I have to confess, something has been on my mind a lot lately that has really been weighing on me regarding the idea of adoption…
It’s about being different.
I can’t speak for other adoptive families, but all I want is to be normal. Some think that being normal is a bad thing. They fight their entire lives to be different, or outstanding somehow. I believe God has created each of us unique enough… I don’t need to fight for fame, or notoriety or attention. I just want to be normal. To blend seamlessly into society. To sit on a plane and not be noticed. Anti-social? Perhaps. Wrong? No.
Adopting outside of our race is forever going to mark our family as different. At the grocery store, I’m prepared for looks and questions. Well, at least I’m trying to prepare myself. I’m preparing myself emotionally for the fact that our child will not come from my body, but rather will be born to us in spirit. But the idea that we’ll forever be different because of our choice to adopt is not something I swallow very easily.
Some families who choose adoption become impassioned by their choice. They live in this post-adoptive state forever and fight against the world to make adoption the norm and to clear up any ignorance or misconceptions surrounding the adoption process. They make it a point to regularly discuss with their children and family members that which makes their family different (or “special”). They wear the t-shirts, slap on the bumper-stickers, and proudly proclaim their “I’m an Adoptive Mama” badges at all little league games.
But I don’t want to. I don’t want to share our story with every stranger at the supermarket. I don’t want to explain to every wandering eye that “yes, one of them is adopted.” I don’t want to make it normal dinner discussion to talk about our adoption journey, or to spend countless hours reassuring our adopted child that he/she is -special, chosen, important, a miracle, a gift, a blessing, whatever- because they came to us by way of adoption. Because honestly, I believe all children are special gifts from God. I believe they are all blessings in our lives, and I don’t think how they came to be in your life should matter as much as the fact that they’re here now, and they need your love.
This concern was sparked after I stumbled upon an article online discussing how to travel with your adopted children. At first, I thought maybe the article was specifically geared towards parents of older adopted children, adopted through the state system. Sometimes these children come with emotional or psychological hurdles, and I can see in some instances how a break from routine such as a trip out of town might be an emotional setback for these kiddos. But upon closer reading, I realized that nope, this article is for adoptive parents of any kid.
I was offended. Traveling with any kid is a challenge. Why in the world would it make a difference if our child is adopted or not? Why do I need a separate article altogether explaining how to take my adopted child to DisneyLand? Please bring on the article explaining how to get Little Bug there too, then!
So why do we -if we just want to slip into familial anonymity- have to constantly wear the scarlet A of adoption? And why do I feel so wrong for just wanting to be a family unmarked by labels or distinctions?
We plan on keeping adoption talk as a natural and regular thing in our home. There will never be a day in our child’s life where we sit down and “TELL THEM.” This is psychologically and emotionally damaging to a child. Always be honest. And, if the child is of a different race, eventually it will be obvious, and I want the issue to already be normal family discussion before they wake up one day and realize they aren’t white. If our child comes to us with questions, we’ll be more than happy to answer them. If our child comes to us at an age of understanding and maturity wanting to know more about their birthmother, we’ll happily aid them in this information search.
But I don’t want to live the life of an “Adoptive Family.” I don’t want to buy my kid t-shirts that say sweet things like, “Born in our hearts,” or “We chose you.” Not that I judge parents who dress their kids in these shirts. I don’t know… I guess I feel like our child’s adoption is part of their story, and it’s their story to tell when they are ready to share it. Shoving them off to church or school in a t-shirt that screams, “I’M DIFFERENT!” feels forced to me.
I also want my child/ren to find themselves on their own. By this I mean, I want them to define themselves based on their strong faith, or their musical or athletic or artistic talents, or their love of math, or whatever else they may desire. I want them to discover the gifts and talents the Lord has blessed them with and not get lost in titles and labels and distinctions. I don’t want them to look at Little Bug and think, “Not adopted,” and at the same time tell themselves in the mirror, “Adopted” every night.
I get that some families talk about it a lot because to them, adoption is a proud badge of honor. If that’s what works for their family and feels natural to them, more power to them. Some though, I have to wonder… Is it overcompensating for some kind of unrecognized guilt? Some adoptive parents take on the guilt of adopting like a sponge. They soak up the heartache of the birthmother and spend the rest of their lives subconsciously flogging themselves for “taking” the baby.
I don’t have this guilt. I think it’s a beautiful blessing, and I’ll forever have a place in my heart for my child’s birthmother- she is the very one who gave him or her life. But when all goes legally and morally according to plan, the adoptive parents play absolutely no role in a woman’s decision to choose adoption for her child. We are simply the recipients of this beautiful decision.
I don’t think I need to over-explain to my child how they came to be a member of our family because frankly the only part that really matters in our day to day life is that we are indeed a family. In the quiet of our home, I look forward to explaining where they came from, and how they came to us… but not daily. And not out of guilt.
Like a family trying to show that they really are “okay” with their newly outed homosexual teen, some adoptive parents will tend to draw too much attention to the fact. They mean well, and they’re hoping to instill in this child a sense of comfort and confidence in the fact that they are adopted. But I have to wonder if this is really necessary. Shouldn’t an open and honest home life, with stable routines and loving family be enough to create that confidence and comfort in all of our children?
I really hope so. Worrying over this idea that once we adopt, we need to always keep adoption at the forefront of our existence has been concerning me all week. I realize that we’ll forever be an adoptive family, and that is something I will be proud of… but I don’t feel the need to always relate adoption to everything we do.
So I’ll be skipping out on the sweet outfits that cleverly allude to adoption. The best onesie for our little one will say, “Gift from God.”