I heard the term “shades of gray” throughout my childhood, more frequently in adolescence, when my mom, full of a wisdom I couldn’t yet fathom or appreciate, struggled to impart nuance and perspective to me. I was a stubborn one. I dug into my childhood, somehow understanding that it was fleeting. I chose to see my world in “black and white,” devoid of complication or those ever present shades of gray. My mother often said I was naïve.
Little did I know what the future held for me. I would marry, give birth, struggle to conceive again, lose a child, and adopt three times (we think we’re done). I would discover that my children are sacred gifts (like all children), that much more so for the pain of bringing them into the world and overcoming the hurdles to bring them home. I would come to realize that, with the pain, there would be joy and love that defies comprehension. And underneath it all would be other aspects of adoption—rejection, loss, grief—requiring we modify our parenting to address and support these issues and advocate that family, friends and our community do the same.
The make-up of our family, how we came together, demands I examine and consider as many perspectives, shades of gray, as possible. Adoption is complicated. Adoption encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly. Adoption brings profound joy, but it is seeded in loss. My children lost so much when they were adopted—birth parents, birth families, and birth cultures. That knowledge is ever present. Rarely a day goes by that I do not think of the women who carried and gave birth to my children and think of what they lost too. I don’t feel so naïve any more…
~ Photo by Josi