DEAR ADOPTIVE PARENT || ADOPTION ISN'T ABOUT YOU


I'm not an expert in adoption. The years spent reading, researching, attending conferences and panels, and the adoptions of two of my children will never come close to granting me that status. Nothing short of being adopted myself would make me a credible source as to what it's like to be adopted.

I can only offer my perspective as an adoptive parent. Even then, it's just my personal perspective, and it does not hold more weight than that of an adoptee or a birth parent. The more I continue to learn, especially from those impacted differently than myself, the more I see places where adoptive parents need to step up.

With that said, as an adoptive parent to other adoptive parents, or future adoptive parents, let me also say this:

Adoption is not about you.

You are a piece of it, but you are not the piece that the others revolve around. You are the least affected, you will always be the least affected, as you should be the least affected.

It isn't about your desire to have a child. It isn't about the path that has led you to this point. You made the conscious decision to pursue adoption. You went through the work to be approved, and you must continue to work toward what is best for your child. Adopting a child is not the end of your fairy tale. The picture of you with the judge at the courthouse is not the last scene before your happily ever after begins, it is the beginning of a lifetime of work for the child you love.


Adoption is not about you deserving a child.

A child is not a reward, nor are they a consolation prize for anything you feel life has unfairly thrown your way. Children should not be viewed this way. They should not be treated this way. Doing so, among other damaging things, perpetuates the idea that adoptees should be grateful, or that they somehow owe their parents.

No child owes their parents a single thing for raising them.

Adoption is not about you saving anyone.

You're not a savior. You're a human who chose to adopt so as to create a family. You do not deserve credit or praise for doing so. Really, you don't.

Whether the accolades are coming in because you are self-promoting and sharing details or spinning an angle that is not necessary, or because others are misinformed about adoption, it needs to stop.

Shut down the comments from friends, family, and strangers at the grocery store telling you what a wonderful person you are for adopting.

Shut down the comments about how lucky your child is to be with you (here's a post about that).

Shut down anything that puts you on a pedestal for the way you have chosen to build your family. Shut it down if you're in the waiting stage. Shut it down if your child is an infant. Most definitely shut it down if your child is old enough to hear what is being said.

Adoption is not about your pain. I have heard it said many times in regard to adoption being built on loss, that adoptive parents experience the loss of biological children, loss of shared DNA, loss of dreams of being pregnant, as though everyone involved is brought together by hurt that adoption magically heals.

No.

You don't bring your idea of loss to the table as if this is a comparison game.

Adoption is absolutely built on loss. A loss so primal that it registers as trauma, even for those adopted at birth.

For those adopted.

I'm not saying you don't have pain. If you are in the throes of infertility, I have been there. I get it.

Realize that your pain doesn't compare, it can't compare, because adoption is not the space for it, as it is not the cause of it; then read everything you can on loss in adoption as experienced by adoptees.

Adoption is not your next best thing. It's not your plan to fall back on. It requires complete dedication and a willingness to continue learning and shifting perspective. Be completely committed. 

Adoption isn't about you.

It isn't your story to tell. The details of how your child came into your life belong to them, as does the right to decide if and when they want to share, and who they want to share with. Their birth parents are theirs, not yours.

Celebrating the day you were matched, or worse, some form of "gotcha day," shifts the focus completely to you and your joy, at the expense of your child's loss. A single sentence is hardly sufficient in addressing this.

You might think this comes across as harsh. If you want to say I don't know your situation, you're right. I don't, as I shouldn't.

If you want to tell me not all adoptees are bothered by their parents oversharing and acting as their savior, tell me that you're an adoptee.

If you're uncomfortable, or disagree with anything I've said, sit with that discomfort. Open yourself up to further learning and understanding for the sake of your child.

They deserve it.

Adoption is about them.



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