I’m not surprised, but proud as can be to report that the kids’ developmental assessments, required as part of the foster care adoption process, showed them to be completely age appropriate in their motor, social, and academic skills.

Not surprised, because these kids’ resilience and ability to thrive has thrilled me since I met them. Despite a daunting start, they had sparkle and life in their eyes. And they’ve eagerly grabbed every opportunity in this new chapter, soaking in school, friends, a stable family.

Also not surprised because, at every turn where we’ve fretted whether something was “normal” or “because of their history,” other parents have cheerfully told us that their kids do just the same things. Meltdowns? Zoning out? Oatmeal smeared in their hair and flung on the floor? Check, check, check. One thing I never suspected but love about being a parent is the glee with which dads and moms dish their kids whenever they get the chance. A bit like Ricky Gervais, mean yet hilarious.

But I’ve got to be careful about this urge to be like everyone else. Having spent much of my life thinking kids, marriage, and some other core experiences of our culture would be impossible for me, normal is really seductive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great. And I am thrilled that they’re on track developmentally. But I also want to be open to their complete, wonderful selves, which as they differentiate will likely include strengths and weaknesses that don’t make them average, but vivid, interesting, perhaps exasperating or surprising.  I don’t want to lose the gift I got from my own parents, the freedom to be something they completely didn’t expect, but they loved me for it anyway.

So cheers that any damage from the neglect and abuse isn’t stopping their developmental milestones and ability to learn and grow. I hope in that way from here forward they have the most boring, predictable, and stable upbringing two nutty gay guys can give them.

Yet I also hope they’ll feel the freedom to really become their best selves, not constrained by some “norm,” but free to fly whatever flag their hearts desire.