“Just Adopt” … or it’s 4 word cousin … “you can always adopt” … words that sound so simple, yet convey a vast chasm of ignorance about the adoption process.
As it is “National Adoption Month” (and who comes up with these things anyway ... do we have a National Month for non adoptees?) and I have a personal connection with adoption, I would like to share a few of my thoughts.
Recently I have seen two posts on Social Media that demonstrate society's lack of understanding about adoption.
I realize that someone is trying to make a point, but do you realize how devastating a post like that is to many adopted children who struggle with a sense of rejection and identity (despite the love of their incredible families)? This message could be interpreted as adopted children are unwanted in the womb AND by society. Similar sentiments were expressed in a reaction to a recent post on social media (which in context had nothing to do with adoption).
Technically abandoned?! Do you know how much strength, courage, thought, love, care and commitment are part of the adoption story? Have you considered the courage it takes a woman to carry a baby to term knowing that she will not be keeping it? Can you imagine the difficulty and grief of a mother (or birth father) relinquishing their child to someone else to raise? Have you considered the sense of longing and joy of the adoptive family … who more often than not have been on a very difficult journey before travelling down their adoption path? Adoptees are in no sense of the word “abandoned”. They are loved and wanted.
You can’t have children? Just adopt.
How often are these words spoken to grieving parents - or those who long for children that they cannot conceive or carry. As if adoption is the cure for infertility. It sounds so simple:
Unwanted baby + parents who can’t have children = match made in heaven
… or is it? Adoption and infertility are different journeys - even though their paths may cross.
Have you considered the low number of children available for adoption in western countries? Have you considered the would be parents who held their new adopted children in their arms, opening their heart to love, only to have it shattered into a million pieces when a birth mother (for whatever reason - no judgment here) changes her mind within the 30 day confirmation period and cannot go through with the adoption?
All those children in foreign orphanages - just adopt! (be a saviour!).
Do you realise the difficulty of inter-country adoption - for all involved? Do you know that there must be intercountry agreements between governments for intercountry adoption. Depending what country you are from, you may not have many options at all. When you had your children, did someone carry out invasive home studies, character checks and references to decide if you were young enough, financially able and fit to be a parent? Did you have to pay for the cost of those home studies? Did you have to have your life turned inside out and displayed to complete strangers? And then … when the wait dragged on and on … have to pay to have it done all over again? Have you considered why children are up for adoption in the first place? What the circumstances are?
How will you deal with your child’s aching need to know their roots and yet not feel like they have any roots? Resolving identity is one of Erikson’s psycho-social stages of development. It’s even more complex for adoptees ... and more so again, for those who are interculturally adopted. How will you deal with their identity issues?
Just adopt. Simple words that deny the massive trauma and loss for the birth family, the trauma of separation for the child and the joy and guilt entwined for the adoptive parent(s) who know that their joy is often someone else’s pain.
There is no just about it.
There is strength, courage, selflessness, joy, a profound connection and the miracle of children. From there … like any child, the road can wind all sorts of ways. Nothing in life is perfect - we make the best road we can. I am so thankful for the gift of adoption in my life and that of my family. I am grateful for growing up loved and cherished. But just adopt? There was no “just” involved in that journey and that is true for all adoption.