I had a conversation with my mom the other day that started like this: “I used to think adoption was so happy and beautiful.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I think adoption is just about the happiest and most beautiful thing on this planet earth. But, in case you don’t know this, it’s not only, just happy and beautiful.
I thought that the sad part of adoption was the time before the adoption. You know, the time where the child is the orphan. The time before I show up on my white horse, stack of adoption papers in hand. It’s supposed to go like this: Child needs family. Child gets family. Child and family live happily ever after.
Adoptive family is ever after. Adoptive family is happy. But I find myself grieving the happily ever after I wanted it to be.
I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t think babies could experience trauma. I didn’t believe that obscure memories could take ahold of a little mind years later. I didn’t get that the sadness and fear don’t just go away. I didn’t understand that the happy family we offer doesn’t just fill up all the holes of the family that was. I didn’t know or realize or want to see that just because we’re a forever family doesn’t mean that the past won’t be a part of that forever.
My adopted children are only three and four and, already, I’m repeatedly smacked in the face with this reality: This adoption thing is hard. Chances are, it’s only going to get harder.
I used to read the words of those who highlighted the brokenness of adoption and feel sorry for them, be angry at them: “Why do you have to be so negative? Can’t you just celebrate the beauty?” Yes, yes! Celebrate the beauty. But acknowledge everything else. Lay it all out.
- For those considering adoption, that we reveal the full picture of the past and the forever meshed together in beauty and brokenness.
- For ourselves, that we embrace a life that may not be the glossy advertisement for adoption we thought we bought into.
- For our kids, that we meet them with a compassion and understanding that gathers up all the broken pieces of their stories and holds them together in love.
Adoption is happy. Adoption is beautiful. But it’s not only, just happy and beautiful. Revealing and remembering and embracing the full sad-happy picture of adoption isn’t betraying adoption, it’s simply calling adoption what it is.
I grieve adoption, and I celebrate adoption. And I do it all at once.
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