**This post first ran on Grown in My Heart on April 20, 2011.
Adoption was an intentional part of our plan. As was being a multiracial family. Becoming the family we are just took us a little longer; adoption = a lot of time + more patience…
We are often asked if we would adopt again. The answer is, “In a heartbeat!” And while we often say, “Never say never,” we feel our family is complete.
Adoption is joy and pain. Each time it was unfathomable joy to bring our children into our family. For us the awe was similar to our oldest’s son’s birth, actually more so, because of the intention.
We are indeed honored to be the parents of our children. Each of our younger three have experienced profound loss—of their birth mothers/parents, birth families, birth cultures, and therefore for their birth identities. We cannot replace these losses or substitute for them. We acknowledge them and move forward, addressing and working though adoption issues together.
My kids are not lucky. They were adopted. Circumstances were such that they could not remain with their birth families. Those stories are theirs and as it is I already feel as though I have shared too much.
My husband and I consider ourselves the fortunate ones. Our kids are simply amazing (that’s motherspeak for “I adore my kids!”). I might add that they also think we’re a “pretty cool family” (their words).
My kids live better lives than if they had remained in their birth countries. Ummm…, possibly…and no. They have different lives.
How is “better” defined? Our perceptions are strongly influenced by how we live in the U.S., by our general dominance and arrogance. Affluence is often perceived as equaling better. I don’t subscribe to that. Money can make life easier, comfortable, but it can also wreak negative consequences. Having more doesn’t equate to better or happy.
Have you spent time in the surreal poverty-stricken areas of Guatemalain the still of the early morning as the steam rises from the lush verdant jungle floor? Have you felt how the atmosphere vibrates and the light refracts differently, almost reverently in foothills of the southern footholds of China? Have you had or witnessed exchanges between people with which you share nothing but humanity?
No? It brings you to your knees. Beauty and richness abound everywhere, regardless of money. Appreciation does not.
We ARE a permanent family. We don’t celebrate adoption, “Gotcha Day,” “Forever Family Day,” “Welcome Home Day,” or whatever… To do so ignores that adoption happens because of travesty—be it education, poverty, country policies, etc. We commit to being and working on being a family—every day.
My kids laugh, fight, play, bicker, have each other’s backs, and act like the siblings they have become. They have bonafide relationships, referring to each other as sister and brother and us, mom and dad. They seek to spend time with each other and talk about and compare their pasts, but they also talk about their futures.
My kids retain their given names as well those we gave them, in a sense weaving their birth and adopted identities together. They are well-aware and proud of the significance of each name.
Adoption is not for the meek. Inherent issues in adoption exist, the special needs. How they surface and are addressed varies considerably within the person who has been adopted and within the family. Burying adoption issues only does harm to the child who has been adopted.
Adoption is a life-long journey, for each and every one of us. Inherent issues in adoption directly affect my kids who have been adopted and indirectly affect us as parents and as a family. We support our kids and validate what they feel. How they feel changes as they move through their developmental milestones. We advocate for sensitivity and support from others.