I spent a long time trying to pretend that adoptive parents were like any other parent. I was scared that people thought my love might not be as real or valid as it would be with a biological child.
I am over that. Who the heck knows how to quantify love? Love is not comparable or measurable. Loving my kids is the easy part. It’s a walk in the park. It’s a vacation.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Being an adoptive parent is absolutely, hands down, no doubt NOT the same as it would be had I given birth to my boys.
We all parent and love each individual child differently, right? We do our best to meet their needs and you better believe that the needs of an adoptive child are different. And it’s only in acknowledging those differences (my children were removed from their first mother; HUGE difference) and tending to my children’s needs that I become the mother my boys need.
It is National Adoption Awareness month. I continue to learn from adoptees, which can be really rough reading post after post on Instagram about the pain they’ve experienced because they were adopted. And I’m not only talking about stuff kids said on the playground to them, or not seeing families like theirs talked about in school. I’m talking about the pain they experienced because of the trauma of being removed from their first family, and then being with adoptive parents who are not equipped to parent in the way their child needed, nor are they willing to become equipped.
But, I’m not gonna lie, I also feel pain for their adoptive parents.
I’m so sorry if that’s wrong or misguided. But I sympathize with them. Perhaps not with all of them. But surely, some of them must be like me?
Knowing the intimacy of adoption.
Knowing the wait.
Loving with a fierceness that enables us to try time and time again to get it right by understanding the needs of our children. We will get it wrong. We’ll have egg on our face, but we have to keep trying. Again and again.
I know the intentions of many adoptive parents are not misguided, but I also know that so much of the adoption industry IS misguided and that leads to shitty outcomes for adoptees, birth parents, and yes, for adoptive parents. The best of intentions doesn’t give us a “get out of jail free, love is enough “ card. The best of intentions doesn’t translate to parenting gold.
I too have THE best intentions as a parent and yet, I love (not a typo) in fear of the day my boys turn away and tell me I didn’t do it right. This is a real ever present fear.
Reading adoptee’s posts on Instagram is not for the faint of heart. The honesty tears at me. As a mom I am trying my best. But that doesn’t make my missteps or lack of acknowledging my adopted child’s needs and experiences any more excusable.
I don’t want to justify and share what my husband and I are doing as parents to hopefully be what our kids need us to be. Sometimes it feels like I need to.
And maybe I do. Maybe that’s part of being an adoptive mom….doing more. Proving something.
Social media is a great place to learn. I am learning a tremendous amount and I’m feeling big feelings….
Am I meant to feel defensive, embarrassed, defeated and shamed b/c we chose adoption? I feel those things when I read certain adoptees experiences.
Maybe I am.
Are we, as adoptive parents, meant to be made an example of? Or written off if we don’t learn and adjust and adapt our parenting?
Yes. I do believe that.
Do adoptees want to listen to me?
Adoptive parents will always exist. Maybe they’ll listen?
Should we be held to a different standard than other parents?
Yes, I think so.
If the research shows that adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide, 2-3 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, that adoptees may struggle with identity, abandonment, secure attachment, then yes, yes we should be held to a different standard.
The adoption education needed to complete a home study should be more comprehensive and regulated in some way, and adoptive parents should want this. We should be clamoring to learn more, in the hopes that it will inform how we parent our beautiful babies.
I didn’t know enough. I still don’t. What I do know is adoptive parents need to put in the work to learn, honor birth families, promote change in the adoption industry. We enter the process with vigor and determination; the paperwork, the background checks, the profile books, the home study…..that same attention to detail and determination can be be applied to learning more and doing more, and advocating for adoptees, birth families, adoption reform.
For me. Adoption can be contradictory things at the exact same moment. It is pain and grief. It is love and joy.
For many adoptees and birth families it is ONLY pain and grief.
Adoption means different things to different people.
Depends who you ask, huh?
No one person’s experience is less valid.
But one group’s experience dominates the adoption narrative. And that’s my experience, as an adoptive parent.
Adoption is a contradiction, an oxymoron.
Adoption, for me, IS part love and miracles.
Right now, adoption is ALSO a painful mess that I can’t stop consuming as I read and reread adoptees’ Instagram posts. I’m trying to preemptively fix all the mistakes I haven’t even made yet and patch up the brokenness I have created through my missteps and not knowing more.
Adoption is also my children. Maybe not only MY children (they each have a birth/first mother) but absolutely my children, as I live and breathe and love.
You can’t enter into adoption thinking your story matters more. Or that the new family that’s been created through adoption is the only family for your child. I still have to remind myself of that. I’m doing my best.
Im scribbling this as I lay on my son’s bedroom floor listening to him breathe as he sleeps peacefully, lit up only by the light of his lava lamp. My other son is giving my husband hell in the other room :)
My boys. I’m so proud to be their mom. It’s the greatest of all things.
I whisper to my sleeping boy;
l am here no matter what.
I am so proud of you no matter what.
and a mama kiss.
Perhaps not the mama you’ll end up wanting, but one mama (one of two) that will love you know matter what. Xx
It is National Adoption Awareness Month.
Adoptee to follow or learn from; Your best bet is checking out @therapyredeemed (on instagram) post where he lists 80 adoptees to follow. Apologies for not tagging all 80 myself.