The first few days in the Netherlands were amazing, but there was much more to see and do.
Monday came and another train ride- to Rotterdam as we had a bit of a change in plans- that may have brought the best day ever! We spent the day with a family that adopted about 2 and a half years ago. They showed us the amazing city, and then took us back to their home for a BBQ and one of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten (and so I am told may be the best in all of the Netherlands)! The best part of this day though was getting to see one of ‘our babies’ and seeing how amazing he is doing while we spent the entire day hanging out with this family. It reinforced everything I do at work and why I do what I do. We ate more cheese here (are you starting to see a trend yet?) and ended the evening with a car ride to Utrecht and hugs that we would see this awesome family tomorrow!
So Tuesday arrives- AND I AM IN PANIC MODE! Tonight I will host the informational session as well as the meet-and-greet with waiting families. After a bit of sightseeing early in the day, my husband took a nap and I prepared for my meetings. I posted on Facebook that I was terrified and got so many positive responses from our families that it really did put me at ease. Can I say again how amazing these “Dutchies” are?
The meetings both went great and I was honored to get to put actual faces with names and hugs and kisses! (funny side note- the AC wasn’t working great in the room and it got very warm- I felt great and was warm for the first time in 4 days- the attendees were not so pleased with it….I told them it was to prepare them for their trips to Florida for when they come to meet their baby, and got quite the laughs!!)
I left the meeting with a sense of accomplishment, but also with a great sense of responsibility, as I know I will play a huge role in each of these people’s lives as they build their family through adoption.
Wednesday brought one more train ride- this time to Amsterdam- where I was pretty much done with ‘work’ and could partake in the beauty of the country at my leisure. Today is also my 20-year anniversary, so with the help of the staff from the Netherlands agency we had scheduled a canal dinner cruise, which was fabulous! This city is beautiful! The walk back to our hotel was even more beautiful as the lights reflected off the canals, but I found something lacking here.
At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it but quickly realized on Thursday what it was…it was the feeling of security, of being with friends and family as my husband and I were officially ‘on our own’ here. Don’t get me wrong, we loved the experience, did the typical tourist things, and have the photos to prove it, but we were both missing getting to do things like the locals do, with the locals we now knew. You see- we’ve both always known just how important friends and family are- but this trip brought us both new perspectives.
My husband made a comment the first night at dinner that he didn’t realize I actually knew as much as I did and that I was as responsible for as much as I was- he actually stated. “I thought you just talked on the phone all day!” REALLY?? But for a couple that hasn’t adopted yet are in the middle of adoption on a daily basis. It really drove home how connected and quick a bond can form between people that aren’t connected biologically. We truly missed getting to spend time with the amazing families!
So remember earlier I said my husband was my saving grace- well here’s why- by Thursday I was ‘done” turns out I got sick and was running a fever, jet-lag finally caught up to me and I was full on exhausted- both physically and mentally, I missed our teenage son, I missed my dog, and I was ready for my own bed…I was also dreading the plane ride home and my full-on adrenaline filled overdrive was finally losing its fuel.
My husband reigned me right in, although I had gotten sick and he couldn’t fix that, he did make everything else better with a simple statement. He reminded me that no matter how I was feeling right this very second- that I do amazing work, I touch lives and make a difference every day and that is something I should be proud of. I may have run myself ragged this week (my own fault- just the way I am!) but it was all for the greater good.
He was so right, I love what I do, I love the agency I do it for and the other agencies I get the opportunity to work with, I love the families I have had a personal hand in helping to grow, and I absolutely love getting to see these littles grow up and flourish in their amazing families- both domestically and internationally.
If I had the chance I would do it all again, tenfold, because it truly was life-changing. The Netherlands is more laid back. Even though I was still running on overdrive during my time there, I hope I have gained some insight and will learn to be a bit more relaxed and to enjoy more without being in a rush. I guess I hope to enjoy the journey and not just the destination!
Oh, and those irrational fears- “Ik Spekt Engels”- That means I speak English- but so do almost all of the Dutchies! They truly were irrational fears, I communicated with everyone easily, read signs, figured out euros, and didn’t get lost….and I can’t wait to plan my next trip- where hopefully I am not so uptight when planning now that I know I’ve got this! And I plan on eating more stroopwaffels and cappuccino while I am there!