We adopted our bright, spunky and precocious little 7 year old in August of this year. Prior to that date, August 22, 2019, I thought adoption was this beautiful thing just short of including rainbows and unicorns. Don't get me wrong, I still think it is beautiful but there is so much MORE than just happy and beautiful when dealing with adoption. There is grief, ours as adoptive parents and the child's.
I didn't know what adoption meant, at least not holistically. I didn't realize that she would grieve as much as she did for her biological family and I didn't realize that I would grieve for the image that I thought my happily ever after would look like. Most importantly, I did'nt realize that even though we're starting a new life as her forever parents, our future would always be influenced by the past.
Adoption is hard. Even at 7, I get unexpectedly b!%@# slapped in the face with the reality of how hard it is and the she is fully aware that I am not her biological mother. Lucky for me, I'm sure it will only get harder as she gets older. I'm here to celebrate the beauty of our adoption but also to acknowledge the rest.
When I was younger, I had a plan. Good education, good job, awesome husband and three kids who were evenly spaced in age and the apples of my eye. I got some of that. I've got a good education and an awesome husband. The job and kids have been a lot harder to obtain. The rose colored glasses that I viewed my future through ended up being sat on, broken and they stabbed me in the a$$. My day yesterday included one baby who pooped himself so much that I'm not sure how he is living and happy, a 3 year old who REFUSES to be potty trained and a 7 year old who, surprisingly enough, was actually an angel for once. Not one of these children are biologically mine. I had that particular door slammed in my face during my twenties. If adoption is hard, infertility is a nightmare. However, I digress, my point is, my life isn't the quiet homemade dinners and singing kumbaya like I had envisioned.
While this is a blessing in itself. I mean, I've heard the saying above all my life, it is still hard to reconcile your expectation versus reality. Not only is this something that you have to do but so does that little person who you are adopting.
Your child grieves but they are also happy for the permanence. They grieve because they now know that there is now no way that they are ever going back to their biological family. It is the legal and official end of that chapter of their life. I don't care how old you are, that is hard to deal with. However, they also get permanence. Along with losing their old family, they know that you are their new family. They are yours forever and their is a beauty in that dichotomy between old and new.
You, as a parent, grieves. As horrible as it sounds, this wasn't your ideal child. My daughter and I look similar and people comment that she looks like me all the time. I smile and nod but deep inside it always hurts because I will always wonder what my biological child would look like if I ever had gotten the chance to meet them. This isn't her fault, this isn't my fault nor is the fault of those well meaning people. It just is what it is. I mistakenly thought that adoption would solve some of those deep seated issues surrounding miscarriage and infertility. I had a kid right, wasn't that the goal? I was WRONG, WRONG and WRONG.
As a parent, you also think that adoption will change things. Let me tell you that the only thing that changes when you leave that court room is their last name and that actually doesn't change until you get the paperwork from the Clerk of Court. After fostering my daughter for almost 3 years, I have no idea why I though s#!% was just going to magically become glitter and sunshine because we had a ceremony. Heck, the ceremony wasn't what I expected simply because she was not an enthusiastic participant. Those videos online about the kids being excited....yeah not how ours happened.
I guess my overall goal with this post is the following:
1. Don't expect rainbows and unicorns with adoption. I thought the fight was over once they were adopted after fostering. Again I was WRONG, WRONG, and WRONG.
2. Allow the kid to set the tone and talk about what they need to talk about. Ours wanted to talk about what adoption meant for her and all she wanted to hear was that it changed nothing but her name. She was afraid that adoption was this end all event that would change her life. Her life was already changed when she entered our home as a foster kid and she didn't want it to change again.
3. Don't sugar coat it for everybody else. People have this skewed view of adoption as being nothing but positive for all those involved. While I didn't adopt our daughter as an infant, I can't imagine that those who do don't have a few of the same issues and feelings. I also don't imagine that those who adopt, in addition to their biological children, don't also experience some of the same things.
Adoption is beautiful, happy, messy and sometimes heartbreaking but in the end, I love my girl and she has made our family brighter. It is not something I will ever regret. We take the emotions, mine and hers, as they come. We handle them with love and compassion while acknowledging that they are valid, even if they were unexpected.
If you, or anybody you know, has questions about fostering or fostering to adopt, send them my way. We have a need for them and if you're able, it is a rewarding experience, beautiful and messy.