Ask a writer to speak in public, and watch the beads of sweat form on her brow... and somehow, I agreed to do exactly that – speak in front of a small crowd on behalf of an organization I love.
I took the floor Wednesday morning in front of 80 people who, as diverse as we all were, shared one common passion, and that is to help children.
I had driven three hours the night before, gotten up before dawn, and arrived at the breakfast completely unprepared for what was to unfold.
This was very unlike me. I'm always prepared. I often prepare to be prepared. For me to show up without notes, props, or any lifeline was unusual.
I was asked to simply share my story – share our family's story. Sounds easy enough. I've told it a thousand times, and it never changes. Why would this time be any different?
But it was.
I was asked to detail the changes that can happen in a child once they find their forever family. Again, that's a story I've told a thousand times, to anyone who wants to listen. Why would this time be any different?
But it was.
As I shared the ups and downs that led us to ultimately be matched with our sweet daughter, I could tell the normalcy and relatability of our path was reaching people.
I could see I was conveying the truth that we were just two regular people, not saints or adoption advocates (at the time), just looking to make the life of one child better.
I could see I was actually making sense, and not simply rambling on and on about our sweet daughter.
Something was different.
The years I've spent sharing our story from the keyboard I thought might be preparing me to write a book, and I still believe that to be true. But now I see a new window of opportunity, to speak on behalf of those of us who have walked this road to older child adoption before.
Maybe I'm to be a voice for the kids in the system who are still waiting, to say these children have so much potential – to urge people to look beyond the scary paperwork, diagnoses, and social-worker jargon and labels.
Maybe I'm supposed to take the podium more often, and not let our story fade into the comfortable background.
Maybe I'm supposed to be outside of my comfort zone, to help others get uncomfortable too – because foster care isn't comfortable. Being parentless isn't comfortable. Being forgotten isn't comfortable. Aging out of the system isn't comfortable.
I am a writer, not a speaker... but I'm also a speaker (now), so let's see where our story can take me on behalf of the children who want what K has. A family who loves her. A future with endless possibilities. Opportunities to be a normal, happy child.
A chance to be herself.