This blog is part of the Adoption Love link up. The topic:
How, if at all, has adoption changed your view of humanity (for good or bad)?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WELL. Big sigh...
Adoption has stretched me, to say the least. It's made me re-evaluate both myself and others and what our intentions are when it comes to making decisions for the children in our care, who are relying on us to make good decisions for them. I've definitely witnessed good and bad by choosing to walk this path.
My wide-eyed naivety when we first started looking into adoption had me thinking that people were generally good, kept their word, and that things would go smoothly because we were making the choice that felt SO RIGHT. But along the way, as we talked about our adoption plans and the whole process of bringing Kal home and then the failed adoptions leading up to this point, I realized it wasn't as smooth sailing as I thought it would be. And not everyone puts the child first.
First, the bad:
- Adoption is extraordinarily expensive in most cases. Why? Because of greed. Because it has been turned into a huge business. The greed of agencies, lawyers, and expectant mothers who think they ought to be reimbursed thousands of dollars for the exchange of parental rights of a child. It's baby selling and there's no way to not say that. It is. It's morally corrupt and I hate it. And just because of the principle of the thing, I refuse to pay for a domestic adoption when it feels like everyone just wants to dip into the adoptive parents' pockets. It's not fair, it's not right, and it makes adoption look bad. Kal's adoption, including two trips to Georgia, cost just under $9,000. For everything. Matching us with an expectant mom, counseling for both sides, legitimate birth parent expenses, legal fees, travel, finalization in court. That's it. (That's cheaper than having a baby.) That was best case scenario. I don't expect for that to happen again, but I'm hoping that we can somehow find another situation that feels right and doesn't break the bank because of the greed of people who just want to get what they can out of hopeful adoptive parents who are vulnerable and just want to add to their family.
- Some very vulnerable women are being coerced to place their child for adoption. It's not always a decision made out of love. Sometimes it's a choice unnecessarily being made because she is being manipulated by people. People like her parents, the baby's father, adoption professionals, hopeful adoptive families. Whoever is convincing her to make a choice she wouldn't have made on her own. That's wrong. Adoption can solve problems, but it can also create more - like lifelong grief over a decision she didn't want to make and didn't need to. It's already hard enough to place a child when it's the 100% right decision for mom to make and she knows it. Especially when she's young and adults are telling her that she can't be a mother. That's wrong. We need to support women in being able to make choices for themselves. And provide them with resources to make those choices confidently. In a lot of cases, that's not happening. On the flip side, some women are being coerced to parent their children. Family members threaten to disown them if they "give that baby away." It's just... sigh... craziness.
- Adoption scammers. People who have no intention of actually placing a baby prey on hopeful adoptive couples for money, gifts, time, and emotional connection. It's sick. I had no idea there were people out there like that, but there are. And they'll hop from agency to agency and get whatever they can out of them and then say they "changed their mind" in the end. Or, they were never really pregnant. Just selfish, trying to get what they can out of other people.
- Dishonesty. This encompasses a lot of things. But I can't believe how dishonest people can be. Like, an adoption professional making promises to an expectant mother about how she can choose how open she wants the adoption to be, when in reality she can't. After parental rights are relinquished, adoptive parents can do whatever they want. She will not have any legal parental rights at all. Or adoptive parents promising an open adoption or saying whatever the expectant mom wants to hear just so she won't change her mind, no matter what their intentions are afterwords. Adoptive parents, keep your promises! Or expectant parents saying they are 100% sure about an adoption decision when they're not. Don't lie. Just say you're not 100% sure and work through your issues with a counselor. Or women trying to hide a pregnancy from a father - even flying to another state to have the baby and place the baby without contacting him at all. Fathers have every right to parent their child if they choose to and are capable of doing so. Just because you don't like the guy anymore, doesn't mean you can make his choice for him and omit telling him he has a child.
- Then there are fathers who are not stepping up and taking responsibility for the children they helped create - leaving women struggling to make these decisions alone. It's not fair. And so many women don't know their own worth and are accepting abuse in place of a real relationship.
- People being insensitive ("How much did he cost?" "Was his real mom a drug addict?"), generalizing a whole group of people ("You know how these birthfathers are all just deadbeat dads and are contesting the adoption to be difficult." "She says she's changing her mind, but give her a few days and when she realizes she can't go out with her friends with a new baby, she'll change her mind back."), things like that... makes me cringe. There's a lot of emotion and social problems rolled into adoption stories and it makes for a perfect storm of people's insecurities, misconceptions, and prejudices to come to the forefront. It's been eye-opening.
- We're barely into the waters of trying to get foster care licensed and the stories only get worse when you go from domestic infant adoption to fostering. The negative side to foster care adoption... well, let's just say it's an explosion of negative. I'll have to write more about that when we have more experience, but man - some people's lives are a hot mess... the abuse and neglect of children in America is horrifying. The cycle of abuse that perpetuates generation after generation. It's not the children's fault they're in foster care, but they get judged and labeled and scarred for things their parents did or didn't do. It's all just so, so sad.
- We researched international adoption for awhile. Even decided on a country (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Then that country ended up suspending all adoptions for who knows how long. And we're not financially ready for that really. So that idea got tossed to the side for now. But researching it was heartbreaking. To really open your heart to children half a world away... people just don't do it. I think in America in general, people just don't want to hear about orphans. Some people just want to pretend like everything's hunky dory and that the orphan crisis has nothing to do with them. It has to do with all of us! We do not come together as a human race enough over things that really matter and it's disheartening that so many people just don't care and will spend their whole life not caring about anyone outside their immediate circle.
This sounds like a rant. Ha ha. But it's not all bad. I'm not bitter. There's plenty of good:
- Everyone important to us was supportive of our adoption plans. No one had one negative thing to say to us. We've had all the support we needed. Friends and family gathered around us to make sure we had everything we needed. I loved my baby shower. Kal was welcomed and was loved by so many people the moment he showed up. It was amazing. My mom said she wondered how it would be for us to adopt, simply because no one in our family has adopted before. But when she saw Kal for the first time, she honestly saw a glow around him and her heart just melted and she said she recognized him... like he was a choice spirit sent to our family for a great purpose. We were all meant to be connected in this life. I love that he fit right into our extended family and he'll never have to question his place with us. He is loved beyond measure. That's one reason I am SO ready to move back to Georgia to be closer to the grandparents. But until then, visits and packages in the mail will have to do. :)
- Kal's birth family. Meeting K has changed my life. Not just because she gave us Kal, although that is HUGE. Just getting to know her and her family over the years has redefined what I've thought of as family before. It was exactly what I hoped for when we were first researching open adoption. And although my heart breaks for the circumstances that led to Kal's adoption, I am so grateful that our paths crossed the way they did and we are able to share the love for the same little boy in such a unique way. It's amazing how God can bring people together and have us lean on each other in such pivotal moments in our lives. It changes you. Her strength and love is admirable. Not just anyone can have a child and part ways with him and bear that grief with dignity and gratitude. She is amazing.
- I have a much bigger family now that we've adopted Kal, because with him came a whole family tree. I feel like I've found a kindred spirit in Kal's birthmom's aunt. She is amazing and I hope she's reading this and she knows how much she means to our family. Once we move closer, getting to know more of Kal's birth family is gonna be a priority.
- Opening my heart to adoption meant redefining family completely. Biology honestly means hardly anything to me. The only reason I would love to get pregnant is that I want that experience (just once) if I can get it and it would allow me to have a little bit of control! Adoption means you have no control over anything as you wait for someone to choose you. That's terrifying and painfully slow. Having a child with no biological connection to me doesn't make me bat an eye. It's actually exciting. Like, a genetic jack-in-the-box. I'm fascinated with genetics and am actually going to get one of those 23andMe DNA tests done for Christmas this year. Ha ha. Yep, that's what I wanted for Christmas. I'm gonna make Zay and Kal do it too, cuz that would be so friggin awesome to see where we "come from," genetically speaking. When I think of family, I could imagine our family growing in a lot of different ways and I think any child from any race would fit right in. From any country, really. Researching international adoption has made us realize love has no biological or racial or nationality boundaries. Family is about love and acceptance. I like this quote:
"Adoption has the dimension of connection - not only to your own tribe, but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties and family. It is a larger embrace. By adopting, we stretch past our immediate circles and, by reaching out, find an unexpected sense of belonging with others." -- Isabella Rossellini
- Becoming a mother has been amazing... soul-altering, if that's a word. There's no denying what that has done to me and for me. I can't imagine my life without my son. I am a fierce mama bear now... something I didn't know was in me until the first time I saw Kal's face. My view of humanity has changed simply because being a mother changes the way you look at everything. My compassion deepened. My sense of responsibility changed. My purpose in life shifted. I feel connected to other moms when I thought I'd never be able to relate to them. There's my before-kid(s)-life and my after-kid(s)-life, and there's no comparing the two. I was lonely without Kal, longing for something you can't get just from a spouse. I want a big family and I love seeing all the big Mormon families around here now. I'm not jealous anymore. Just excited and happy for everyone. :)
- And in general, for every negative thing I've witnessed... I've also seen the opposite. Genuine people. Honest people. Supportive people. People who keep their word. Birth fathers who support the birth mom 100% in her decision-making. Compassionate people. People who have a love that runs deep and far-reaching. People who care about the wrongs in the world and actually do something about it. Amazing birth moms. Amazing moms who chose to parent and are rocking it. Amazing adoptive families. Love, redemption, family, goodness. God's hand in all of the above.