Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.
September 17th, 2014 by Dani

I won’t say we’re on an “adoption journey”

We’re not on a “journey”, even though that’s a common way to describe Big Life Movements. Indeed, life is a trip of sorts, and even those of us with no faith whatsoever recognize that we are coming from somewhere and going to somewhere, eventually, even if that destination is unknown. But “journey” is also reminiscent of champagne-soaked bachelorettes crying in the backseat of a limo after being sent home “It was an amazing journey! waaaaaaaahhhhhh” or 40-year-old pop stars talking about what it was like to be less famous than they are now. “You know, when I was in that place on my journey, I was just hungry for more, and now I get to help other artists on their journey, which is like, whoa.”

green lakes hike

Hiking. I think this would be considered a “journey”, because let’s face it, it’s not that difficult and there’s beer in the car at the end. 🙂

Maybe our frivolous usage of the word “journey” is actually because of its origins: derived from the Anglo-French word “jur” or “day”, which, in the mysteriousness of language, became “jurnee” – so it means, essentially, a day trip (and, notably, one that does not always have a destination, and could sometimes be just a walk or a trip with no particular end in sight). Maybe “journey” isn’t a very deep descriptor because it was never intended to be.

So, although I’ve been tempted, and others have called our adoption process a “journey”, I have decided that it’s simply not an adequate word. I went searching for a new descriptor, and found some gems: quest, expedition, pilgrimage. I like these because they speak of an end goal. We aren’t trudging down a dusty road with no end in sight or taking a leisurely day trip, we’re focused on a goal, no matter how far we might be from it. Like the faithful making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Lewis and Clark with their eyes on the Pacific Ocean and John Wesley Powell on a quest to see the Grand Canyon – these are adventurers with serious ends in mind, who might find themselves far from their destination but never forget where they’re going. These are people whose pain is trivial in light of their object, who bravely overcome because the treasure they seek is far superior to anything they could have found back home.

When I think of examples like these, I realize that Adam and I have been on an expedition the last few years. We yearned to buy a house with land and adopt, and as soon as we figured out how to accomplish that and where to start, we’ve been slowly, steadily climbing mountains and crossing rivers to get there. It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been listless wandering or frivolous vacationing either, and even when we’ve felt discouraged, we’ve had the dream in our hearts to keep us going.

I think that words matter deeply, and the words we choose to describe these events help us to process, define and contain them. So I’m excited to call this an adoption expedition, or more honestly, a family expedition. Because like climbing Everest, crossing the Sahara or traversing the U.S. for the first time, this is an expedition that is not for the faint of heart, but one that we’ll rejoice to tell others about, just as those brave explorers did. Maybe just as Lewis and Clark made maps of their travels and enabled future Americans to make their homes in the mountains and prairies of the west, so our expedition can also encourage someone to take that first step: buy a canoe, hire a guide, say a prayer, and let’s do this thing.

“I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life.” ― Meriwether Lewis

“Boys, be ambitious. Be ambitious not for money, not for selfish aggrandizement, not for the evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for the attainment of all that a man can be.” ― William Clark


One Response to “I won’t say we’re on an “adoption journey””
  1. Yes, Dani, words matter. I appreciate your willingness to share with us the process and heart of adoption. It’s not a quick decision, nor an easy one, but a focused and courageous dedication to share your life with a child. Our daughter Christina and her husband are talking about possibly adopting. I will tell her about you and your blog. Your love for words helps me better understand what she might be feeling.

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