Cheers: One Year of Gentle Wild

Here’s to 2018. *clink*

A year ago I put together a blog to announce our foster care adoption process. I thought that maybe this would be a place for our loved ones to keep up with our journey, if they wanted to, and sharing every little thing on social media didn’t feel right. So, I created a little spot over here and we shared our news with our Christmas card message. I thought maybe we’d post a few times over the course of the year, as things moved along and we had significant news to share.

A few months in, this blog evolved into so much more. It became a safe space to share how I was really feeling and to process those feelings in writing. It is still a scrapbook of sorts, capturing our experiences so far and our hopes and dreams along the way. But it’s also a very public journal, documenting the feelings, both good and bad, that come along with this foster care adoption journey.

In December, I stepped away a bit (not just from the blog, from other social media and in-person commitments) because we had some major ups and downs in our adoption process that felt too big to sum up in a blog post. We did a lot of reflecting, working through big feelings, and making hard decisions. In the midst of it all, we took a pause from the matching process to breathe and just “be” during the already busy holiday season. We hope to be back in the matching game (and I in the blogging game) after the new year.

As I reflect on how far we’ve come and what is coming next, perhaps most meaningfully, I realized that Gentle Wild grew into something bigger than I could have imagined: a vehicle with which we can teach others what we wish we would have known. Now when I write a post, I have the goal in mind of helping readers see “the man behind the curtain” and painting a fuller picture of what this journey is like for everyone involved. You learn as I learn.

As it turns out, that’s what you needed! I’m so grateful to those of you who reached out to share how my words encouraged you, made you think, taught you something, or comforted you. Although things have been a little quieter around here this month, I still think it’s worth celebrating how far this little blog has come.

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In all honesty, I’ve never been able to keep a blog alive for longer than a month or two (I tend to be a big picture thinker who gets a great idea and then gets bogged down in the details and gives up). But one year later, I can’t imagine giving up on my little corner of the internet. If nothing else, the numbers ignite my competitive side and fire me up to stay the course! The idea that 1,300 people found even one of my sentences worth reading blows my mind. Who knows where Gentle Wild will be in another year? 

 So, here’s to 2019, too. *clink*

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Movie Review: Instant Family

Last week, Nate and I saw Instant Family with my in-laws. The film has been getting rave reviews among acquaintances in the adoption community, but poor reviews from those pesky paid critics who may or may not have any exposure to foster care adoption. 

As for us, we all enjoyed and appreciated the movie overall. Considering the storyline was based on the personal foster care adoption journey of the director’s family, the overall plot of the movie was pretty true-to-life. A couple in their late 30s/early 40s who never had biological kids becomes aware of the need for foster parents. They take the classes and get matched with a sibling group of three who was removed from their first family due to issues with drugs. Shit hits the fan as they learn how to parent for the both the first time, and parent kids with trauma backgrounds. The case goes back and forth from pre-adoption to reunification, and all the while the parents go to support groups, school events, meetings with social workers, etc. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s worth a watch to see how it turns out.

The characters were very relatable. The movie gave enough screen time to getting to know the many sides of each character. The fears and anxieties of the parents were presented very honestly, which I appreciated, and there was even a hilarious dinner scene where extended family members expressed their “concerns” that had us smirking. The kids were three different ages and had unique ways of coping with challenges, which gave a well-rounded perspective on how trauma impacts children.

Some of the second-circle characters did not ring a bell, however. The social workers were very heavy handed, and the support groups came off as judgmental, which have not been our experiences. But the relationship between the two social workers was hilarious, and Tig Notaro’s delivery of the one-liners was on point. After the first few scenes, I chose to take off my “accuracy glasses” and just enjoy the humor for what it was. 

Overall thoughts: go see Instant Family while it’s still in theatres, or consider renting or buying it later. We will definitely be snagging the DVD when it comes out!