There’s this phrase that people say about adoption and honestly… it really bugs me… For a long time I thought it was only the inexperienced, the people who’ve never been through it and only have a fairytale picture of what it actually is like, who were saying this, but recently I’ve heard those who actually are adoptive parents say it too. And to be fair – the statement isn’t wrong… but it over simplifies a much more complicated thing… and that’s what bothers me.
“Adoption is such a beautiful thing.”
Oh how often I hear those words and it makes me cringe… Yes. Adoption can be a beautiful story. It’s obviously often a story of love – the love of a birthmother who put her child’s needs before her own desires and the love of new adoptive parents for this tiny precious human. It can be the story of a couple who long awaited their first child through years of infertility and waiting finally becoming a family. It can be the story of a couple bringing a child out of an orphanage into their home or providing a safe stable home for a child growing up in chaos. And those are all beautiful things… but it forgets the heartache, the pain, and the loss that so often comes with it.
It fails to recognize all those couples who go through scams or repeated failed matches. And let me tell you – those stories are heart wrenching. Stories of couples who travel states away to get to know a birthmother and her other children. Who are present for the labor and birth. Who cut the cord and even name the child. Who care for that baby for the first 24 hours. But then at the last minute the mother changes her mind and that couple has to go home empty handed and heart broken.
It fails to acknowledge the families who begin the process of adopting internationally. Who meet their child. And then suddenly the laws change and they cannot bring their child home. Now they have to find lawyers and a way to stay until things are completed. They have to fight tooth and nail for their right to bring that unclaimed little one home.
It fails to note the reality of the family that adopts older children. Children who’ve endured chaos and fear and traumas that this family now has to work with. It doesn’t acknowledge the therapy sessions attended or the doctors visits to find answers. It may require many a tear filled morning being dropped off at school or melt downs at night when you lay your child to sleep as they fear being abandoned once again. It doesn’t show the constant fight to let that child know they are wanted and loved and safe and will never be abandoned again.
It fails to respect the intense loss of the birthmother… the pain of not watching that precious little being that she carried safely inside her for nine months go through those milestones and grow up. It means always having a piece of her missing… always wondering how that child is… where that child is… who that child is… It means living with that loss day after day for years. And if she does have contact with the adoptive family it means feeling those pains and twinges of sadness and loss all over again with every new update… with all the things she knows she’s missing out on experiencing with that child. That birthmother’s loss is rarely recognized… she’s too often written off as unfeeling and uncaring or irresponsible but that so often is not the case. And that reality breaks my heart.
And then there’s the child… oh please let’s not forget the child… Let’s not forget their loss. It doesn’t matter how loving their adoptive family is – you have to understand – they still are experiencing a loss. A loss of their family of origin. Of the way things might have been. They may be experiencing a loss of culture or heritage. That child may wonder who she looks like – where she got her round nose or her almond eyes. There are going to be pieces missing for that little one and they may become more important to them as they grow older… as they have questions for themselves and their future families.
So yes – adoption can be beautiful… There are not words to fully convey the blessing Marlee is to us or the love we have for her birthmama. But it was a hard and painful road that led us to our perfect little girl and truthfully, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hurt for what was lost for both Marlee and her first mom… So while I won’t be scolding you or telling you that you’re wrong. But please know – it’s a huge disservice to oversimplify something so complex by narrowing it down to one simple word.