Laura Wilkinson took on platform diving and made history as the first woman to win all 3 world titles—the 2000 Olympic gold medal, the 2004 World Cup and 2005 World Championship. Now, she’s diving into her next challenge: motherhood.
With the true heart of an athlete, Laura went all in as she hung up her swimsuit and threw on the baby carrier. Now with two biological children, one adopted daughter from China and another on the way from Ethiopia, this Mom got her hands full fast.
Through her blog, Laura shares her and her husband’s journey of opening their hearts to pull orphans out of poverty and into their family. Soon after they began the process for their first adoption, Laura found out she was pregnant with a baby girl.
“We said, ‘Yay, now we’re going to have two!’ And then our little boy surprised us right as we were starting the adoption for number three, who is now number four!”
As a mother to two toddlers and a baby, Laura is learning how to find balance and take the ups with the downs—the laughs and smiles with the wails and tears.
Passionate about adoption, she hopes to inspire other families and be a resource for how to navigate the whole process and transition.
“When we got Zoe, I suddenly felt a bit alienated. Not intentionally by other parents, but I felt like people looked at me weird because all the sudden I went from one easy toddler to two kids running in different directions,” Laura said.
“At times, I felt like I didn’t have people to talk to. I think that’s why I chose to write. So people don’t feel so alone in their walk.”
Of course, adding a new baby to any family can be quite a transition for both the parents and the kids.
“It’s always going to be hard at the beginning until you figure it out. Motherhood teaches you how to be truly selfless,” said Laura. “When your kids are in danger, you don’t even think about your own safety. You just jump and try to protect them.”
Luckily, this Mom knows a thing or two about the art of jumping—both physically and mentally.
“When diving off a platform, you can’t test the water to see if it feels nice. You have to jump in with both feet and take a leap of faith. You have to make that commitment even though it’s terrifying and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” she said.
“With motherhood, you have to put your whole heart in. Even when you know it’s going to get broken…because it’s life and it’s going to be messy.”
Through her years as an athlete, Laura learned to accept failure as an integral part of success. Yet unlike the black and white rules of sports, she discovered that parenting requires quite a different mindset focused not on precision but trial and error.
“No matter how much you read, you’re not going to figure it out!” Laura laughed. “My friends would tell me, ‘You just need to try a bunch of things and see what works.’ That was the hardest part with raising my kids at first—finding out there is no right way to do it.”
When striving to be a good parent, the idea can be frustrating in the beginning. Yet soon, it becomes liberating to know that there is no right way to raise your kids, no picture of what the perfect family should look like.
The beauty of parenthood lies in the adventure and uncertainty of it all. No one really knows what they’re doing—not even the people that win Olympic gold medals. So let’s celebrate our victories, talk about our failures and cheer each other on through.
“As long as you’re keeping your kids healthy and in a safe environment you’re doing good—you’re doing awesome!”
Thanks for being an advocate for adoption and sharing your story Laura, we think that’s pretty awesome too.