(Lots of online discussion on adopting due to the recent SC nominee so it seems timely to re-up this post and hopefully make some think)
Readers know I don’t use the term ‘adopter’ lightly, and it applies only to a few out there. I read a very disturbing post today by someone with infertility, who is pro-life and also wants to adopt. I was ready to rebut her post, it felt good writing thoughts down, but it wouldn’t have done any good. Instead, I decided to write this post, perhaps she’ll read it, or someone just like her. Perhaps it will trigger reflection, perhaps not, but I’ve tried in the kindest way I know…
She’s not ready to adopt…
It takes a lot of empathy, being able, and willing, to see all the different sides in adoption. To see the trauma the other sides go through, so you get what you want most, a baby. Some people never get there, and that’s okay, provided they don’t adopt.
To me, to be ready to be adoptive parents, it takes…
A Strong Moral Compass to know that how you adopt, the choices you make will matter to the child, and should matter to you most of all because you will be a parent, and your actions will teach your child the difference between right and wrong. That how you treat their mother and father by birth, matters. How ethical (or lack there of) the adoption is/was, matters. That any ethics you are willing to compromise means you don’t honor the process, the people in it, and you don’t honor the child.
Empathy for the parents who are giving you their child, and wouldn’t, if there was another way. The type of empathy where you can try to understand what they are going through, yet know, you’ve only scratched the surface of their pain. That the baby’s parents will grieve the loss as long as they live. That grief may get less raw, but it never goes away, ever.
Willingness to understand that the baby you want to adopt, already knows their mom before they come into the world. They may already know their dad, too. To be adopted as a newborn means they lost everything they knew when they came into this big scary world, stop, and think what that would be like, everything you know is gone. Adoption starts on a foundation of loss, it should only happen after all other options have been offered by the professional they’ve turned to, thoroughly researched and delved into, and it’s still not enough to allow the family to stay together. The professional you chose matters, it’s not how fast, or easy, it’s how it is done. Ethics matter.
Humility to recognize that you don’t understand what it’s like to be adopted, or what it’s like to be a mother or father who lost their child to adoption. That you need to educate yourself, listen to the experts of the lived experiences, gain an understanding, and yet, know it’s just a taste of what it’s like.
Integrity to honor your promises, especially when the going gets rough. Your word is your bond, without it, what does it say about who you really are, and you need to be parent material to successfully raise your child.
Strength to put your own ego, and needs, aside. To recognize that the parents of your baby matter. Both parents, not just the mother, the father too. That advocating that the expectant mother relocate to a ‘adoption friendly’ state to allow her to remain silent, or lie, when asked about the father, to deliberately cut the father out because he wants to parent his child, is wrong.
Recognition that being adopted is often hard. That layers are added to each developmental stage growing up and continue throughout our entire lives. Being adopted is for life, it isn’t just an event, regardless of what positive adoption language wants you to believe. Whether we are at the developmental stage where we realize that to be chosen, also means that we weren’t kept, stop, let that soak in, imagine what it would feel like to realize that. When we start to define our identity as teens, and we have all those extra heavy adoption layers piled on complicating our search for our own identity. When we give birth and realize our baby is the very first person we’ve met we are biologically related to, can you imagine how awe-inspiring it is to not just be an ‘only’ anymore. All those layers, and more, throughout our life, come from being adopted. We are who we are in part because we are adopted, for better or worse, we will always be adopted, and the role of being a parent to an adoptee is an important one. You need to be willing to be there, not just for the good times, but for the hard times, especially for the hard times, without your needs bleeding through as you walk along side you child going through the challenges that come with being adopted.