Hi friends, family, and future baby,
In order to ensure I got some momentum going with this blog, I used my rainy Spring Break to write a few entries in advance. I’m writing this from our Farm Stay in Catawissa on March 18th. It has been a year and a half since we applied to our agency, but only 5 months as an official waiting family.
In my last post about why we chose to grow our family through adoption, I wrote:
In a world where people are searching for love and safety, it never made sense to put our efforts towards medical intervention when instead we could direct our efforts towards giving a home to a child in need.Choosing to Adopt Post Published 3/24/21
In a footnote I added:
This statement is reflective of our thoughts at the time. Since then, we have learned this phrasing is problematic, which I will explain in our next post.Choosing to Adopt Post Published 3/24/21
Here’s the thing – in the past there have been two dominant stories about adoption: the adoptive parents are “saviors” or the adopted child is a “gift.” Both of these stories are wrong.
The Savior Story paints adoptive families as saints and sets-up a contrast that the birth families are bad or evil. The adoptive child is “saved” which implies that they would not have been able to carve out a happy, successful life for themselves if it weren’t for the adoptive family. Nothing is ever that simple. Adopted children are not birds with broken wings that we swoop in to save before the neighborhood cat eats it. We do not know what their story would be if life had taken a different turn, but it is their life and their story, one which they have the agency to craft. Birth families that make an adoption plan do so because they want the best for this little human in their care. It is immense an act of love and courage. It is filled with a spirit of selflessness.
The Gift story erases the child’s family of origin. It centers the adoption on the adoptive family and the child. In this story, the child is a commodity. A gift implies that the child is a wish fulfillment, placing a presumption on the child that their worth is connected to the joy they bring which limits their capacity to have their own struggles and mis-steps. A “Gotcha Day” celebrates the joy of the parents receiving their child and erases the trauma the child experienced by being torn from the only family they knew.
As potential adoptive parents, when we centered our story on the idea of “giving a home to a child in need”, we helped promote the first story. Of course that wasn’t our meaning or intention when we began this journey. However, now we know a little better, so it is our job to do better.
Our first story wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t the whole truth. We are choosing to grow our family through adoption, because we want the joy of raising a child. I want to snuggle a baby, watch it learn how language works, show it the joy of chasing waves on the beach. All of those things will increase our happiness. There is selfishness in this act. It doesn’t erase a desire to help, but “helping” isn’t the full story.
I selfishly want to see my husband giving piggyback rides to our child and read under blanket forts on a rainy night. No one deserves the responsibility of another human soul. This isn’t a given. If we have the opportunity to grow our family through adoption it will come trauma, pain and loss for others. That needs to be acknowledged.