A Guaranteed Opportunity

Today I had the opportunity to discuss adoption with a panel of resident experts. I call them experts because they have lived it. They were each adopted. I call them resident because we all reside under one roof. They are my children.

We were driving together (my youngest six) and I. So I had a captive audience for about 45 minutes. I took advantage to hear their thoughts and encourage comments. I told them that I was writing more and more about adoption and I’d really like to hear what they wished people knew about adoption. I was mesmerized by what they shared from their hearts. I could hardly wait until I could sit down and blog about our conversation.

Here, are some of the insightful, thought-provoking points that were made.

1- We all agreed that adoption is not a magic word for a happy family. There are failed adoptions, bad adoptions and adoptions that go wrong. Some adoptive parents are bad parents, selfish parents and ill-equipped parents. Some adoptive children are just as selfish and perhaps uncooperative, sabotaging the relationship at every turn.

2- We all agreed that adoptive families who thrive (rather than just survive) are families where there is mutual respect and acceptance and second chances and lots of love. There must be commitment and laughter and forgiveness from both parents and children. They need to trust each other. They need to feel safe with each other.

3- Then we all agreed that none of what we had agreed on that defined a successful adoptive family or a disaster of a family had anything to do with adoption. We were like, hey, adoption doesn’t guarantee anything and neither does being born into a family. Guarantees that are assumed or expected without the dedication required is really a myth.

How about go back and look at our #1 & #2 and remove any reference to adoption by replacing it with birth families instead. Here is how it would read.

1- We all agreed that birth is not a magic word for a happy family. There are failed birth families, bad birth families and birth families that go wrong. Some birth parents are bad parents, selfish parents and ill-equipped parents. Some birth children are just as selfish and perhaps uncooperative, sabotaging the relationship at every turn.

2- We all agreed that birth families who thrive (rather than just survive) are families where there is mutual respect and acceptance and second chances and lots of love. There must be commitment and laughter and forgiveness from both parents and children. They need to trust each other. They need to feel safe with each other.

See what I mean? Family isn’t about guarantees. Instead it is about opportunities. Opportunities to love and take risks by making yourself vulnerable. Opportunities to grow together and help make each other better. Opportunities to encourage and challenge and hold each other accountable.

Quotes from our panel of experts –

One expert said that they think grown-ups think a lot more about adoption than the kids they’ve adopted do. “We are thinking of more important things like getting our driver’s permit or getting a date.”

One expert said that they wished more people would give adoption a chance. “I think they’d like it if they tried it.”

One expert said it was nice to know he was chosen. “You don’t accidentally get adopted.”

One expert said all kids deserve a family. “I’m glad I am adopted. That’s how God made our family.”

One expert said that adopted or not, kids have to do their part to make a family work. “If you make up your mind you want it to work, the hardest part is over.”

The last expert said that being adopted meant having a mom and dad that loved you no matter what. “You just keep trying and never give up!”

There you have it folks. The experts have spoken.

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