Happy World Adoption Day! Who knew there was such a day? First and foremost, we need more people willing to open their hearts and homes to people in need (not just children). I get that, I believe that. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
This post isn’t going to hit home with all of you. This post may make some of you angry. That’s okay. Let’s start by saying I want to extend grace, and have grace extended to me, pretty please? These are just a few notes on how I’m feeling today, after seeing a bazillion and thirteen adoption pictures and smiles posted across my different social media platforms. They may not make any sense to you, and in the day light they may not make any sense to me either. It’s just a starting point.
Our adoption looked a little different than what most of you are familiar with.
It took place 10 years ago, before Facebook and social media were such a big deal. There were no coordinating outfits, no photographer at the courthouse, and no big celebration.
It was the start of a new chapter, in which the previous one had too much heartache and hurt to be ready to celebrate.
We just needed healing and time. All of us did.
Yes, it was triumphant in a sense, our adoption, but that triumph didn’t feel like a victory. No, it felt like picking up the pieces of a hundred broken plates, by hand, without gloves or a broom. You know how after you’re finished you stand back, and look at the floor? Yeah, but I stood there wondering if I’d missed a piece. Would a sliver of glass show up later?
Friend, I cringe as I type this because I know this is could stir controversy, but back when we finalized our step-parent adoption, adoption wasn’t “cool”.
There wasn’t a hashtag for it. There weren’t banners and t-shirts you could order and have delivered within 2 days.
There was grieving. Real, hard, grieving. There were days I didn’t leave the house, days I couldn’t face the world, because I wasn’t yet immune to the hurt and the questions.
There were dozens of cashiers with questions that they assumed based on looks alone. “Oh, her brown eyes”, “she doesn’t look like the rest of the bunch”, etc.
In the beginning, I cried on the spot, which was weird, because I was “tough”. But no matter how tough you are, adoption breaks you.
You break for the child, and for their story. You don’t break because it’s hard on you, even though it is. You break because of the
crap they’ve gone through unfair conditions they’ve endured.
I quickly learned how to hold my shit together until I had a chance to load the groceries, pull the car to the end of the parking lot, and sob uncontrollably into my palms with my head rested against my steering wheel. Take a deep breath, make up a reason for the tears that a 5-6-7 year old would believe, and move on.
You see, back when we went through the adoption process there wasn’t a band of “friends” or “followers” to “react” or “comment” on the struggles and the triumphs. There wasn’t a safe place to share online, or even in person. Because talking about the struggle seemed to show defeat; like I wasn’t good enough, or that I was ill-equipped for the job. Satan has a way of making us moms feel that way ANYWAY, but I tend to believe adoptive moms take on an extra burden, especially the first time adoptive moms.
The problem I have is that social media has made adoption trendy. And while I know it is absolutely not about that, I cringe at the bragging posts and the tone in which I read as I click the World Adoption Day hashtags.
Now the adoptive parents are praised. Even called Heros! Yeah, it is hard work, it is praiseworthy. I commend you. I know your strength. Adoptive parents, I’ve been there. A decade later, and I’m still there.
Adoption is beautiful, yes, indeed it is. But you guys, do you even know how messy it is?
Do you know the heartache?
When you’re in the trenches, you get it, but even your trenches are not the trenches I crawled through. Now there’s the support of blogs and forums, and just online distractions in general.
The focus seems to have shifted off of the child (for the rest of the world, not for the families going through it), and onto the parents.
Us adoptive parents don’t do it because it’s “cool”. I can tell you all the stories, I can share my tricks and tips,but you’ve got to know, it’s not cool.
Are there “cool” moments? Yeah, and beautiful moments too. What you see online though, isn’t the whole story. There are nightmares, there are tears, oh Lord, so many tears, and questions, just as many questions as tears. They don’t go away. The bond strengthens, the tears lessen, but they’re still there. The questions still come, and suddenly they’re harder to answer.
So the next time you think of adoption, would you pray for the emotional well-being and safety for the babies, and the children who go through this, and not just their adoptive parents, but the biological parents too? Because no matter how “okay” we all seem online, or how young the children are at adoption, or how picture perfect the family looks (seriously, with the coordinating outfits, I don’t have that gift!), there are going to be struggles, and only Jesus can heal that pain.
Not likes, not hashtags, not followers. JESUS.
We need more grace, we need more adoptive families, and we need more exposure to the “real” adoption process; and that process has nothing to do with paperwork, fingerprinting, and courtrooms.
I commend the adoption bloggers who are sharing their story, not because it brings them followers, but because it encourages all of us to follow Him.
In closing I leave you with the words from Jeremiah 29:11, may these familiar words bring you comfort. Know that God has already written your story, and the story for your child/children, whether they’re in your arms and your home, or in your hearts and another home:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.