Friday, June 18, 2010

Adoption ramblings

I realize that for me to say "I've learned so much about adoption since we began serious research 6 months ago" is very much like an 19 year old rolling her eyes and saying "When I was 18, I knew, like, NOTHING about the REAL WORLD." And yet, I'm saying it! However, the more I learn, the more I realize I have SO MUCH to learn and experience. I think some of my friends and family who read my blog will not hop around when I post a link, so I want to ramble a bit about changes in my heart and mind and opinions I've formed--SO FAR. :)

*Adoption can be painful. I know I didn't realize the depth of complication involved in the world of adoption until I started exploring that world. My view of adoption came primarily through other adoptive parents, and now through my own lens as a pre-adoptive parent. It was all roses and happy endings. I have seen and know of MANY adoptive situations that are beautiful, blissful and completely successful. But I hadn't given much thought to the pain, hurt, loss and anger that might be a reality for some birth parents, or especially adoptees. There are numerous blogs out there by adult adoptees, and to be honest--many of them are hard to read. Some are very angry. Some are thought provoking. I imagine that adult adoptees who have very few issues pertaining to their adoption or adoptive parents don't feel the need to write a blog about it. Harlow's Monkey is a blog by an adult adoptee who has some harsh words--and warnings--for adoptive parents. Another blog, by an adult adoptee from Korea, shares some of the horrid things people have said to her as an Asian girl/woman. It is rough to read, and I can only imagine how rough to experience.

Overall, my take away from the view of these adoptees is that the grief of losing one's biological family (and often one's culture and country) is not necessarily erased by a loving adoptive family. Most of the time, a loving family can heal greatly. But as adoptive parents, we will need to acknowledge that grief, validate it, and try our best not to take it as an attack on our family or our child's happiness in general. Wondering and wishing about his/her birth mother, does not mean my child resents me, but just that he longs for identity in a way I will never truly understand.

*Adoption can be difficult. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I had given very little thought to the difficult transition children face when they are adopted. Actually, "transition" is a soft word. Let me be perfectly frank: our child will be a toddler when we bring him home. (From now on, I'm going to use the pronoun "he" for ease.) He will have lived with one foster family for most of his short life, having a loving father and mother figure, be fed and clothed and loved. Then one day, 2 strangers who look weird, dress funny, smell bad (to him) will get all up in his personal space and take him away from everything and everyone he's ever known. It will probably feel like being kidnapped. We'll force him in an enclosed space (airplane) for 14 hours, strap him in an unknown contraption called a car seat, and introduce him to a bunch of new strangers, feed him weird food and never take him back "home." It will be extremely traumatic--probably for him and for us!

I really appreciate the honesty on Button's blog. Button's mom, Rosemary, shares what a rough time Button was having attaching to her during that first month home. But Rosemary has also written about the huge strides they have made. And I have huge respect for April, who is single-parenting while her husband is deployed to Afghanistan. One of my first and favorite Thai adoption blogs is by Robin and Kyle, who also share about how tough those first few months were. But now, their little boy Tea is doing amazingly well, is completely adorable, and is getting ready to welcome home a little brother from Thailand!

*Adoption is not the only answer. There's an adoption blog called Our Little Tongginator that I have linked to the right. It is not an exaggeration to say that her post on Love and Adoption, taken phrase by phrase from I Corinthians 13, changed my world--or at least my pre-adoptive mindset. But the one that really, REALLY made me think was her post on God and adoption. I don't fully agree with all of her opinions, but the concept she asserts is that adoption is not THE answer. "I believe that God's first choice is for all children to grow up within the loving arms of their biological families." Adoption is a redemptive response to a tragedy, and it is only one of many responses.

As Christians, we are not all called to adopt. But we are all called to take care of orphans and widows. Take care of them--not necessarily adopt them. My take away from Tongginator Mama was that, as an adoptive parent--and even more, as a follower of Christ--I should urgently feel the need to help orphans in this world in many ways. We are choosing to adopt ONE child, and I feel strongly that this is God's will for that child's life and for ours. But what if there was a way for my family to help more children avoid the pain of losing their biological family because of poverty? THERE IS! We can sponsor a child, helping to provide food, clothing and education to a child, so that he can stay with his family. Two of my favorite and reputable sponsorship programs are Holt International and Compassion International.

Many of us have heard the statistic that if 7% of the world's Christians adopted a child, there would be no more orphans in the world. My new friend Sarah a wonderful realization: what if the 93% who are not called to adopt would come alongside those who are? And I'll take it even further: what if [any large percent] of Christians in this world became more active in caring for orphans and reducing poverty--and reducing the need for adoption--in this world? Can you even IMAGINE the impact?! I challenge you to take a step towards educating yourself about the options for caring for the orphans of this world. And please share with me if you have ideas or know of organizations that are making a difference in this way.

*Adoption is beautiful. OK, this is not necessarily new information, but it has been confirmed to me over and over and over again. I'd be remiss in all my blog shout-outs without mentioning one of my most inspirational friends & bloggers, Kristen. This morning she had a great post on her blog about all the things she'd like to tell the world about adoption. Kristen has now become rather famous, and I'm glad to say that we were blog friends, and maybe even real friends, before she had her own driver. Her post today was sweeping and yet specific about adoption issues. You can feel her passion and love for her children and for adoption. But my favorite thing she said, something that gets to the absolute core of "Why are you adopting?" is simple and powerful: "The love of a family is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT." It is this foundation that drives me and excites me in this adoption journey.

And? I will continue to learn...

4 comments:

nabz said...

thanks jen for this very honest and real post. we have been feeling so many things about us possibly adopting and i have been coming to grips with the fact that may be the best thing we can do is help an orphan financially. adoption is beautiful, but i am not sure we are called to this, even though we want to. thank you for taking us on your journey and in turn helping us along the way! :)

Rory said...

You're right on with this. I have so much I want to say in response, but will narrow it down. Ha, right.:) Something I've struggled with the most on our own journey is what you noted in the end: the best place for a child is in their biological families. As a mother, this is especially painful...to think of being forced to give up my child due to poverty (in many countries.) So unfair, so traumatic, so damaging. I used to think the term orphan meant the child was truly parent-less, but often that is not the case. It is complicated, to be sure, with no simple answers. I wholeheartedly agree with you and aggressively support/look for other ministries to support that keep families together and give them a chance to thrive (like the ones you mentioned.) And still, at the end of the day, there are children RIGHT now who have been relinquished into orphanages/foster care, etc. They need a home. An institution of any kind is no place for a child to spend their lives, no matter how caring and wonderful a place it is. That being said, I agree that while adoption isn't for everyone, supporting orphans IS, and we should do that in all the multiple ways you listed. So proud to be a part of the journey with you!:) Thanks for continuing to share your heart!!!

Diane Davis said...

i say this with all sincerity.... i am just so proud of you. all that you are learning, being willing to ask the hard questions, not having to fit things in a neat and tidy box.... but STILL stepping out in love. just so proud you are my friend.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Um, hello? We are totally friends in real life. :)

And yeah. What Diane said.