Whether the misguiding was the fault of the people we trusted to lead us, or our own for not digging and researching and reading and asking, it doesn’t matter. None of this is tidy.
11 years ago, when we decided to start our family through adoption, we knew nothing. We were babies with sparkling eyes and open hearts. We were longing and hopeful and excited and so incredibly naive. Not purposely naive, but naive none-the-less. What we knew is that we were becoming parents and would have a child to call our own. We would love him and feed him and take him to the park. We would snuggle her and she would be healthy and happy and balanced because we would be all she knew. Adoption from birth would eliminate the trauma and the emotional strife that so many adoptions come packaged with. We were not afraid. We trusted God.
Last night, our 7 year old cried hot, angry tears. She screamed out fears that I won’t want her when she’s older. My husband and I sat with her in the dark, stunned. I forced my shaking arms around her for 20 minutes, whispering to her that I will ALWAYS be her mom and I will NEVER leave her. I will ALWAYS want her and love her.
She fought me and screamed at me until she couldn’t anymore. And then she melted and entered a deep sleep. She ended up dreaming unwanted dreams and spent the rest of the night pressed up against me, needing the physical touch and reminder of being my daughter. When she woke up she asked if her birth mom will want to see her again and made sure that it’s okay that she loves her.
Yesterday, someone told her that teenage girls who were adopted feel like they were “given away” and they feel “not wanted.” A trusted person told her this, not knowing how damaging that would be for her. She hadn’t thought those thoughts yet and still walked through life thinking she was lucky for being adopted. Because at 7, we were okay with that feeling if it was how she viewed her story. We know that eventually she would shift and feel more complex, twisty thoughts. But at 7, she deserved to feel the feelings in her own time. The feelings came last night, before she was ready. Before we were ready.
Our little blue eyed beauty is emotionally wise beyond her years and yet, she’s 7. She understands more than we imagined she could at this age and internalizes more than we’re able to wrap our minds around. She loves her family and that includes people who can’t be wrapped up neatly in a box.
Birth vs. Adoptive Family
Birth family are obscure and vital and remote and then so close she has to pry them off her beating heart. They are the beginning of her story and the reason she breathes and then their breath is nowhere to be heard or felt. Their tendencies are hers and their nose squishes like hers, but she can’t touch them or learn from them or laugh at the fact that their socks live everywhere but on their feet. We talk about them and stress their importance in our hearts and our lives but what does that actually mean? She’s 7. She has to walk with trauma we had not concept she would walk with. No one told us and we didn’t think to ask.
Adoption, whether it be birth, foster, international, internal family, divorce…it’s not simple or tidy or light. It’s not meant to be a back-up plan. It’s beautiful and God ordained and acts as redemption in very complex ways. But it can’t be one of those without all the others. We can’t speak to adopted children or adults frivolously or without careful reflection. They deserve reverence because this is their story. They didn’t choose it and if they haven’t invited you in, don’t assume you’re welcome. It’s not okay to make casual comments. It’s not okay to assume and make it your place to ask because you’re curious. Allow them to open the door and invite you in, and allow them to speak what’s true for them if they choose to. Allow them to own their story in whatever ways they need to.
Learning from our Kids That None of This is Tidy
As our kids’ parents, we’ve had to learn all these things ourselves, in really life giving, life altering and humbling ways. Our kids love and cherish more than one mom. I assumed that would be threatening to me, but I love that part of our story, despite it’s complexity. I don’t know if our daughter loves that part, but it’s hers to grapple with.
Adoption doesn’t define our family, but it has shaped us in ways we couldn’t have begun to predict. We did indeed become parents and would have two children to call our own, and we love them and feed them and take them to the park. We snuggle them and they’re healthy and happy.
But not because we are all they know
Adoption from birth didn’t eliminate the trauma and the emotional strife that so many adoptions come packaged with. Because ALL adoptions stem from trauma and no amount of love and snuggling can eliminate that truth. We trusted God from the beginning, but that trust has lead to reliance. It has lead to us viewing ourselves as adopted by Him as a means to find connections to our kids and their adoptions.
None of it is tidy, so we embrace the mystery of it all and hold fast to the foundation of enduring love that connects every dot of the origin of our family of four. And ultimately, we thank God for acting as the binding force through it all. He knows our kids and sees the parts of them that we can’t. Our daughter feels His love and that’s something we give Him all the glory for.