after she was born, we were cleared to bring her home with us as her parents. She’s been delighting and testing us in equal measure ever since.
While my daughter’s birth was not the beginning of our adoption story, neither is it the end. As anyone who has been on the parenting journey knows, there are many decisions to make, both large and small, without regard to the way you became a parent.
Take, for example, the question of when (or if) I would return to work.
It was something I’d been fretting about for a while, pretty much since we completed our home study and began our wait. I’d listened to colleagues (including a former boss) poo-poo the productivity of new moms, and I was worried about whether I would still be viewed as a contributing member of the team.
As it turns out, when our placement came through, I was fortunate enough to have a new boss who was not only a working parent herself, but also an adoptee. When I approached her about changing to a flexible schedule and reducing my work hours to have more time with my new family, she was more accommodating than I could have dreamed.
Little did I know at the time that I was at the forefront of the rising number of workers seeking more flexibility. Nine year later, flexible and remote work options are increasingly prevalent. In fact, more than half of all employers report that remote work has become more commonplace within the past three years, and many companies are moving to fully remote teams. This includes my current employer, Boldly. Their leadership team actually seeks out and advocates for working parents, recognizing that those of us who can manage family and work are the ultimate productivity ninjas. I’ve been fortunate to work with them for three years now on a part-time flexible and remote basis. Being able to continue my career on my own terms while also fulfilling our dream to start a family has been a true gift.
I think there are a couple of takeaways from my working mom adventure for other waiting parents looking to follow the same path:
Find your advocates
Being a working parent, whether full- or part-time, takes a support network. And not just because someone has to watch the kids. You need people in your professional life to back you up, too. Look to working mom mentors and adoption advocates—especially those who have been a part of the adoption circle and understand some of the unique challenges. I had about a month between our match and our daughter’s birth to prepare my coworkers for my maternity leave—and there are certainly adoptive parents who have even less notice. Having colleagues and supervisors who were on my side made all the difference.
Don’t give up
The “having it all” trope is definitely dated, but if you want to be a working mom on your own terms after adoption, you can make it happen. If you can’t make it work with your current company, there are others out there that offer flexible and remote work positions in any number of fields. Keep searching to find the one that is right for you, and keep your long-term goal of a better work-life balance for your new family in mind.
While I’ve found work that works for me, I will admit that it isn’t always easy. I still have to juggle work responsibilities with making it to carpool on time every day, and I have to figure out how to occupy the kids when they have a day off from school and I’m working in the next room. It’s manageable, though, because I have the flexibility I need to be the mom I’ve always wanted to be.
My sweet daughter is now eight years old and the life of any party, complete with her wild curly hair and bubbly personality. She doesn’t remember a time when I haven’t been able to be present for her, whether it’s picking her up at the end of the school day, showing up for her assemblies or field trips, or just being with her if she’s ill.
Just recently, her after-school dance club held a performance for the parents at 4 p.m. on a weekday. Because of my flexible schedule, I was already finished for the day, and I was in the front row giving her the thumbs up as she took the stage. (Yes, she rolled her eyes at me. She’s eight.) The group started freestyling before launching into their hip-hop routine. Let’s just say there was a lot of flossing and other Fortnite-inspired moves—cue the parents’ turn to eye-roll and chuckle to one another.
Eight years ago, I longed for the day I would be a mom, and I would have never imagined that that kind of moment would be possible. Now it’s my life. What a blessing.