Adoptive Family, Adopted Children, and a Birth mom/family.
You can’t have one without the other. All three have a story, all three have suffered, and all three are dealing with very different feelings.
We read books, researched, took baby classes and went to support groups on how to help our children understand adoption as they grow, but nothing prepared us for the hard times, and true feelings that our child would experience or the amazing experience of meeting the birth family. It can certainly shed some light on what we thought we knew about everyone involved.
These roles are described as I saw them way back when this was new, before I knew that these crucial roles even existed at all. It is difficult to have your mind so open and willing when all you want is to be a parent. Believe me so much has changed.
I am an adoptive mother of two beautiful, smart, amazing children. My husband and I adopted our first child twelve years ago, and our second child nine years ago. We are lucky, we have an amazing story, and I have learned a lot.
As the thought of adoption came into our lives I decided to do some research. I read books from everywhere. At least at first. I found plenty of books about adoption. What the process was, where to begin, what to expect, and lots of opinions on open adoption (full on communication), semi open adoption (pictures and letters through agency) and closed adoption (no contact). Again, these are books on adoption written by people that had adopted, psychologists, and/or other “experts”.
First of all, when we were considering adoption we were naive to the full spectrum of everyone involved. An open adoption was simply too scary, at this point we weren’t even sure what we would tell our child. This was all about us having a baby to call our own. Family and friends cheered us on, everyone knew what we had been through and wanted us to be happy, wanted us to be parents. Most of whom were just as new to this as we were.
During one of my internet searches I came across a website for adopted children. I read some pretty fascinating, sad, angry, and honest stories from teens and adults that had been adopted. Eye opening to say the least. These children that had been adopted as early as days old were angry that their parents had not told them they were adopted. There was not one, no matter what the circumstance, that wished they didn’t know their story. So lots of tears later we decided that we would be honest from the beginning, I mean who better to get an honest opinion from than an adopted child. We also decided on a semi open-adoption so that we would have pictures to share, and possibly a little more info without getting too close.
We filled out our paper work, got everything in order, made our photo book to show prospective birth families, had our meetings and home visits, and then we waited.
On June nineteenth we got a call that a young mother was putting her child, her baby girl up for adoption. She did not choose us, she was young with other children and on her own at the time. She was struggling and needed to make the decision on what was right for her and the baby. This basically is what we new about her when we made our decision. As a few months past we knew that she was depressed, and we new that she had been through a lot. We felt bad and we sent letters and pictures to the agency. She sent letters and pictures back and we were excited to get them. I kept them safe for my daughter with plans to make a Life-book for her to read and look at later on in life, if and when she was ready. So I was happy enough with the way things were. Birth mom would heal and we would communicate once or twice a year, through the agency of course.
Selfish? Naive? Scared? All of the above.
So we started our happy family with only minor consideration to the woman in Role 3 and totally oblivious to how adoption might affect our child.
Twelve years later I struggle as an adoptive parent. I constantly question myself as a parent, I often wonder if my children would rather be somewhere else. I wonder if they are angry at me from taking them away from their “real” family. They have used it against me during arguments, I have heard “you are not my real mom” more times than I can count. As I research the right things to say to my children I find sad, depressing stories and statistics about even the happiest adopted children. I find myself scared and alone and sort of mislead about adoption. How come no one told me the true battles I would face? Would it have changed my mind? Absolutely not, but I would have been more prepared.
My daughter is a beautiful, sweet child. She is an amazing artist, does competitive cheerleader, and is extremely smart. She faces her own battles. She has gone through an intense feeling of loss, although no one died, she is experiencing similar stages of grievance. She has wondered “why her?”. She deals with depression and being different. An amazing child struggling to figure out who and why she is. With two parents that are doing their best to help her through it all.
The birth family is facing their own emotions. Birth mom did not heal. She wonders daily if she made the right decisions. She wonders if her children are safe and happy. She hopes that they are well taken care of. Siblings wonder if they are thought about and how often. They anger at one or both parents for giving away their brother and sister. They think about how their siblings live, if they are better or worse off.
The emotions involved in just one adoption go beyond what most could ever fathom. With time comes learning, with learning comes healing. This past year has put our family in a spot that we never thought we would be in. This past year I learned that my role as an adoptive mother is only one small piece of the most amazing experience of this family’s life.