Sometimes I believe ignorance can manifest itself into a form of hope that can drive humans to do hard things. It’s when the road gets hard and our hope is broken that our ignorance has the opportunity to become humble wisdom, and we are left with 2 choices: Continue down the path we’ve chosen or follow the pain to swallow us up and ultimately quit.
Adoption is more often than not, the harder path to chose. It can be uncomfortable, painful, and etch away at every part of our being. And yet, so many people still chose to adopt. There is this passion, something that burns deep inside, screaming at our souls to, “do it!”. Perhaps we all believe that our story will be different…
We read the books, we hear the stories, we attend all the seminars, we “understand” trauma and yet something inside us still says, “I can handle this, I can do it.”.
And then we enter adoption and more often than not, it is the complete opposite of what we expected.
The most important thing we want you to hear is this: Adoption is not about you.
Adoption is not about meeting a need in your heart or fulfilling you, and in all reality, starting a family never should be. While adopting and having children CAN bring you an immense amount of joy and love, adoption just cannot be about you.
You see, for a child to need adoption they will have experienced some level of trauma. Trauma is a very real and scientific occurrence that can greatly affect the brain and it’s development. Trauma can prevent the upper and lower brain from connecting, thus keeping the logical part and emotional part of your child’s brain separated. Without knowledge, unending commitment and a hell of a lot of grit, a child who’s brain is not functioning correctly can drive your family apart.
So, why are we bringing this up?
Because the last thing on earth an adopted child needs is for their new family to quit on them. If you are going to adopt we cannot stress enough how important it is to fully ask yourself the following questions (and many more):
-What if I don’t like the child I’m matched with?
-What if they hurt me?
-What if they hurt someone I love?
-What if they are sexually abusive?
-What if they need extensive therapy?
-What if I need extensive therapy?
-What if my friends and family leave us?
-What if my faith is shaken?
-What if they don’t bond to me and resent me?
-What if they come between me and my spouse?
-What if, what if, what if…
The point is, all of the above scenarios are real and have happened to people we know and love, and many have happened to our own family.
Why are we still here? If adoption can be so hard, why are we still in it? The answer is simple and deeply complex. We are still here because we made a commitment and are committed to the fact that our adoption is not about us. Our adoption is about trying (and often failing) to meet our kid’s needs where they are. Our adoption is about trying (and often failing) to love our children through the pain so that they might become healthy and whole individuals with a future. We keep going so that they might be able to have healthy relationships one day. Perhaps get married and have children if they so desire and follow their passions and be kind to the world.
You see, if I’m going to be completely honest, I went into adoption thinking 90% about me. I wanted to be a mom, and while that isn’t a bad desire, I’ve learned I cannot place my need for unconditional love on any human, especially a child, and especially a child who knows greater trauma than I could ever fathom. I wanted to be needed, I wanted the cuddles, I wanted to hear, “mommy!!!”, I wanted to be woken up in the middle of the night because of a bad dream so I could console them and put them back to sleep. I wanted to hear giggles and watch Disney movies and dress them up for Halloween and take road trips…I wanted children so I could fill a need in my heart.
So when their very real past and broken brains did not, and do not, and cannot meet my dreams of what motherhood would be, I wanted out. I wailed. I begged for an out.
But we made a commitment. Our yes is our yes and we were in it forever.
We want everyone out there to soberly follow their desire to adopt if, and only if, you are prepared to withstand every single thing that could be thrown at you. Let that hope we were talking about at the beginning drive you, but also let that same hope be the thing that helps you keep fighting when shit hits the fan. Believe there can be healing. Get training and the education you need to help your children fully develop. Find friends who will support you and not allow you to give up. Don’t be afraid of therapy. Because if there is something that you can think of now, while not having a traumatized child in your home that would cause you to say, ‘no, that’s too much, I would leave them,’, then we beg you to reconsider adoption.
Adoption is not the only way to impact the global orphan crisis. In fact there are SO many ways you can help reduce the number of orphans in the world. The Archibald Project has done a wonderful job at highlighting ways to care for vulnerable children and their families and I highly recommend that you look through their website to learn more about holistic orphan care. Because adoption is real. Adoption is hard. But the pain that comes with adoption can be worth it because children are worth it, after all children are our future.
If you are considering adoption, or are walking through an adoption, then please read this page, and this page to better prepare yourself on your journey. And please read TAP’s 411 on Ethical Orphan Care to help gain a deeper understanding of the global orphan crisis.