About three and a half years ago, I started following along on the adoption journey of Lidy Dipert of @hellolidy on Instagram. I was first captivated by her adorable children and couldn't help myself from hearting each and every photo. It was one of the first times I found myself actively rooting for a stranger, cheering her on through the ups of the process and commiserating during the downs. After having gone through our own painful (but unfortunately failed) adoption process, I shed a few tears on the day she posted their adoption finalization. It has been an amazing journey to watch as two turned into a family of five.
I was so honored to have the opportunity to peer behind the Instagram feed and talk to Lidy further about what the process has been like and how she is connecting her children to their roots and introducing her own.
Grace: What was it like to first meet your children?
Lidy: To be honest, we were so overwhelmed by it all. We actually felt very numb and detached. I remember watching them play and thinking about how darling they were. But we were freaking out mostly in the inside!
Grace: Did you meet them all at once or separately?
Lidy: When we met our kids, it was the very first time. It was a group setting - another couple was there to meet the two older sisters at the same time. There was a lot going on!
Grace: Did you know their birth parents or ever get to meet them/hear about their story?
Lidy: We knew the birth parents in passing when we attended parental/sibling visits. It's really important as foster parents or adoptive parents to have a very clear and open mind toward the birth parents. It's critical to not go in judging them - these are your kids' parents after all. They are a part of who they are and it's important to understand them, so you can in turn, better understand your children. The biological parents both were raised in the foster care system and were never adopted. They met as teens and the rest is pretty much history.
Grace: What did you hear about the children prior to meeting them?
Lidy: I didn't hear a whole lot at that point. It's very professional and social care workers can't tell you too much prior to meeting them, besides the basics. I knew their ethnicity, gender, age, health and a bit of their family dynamics.
Grace: What did you all think when you realized you were going to go from a family of two to a family of five so quickly?
Lidy: It's kind of a fight or flight reaction. I think we were just so excited and petrified that your system kind of goes on auto-pilot. You don't think too much ahead, just what's in front of you - one minute at a time. Fear can easily creep in and that can really create insecurities and unnecessary stress that you just don't need in the moment. The thing is, you tend to think about yourself more than them in those "fearful" moments, so it's best to put that kind of thinking behind you. There are kids that really need good homes and secure families. That's the most important thing to remember.
Grace: What are some of your favorite first memories of them?
Lidy: Oh my, there are so many. I think some of the most crucial memories for us were when we got to escape for the weekends and hang out at the beach. We didn't know anyone, no one knew us. It was just intimate, non-interrupted family time.
Grace: Were there any areas of difficulty as you all adjusted?
Lidy: I think the most difficult part was not having that instant bond with your child. More specifically, with our oldest two. They were two years old and 15 months old when they first came to us. They had already made so many different connections with so many different families and foster homes, that I'm sure they were pretty use to shuffling around at this point. And they didn't understand what "dad" or "mom" meant - they just called every and any male and female by this "name". It was really hard for us. We had this guilt for not instantly falling head over heels for them and hated how hard we had to actually try to bond with them. Especially when you compared yourself to others. As time went on, however, our hearts and their hearts changed. And we definitely have bonded since that first year!
Grace: Was the path to adoption smooth or were there any obstacles?
Lidy: For the most part, it was pretty smooth. All the obstacles and delays we went through were pretty typical and normal. Of course, we were just wanting it to be all over with by two years into it! But you learn to understand that every step is a necessary and important part of the adoption process, and believe it or not, you begin to enjoy every second of the experience. Because this might be the only time you really get to go through something this unique and special.
Grace: After your adoption was finalized, you decided to move back to Canada. Tell me a little about your decision to move your family. How have they adjusted?
Lidy: Right before our kids adoption was finalized, we really felt this pull back to Canada. I think we needed all the support we could get to raise these kids and feel normal again! We were both pretty emotionally exhausted. God was really faithful to us during the whole journey of adoption and all the way through opening and closing doors so we could move back to Canada. Everything just lined up perfectly. Since being back, we have settled wonderfully. The kids absolutely love it, mostly because they are so close to their Opa, Oma, aunts, uncles and cousin. We are very thankful.
Grace: After finding you on Instagram, I started to follow along with your blog. Tell me a little about blogging. Why you decided to start one, what made you eventually leave it? What have you been up to since?
Lidy: Blogging was definitely a season in my life. I loved it and still do very much! When I started my blog, my life looked very different. It was just the two of us then. I was really searching for an outlet to exercise my creativity and make a job out of it. And, if you are a blogger or have blogged in the past, you know that it can take years to establish your brand and build up relationships with sponsors. After nearly 5 years, I was finally at that point where I was making good money and work was really picking up at that time. I couldn't have asked for more. But, then my husband and I felt very strongly that we wanted to adopt. We started the process and within a year we had our first two kids.
I tried to blog, while being at home with the kids while my husband worked. For the most part, it worked really well. I would work while they slept and my job didn't interfere with my personal life. But as they got older and we had our third placed with us, I started to feel this very heavy weight on my shoulders. I really felt like God was telling me to surrender my blog and think about why I was really still holding on to it for dear life. I learned a lot of things while fostering. The ugliness of this broken world. Broken people. Broken systems. And I was forever changed. I couldn't deny that. So I was trying to live my old life with new eyes. And I just couldn't go on, knowing what I needed to do. I needed to be content with just being a mom. Loving on my babies, taking care of our household and being happy with the day-to-day things. It was really hard to let go at first, but the peace that came as soon as I let my readers know I was officially retiring was indescribable. I really felt relief and true happiness.
Since I stopped working for myself, I've still been blogging for other design blogs part time. It's still enough where I am making a bit of income on the side, where I'm using my creativity, but not interfering with my responsibilities at home with my children. I've also been exploring different avenues of creativity, such as taking evening pottery classes. I absolutely LOVE it and hope to keep that up some more! The thing is, you learn that you can still do great things, but you don't have to shout it out from the rood tops and demand attention or glory to yourself in order to find success in this world. You learn to find beauty in what you do, even when no one is looking.
Grace: Our issue is all about rituals and traditions. Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?
Lidy: Since our family is still pretty new - just four years - we have been kind of just living life day by day. I would say that family time is crucial. We always make a point to go on some adventure as a family into the city. Go to the zoo, hop on the LRT into the city for ice cream. We make the most of every day when we can.
Grace: What is important for you to pass down to your kids?
Lidy: I'll try not to sound like I'm repeating myself too much or come off preachy, but to each his own. The biggest thing I hope we pass down to our children is a deep rooted faith in God. I pray they grow up to be men and women of conviction and principle. That they stand up for truth and honesty according to their beliefs. Even when it's impossibly hard and maybe misunderstood.
Grace: Are there ways you have tried to connect your children to their roots?
Lidy: We have always been honest and upfront about their adoption story and where they came from. About their mom, dad and siblings. We celebrate their differences by celebrating things that are important to them as individuals. Being born in the US, we honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month in our home. We also recognize their roots in California, where they were born and hope to go back to visit once all their immigration stuff is complete here in Canada. Staying connected to their siblings is really important to us. Luckily, we also live in a very multi-cultural city where we have friends of all kinds of different ethnic backgrounds. So it's nice to show them how we are all different and we all have different heritage that should be celebrated.
Grace: How have you tried to connect them to yours? Did you all create any new rituals or traditions as a family?
Lidy: When we adopted our children, we all got to inherit one another's own unique backgrounds and heritage. So we get to teach them about our family history and what that means to us, as well as research and learn about theirs so they can pass that all onto their own families one day. We are a very enriched family because of the unique cultural backgrounds we share as a whole. In our family we are Swedish, German, Dutch, Indonesian, Portuguese, African, American and Canadian. We are very blessed. Recognizing and celebrating cultural diversity is a huge part of our family, never making one more important than the other.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace is a former child forensic interview specialist, reformed home decor blogger, writer and editor (who has a difficult time being serious whenever there is a camera around). She is proud to be the co/founder of Do It Well, Co.