Guest post by Kelly Pramberger

“Some people arrive and make such a beautiful impact on your life you can barely remember what life was like without them.” -Anna Taylor

My husband and I made three trips to Guatemala during our journey to become a family. In 2008 the adoption process in Guatemala was known to take one to two years to get through all of the bureaucracy and legal requirements. One thing I found myself praying for during the wait was to find someone my age who would understand the ups and downs of wishing time away so that our child could be at home with us. It was also challenging to handle infertility, to feel alone among my peers that were getting pregnant, going to baby showers, and family members that bombarded me with invasive questions about the adoption. 

Everyone wanted updates on when the baby would be home with us. What could be taking so long? It made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough to get him to the United States. It was out of our hands, but the constant defense I thought I had to put up was a lot. I couldn’t concentrate on work. I felt like a loser and a failure. God sent that friend to me. I genuinely believe it.

Hi Kelly, 

I got your email address from Diane. She told me that she passed mine on to you as well. We live close to one another. I am in the process of adopting a little girl who turns one on April 2. We started the adoption a year ago. I never imagined it would take this long. How about you? I would love to chat with you, so email me. Having people to talk to that understand helps me get through this incredibly long process and all the waiting that goes on!

I look forward to hearing from you,
Tina

We became close quickly because of our interests, hobbies, similar physical appearance (when we would go out together, people constantly asked us if we were sisters), and values. I was manifesting someone precisely like Tina. I encountered so many older women that I could chat with, but I didn’t have the connection of someone my age being unable to have a child. 

Tina and I discovered that our children were two months apart. We even found that she and her husband would be traveling to Guatemala to bring their daughter Ava home at the same time as our first birthday trip to see our son Luis. We thought it was fortunate that we’d be in the country simultaneously! What a celebration. Plus, we got to witness their pick-up trip experience. Luis and Ava played together, Tina and I swam while the dads chatted, and the kids napped in their strollers.  We ate family meals with each other. We’re still super close and very much connected with them today.

Years of friendship have included planning and participating in the ceremony for Ava’s Quinceanera last year. I am Godmother to their younger son and was present in the courthouse when he joined their family through foster care adoption, ultimately giving me the courage to try that out. We even have sister puppies! 

I often think of how much richer my life is with Tina. We joke that she’s the female version of my husband, but she listens better! Her strong faith has inspired me to look inward at some of the lowest points in my adult life. She’s always there when I need a friend with truthful advice and encouragement.

We’ve battled adoption injustices and celebrated life’s big moments together. I believe our daily texts, annual girls-only birthday trips, self-care rituals like manicures with Colorstreet nail strips weekly, meal prepping and sharing recipes, and all the Monday and Friday playdates we shared when the kids were younger helped our friendship blossom. It certainly has enriched my mental health and spiritual self-love journey. I still tell everyone she’s my angel friend; she refers to us as sisters.

If I have learned anything over the decade and a half of being friends with Tina, it is to make time for yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s ok to prioritize yourself during the sincerely trying times in your life. As hopeless as it may feel, I encourage you to find a close friend who can help you cope. Connect with them while healing. A sisterhood in friendship will significantly improve your mental health.

Kelly Pramberger lives according to what brings her joy and inspires others to do the same. Most days, you can find her entertaining her family’s Goldendoodles while sipping coffee and reading and writing from home in Western Massachusetts. Join Kelly on Instagram (@coffeeuntil).

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