The thing about adoption is that every story is it’s own story that is just as unique as the people involved. People seem have this uncontrollable urge to box people up and categorize them. For some folks it’s a simple method of skin color. Further divisions include gender or education or economics. It’s really quite amazing the methods people can develop to separate and judge and criticize other human beings.
I never realized how much I detested this common practice until I became a mother. “Do NOT try to fit my child into a box!” I wanted to shout to the world! Do not attempt to determine who they are now nor who they will be in the future by your definitions and limitations.
This applies to adoption as well. I’m constantly seeing opinions concerning the people in what is referred to as the adoption triad. This would be birth parent, adoptive parent and adopted child (adoptee). This month, being National Adoption Month, I’ve read a lot of differing points of view. Sadly, it appears that this tendency to categorize has found it’s way into the adoption community. I have a few things to say about that and this is my blog, so I think I will have at it.
There are some who are indicating that an adoptive story can only rightly be shared by the adoptee themselves as it is their story alone. I disagree. While I am very careful to respect their privacy, the adoption of my children is also my story. This is a testimony to the fact that we are connected, bonded and blended as a family. Our stories do not stand independent of each other. We have been woven together, intertwined and as a result, we have a story that includes one another.
I believe it is these retched attempts at categorizations that discourage many folks from exploring the option of adoption. All foster children are like this. All black children are like this. All birth mothers are like this. All adoptions are like this.
A birth mother is not necessarily a powerless victim no more than she is necessarily a heartless villain. They are people, human beings with unique challenges and struggles and strengths. They do not fit in a box no matter how tidy that would make things. Now, substitute that word birth with foster or adoptive or step and the same applies. We are not necessarily anything except what we choose to be.
Closed adoptions, open adoptions, foster adoptions, familial adoptions, international adoption, domestic adoptions, older child adoptions, private adoptions, infant adoptions, sibling group adoptions, so many different possibilities. Each with their own unique story.
I can tell you my experiences, you can tell me yours, but they are not necessarily the story that the next family being formed through adoption will experience. Here’s the bottom line, adoption is a beautiful way to build a family. There are no guarantees about when and how that will happen no more than when a family is being built by birth.
When it comes to my children whom I have adopted, they won’t be easily categorized and I’m glad. They have tasted the freedom and power of choices. They can choose how they talk and act and live. They aren’t defined by the color of their skin or the area of the United States that they live in. They won’t be limited because they each experienced foster care. They won’t climb into a box and be labeled so that sweeping generalizations can be more easily applied.
One thing that I have learned as an adoptive mother of seven, is that each child is an individual with their own personality and their own reactions and their own voice. What they say with words or actions may not necessarily be what you expect to hear.
One of my young adult sons had fire in his eyes a couple if weeks ago when recounting to me a conversation with a co-worker. They want to know if one of our other sons, close to his age was really his brother. He said he was careful to be polite and explained that being a real brother was not about shared blood. But, the person would not hear him and insisted that blood relation was the only ‘real’ relation. My son was infuriated at the closed mindedness and said to me, “What’s wrong with people?” He felt as if he were being challenged that he couldn’t possibly be satisfied with a family like ours. I told him that people just don’t understand because a most people have never experienced a family like ours.
Does blood relationship mean true relationship? Not necessarily.
Does adoption mean a child was unwanted? Not necessarily.
Does adoption involve a lot of money? Not necessarily.
Do birth siblings always need to be kept together? Not necessarily.
Does every birth family need to be preserved? Not necessarily.
Does every adopted child long to meet birth family some day? Not necessarily.
Does an adoptive parent feel threatened if their child shows an interest in their birth family? Not necessarily.
Does every foster child struggle with behavioral issues? Not necessarily.
Does every adoptive family look like a Hallmark movie? Not necessarily.
Does there have to be an open relationship between birth and adoptive families? Not necessarily.
Oh my word, I could go on and on and on. Do you know why? Because when it comes to families, there are as many variations as there are individuals involved. They’re like snowflakes. Beautiful and rare and delicate and lovely to behold on their own but a force to be reckoned with when pressed together firmly.
That’s about where we are as a family right now, pressed together firmly. Try to separate us and we will likely disintegrate, form us together and we can strengthen each other. No matter how your family was assembled, don’t allow people to disassemble you into their little boxes of judgement.
I can’t guarantee that your adoption experience will be like mine. I can’t guarantee that being a parent will stretch you beyond what you thought was possible. I can’t guarantee you that your children (adopted, birth, step, foster) will appreciate what you do, love you in return or make the right choices. I can’t guarantee that your heart won’t be broken.
All I can guarantee you is you’ll never know until you try. You’ll never have the chance to experience the joy nor the pain. You’ll never have the chance to succeed nor fail. You’ll never have the chance to lose what you are not willing to fight to gain.
Well, on the other hand, you might be better off playing it safe, but…. Not necessarily.