When my daughter was born, the first, strongest emotion I felt was crushing anxiety. A worrier by nature, I should have expected that the love and responsibility I felt for this new soul would manifest itself in a sudden surge of worry.

I worried about everything. I worried about whether she was eating enough, being held enough, having enough developmentally enriching experiences. I worried about the world she was going to grow up in, and the kind of people she would meet along the way.

My heightened stress was primed during the pregnancy, which was considered risky due to the higher-than-average possibility our child would be born with spina bifida or other spinal abnormalities. But in spite of the risk and the worries, my husband and I welcomed a perfectly healthy baby into the world. A healthy baby who never slept.

The first couple of years are a blur due to extreme sleep deprivation, but I do have a fuzzy memory of asking the pediatrician at one point – or perhaps at every single checkup – whether it was really OK for my daughter to sleep only 20 minutes at a time every two hours. I may also have inquired about baby sleeping pills. He chuckled that she was growing steadily and developing normally, so I shouldn’t worry about it. Some babies just don’t need much sleep.

My daughter is 12 now, on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and she still doesn’t need much sleep. On school nights, she’s up with her dad and me until almost 10 p.m.

This time together each night has been a saving grace since we welcomed her little brother into our household; he conks out hours earlier, leaving the rest of us to enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet.

That’s right: I signed up for a second child – and double the worry.

And my son certainly gives me plenty to worry about. He is a gung-ho risk-taker who once dived, head-first, off that train in the children’s play area in the mall. And off the top bunk in his sister’s room. And from the pine tree in the back yard. I may never understand his enduring need to jump off of things – or why he so often softened his landings with his head.

He also had chronic ear infections when he was younger, until we had ear tubes put in, and now he keeps finding ways to break off pieces of the braces on his teeth (a first for the orthodontist).

Aside from the usual parental worries, I share a lot of the same concerns as other parents of adopted children. We didn’t meet my son until he was 4 ½ years old, and he had had a pretty rough life before then. Reading his file for the first time, there was a lot in there to worry a parent. And of course I worried about how he would fit in with our family, and whether we could be the kind of parents he needed, and most of all, how our daughter might be affected.

There were many, many things to worry about, and I worried about all of them. Now that my son is about to turn 10, I find that a lot of those old anxieties have faded – only to be replaced with new ones. It seems there’s always something to worry about.

There are no guarantees in life, and nobody can know what the future will bring. These are the clichés that haunt parents who only want some assurance that our children will grow up healthy, happy and safe, but who know all too well that sickness, sadness and death can strike at any moment.

It probably doesn’t help that I work at a newspaper. For me, there’s no escaping the news about North Korea’s latest missile test, or the most recent air pollution study, or the child molester who was just released from jail. I’m sometimes the only person to read some of the worst of the profanity-ridden, mean-spirited letters to the editor – letters written by people who live right here in our community – that never make it to print.

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Just how crazy are we parents, to bring children into this crazy world? And why on earth would we want to make ourselves even crazier by going through the agonizing process of foster care and adoption?

I struggle to explain my reasoning every few months or so, when my husband and I speak to panels of prospective foster parents for the Dan Fox Family Care Program, the amazing local organization that matched us with our amazing son and which continues to support us in so many important ways. We try to simultaneously warn these foster-parents-to-be about all the heartbreaking things they will probably experience, including the possibility that their foster child will be reunited with his or her birth family, while still encouraging them to go for it anyway.

But why? Why would anyone sign up for that?

Well, why not. Why not accept a little less security, in order to give a child a little more security? Why not gamble on your own heartbreak, to improve the odds that a child’s heart won’t be broken?

Isn’t that what parents do?

I know well enough that no parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. But if we are willing to work at it, and if we are willing to ask for help when we need it, and if we are very lucky, we might find that the rewards of parenthood are somehow worth the risks. Because it’s our children who will reap those rewards.

And knowing that helps ease this mom’s worried mind. A little.