Monday, January 18, 2010

Adoption: "It's About Love"

Photo: www.haitiorphansproject.org

A teacher I had in high school recently got back in touch with me. I told her about wanting to adopt a child and she said something I found interesting:
"I just think it's a totally awesome thing to do...there are so many little ones who need love. I think about how much I love [my child] sometimes and then think that there are little ones that don't get all the love that he gets and it's just heartbreaking... it takes someone truly brave to offer that to someone's child!"
She was complimenting me and I really appreciated it. It always feels good to hear that you're doing something good. But in all honesty, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I certainly didn't start filling out adoption paperwork recently because I wanted to save a child from a bad situation or from being unloved. I did it because I want to be a mother. Is that selfish? It feels selfish in a way.

I thought about it some more... and the thing is, I'd like to think that many birth mothers who make the choice to put their baby up for adoption do it out of love. So in a way, adopted babies have more love thrown their way in their short lifetime than some other children. A birth mother who knows she can't give that child what he/she needs and sacrifices her own wants to give that child what she couldn't... I don't see an unloved child in that situation. I don't feel like the path we are taking to adopt a newborn is one where the newborn is lacking love - there is just a lot more to parenting than love. That's why adoptions happen.

I also don't look at it as "loving someone else's child." Someone else may have given birth to them, but once they are my child ... they are always and forever my child. I wouldn't call myself brave for that. Biology isn't the only thing that makes you love someone. I'm not biologically related to my husband, but I love him more than anyone I'm genetically connected to. It doesn't take bravery on my part to love - it's just who I am. The idea that I couldn't love a child that I didn't give birth to... or I couldn't see them as my own... just doesn't compute with me at all.When most people think about adoption, they imagine orphans and starving kids from other countries (the newly orphaned children in Haiti come to mind). I'll be the first one to say that I don't think I am emotionally ready to handle anything other than the domestic adoption of an infant (up to 1 year old). Not now. Not at first. I realize that there are many older children who move from foster home to foster home and have a much more difficult time getting placed with a family - these are the kids who are lacking the love that every child needs. I'm sure these are the kids my teacher was referring to.

When most people think about adoption, they imagine orphans and starving kids from other countries (the newly orphaned children in Haiti come to mind). I'll be the first one to say that I don't think I am emotionally ready to handle anything other than the domestic adoption of a newborn. Not now. Not at first. I realize that there are many older children who move from foster home to foster home and have a much more difficult time getting adopted, and there are millions of children filling orphanages across the world - these are the kids who are lacking the love and stability that every child needs as a part of a family. I'm sure these are the kids my teacher was referring to.

So, in my situation - and from what I expect from the adoption process we're going through - I'm hoping that we won't be faced with unloved babies. Even though it may not be true in some cases, I still want to hold on to the notion that birth mothers place children up for adoption after weighing their options and acting out of love - love for a child that they carried and gave birth to, but they just knew they couldn't offer that baby the life they would want for them.

I'm already thankful to the birth mother who I have yet to meet who will give the gift of life to me and my family. I respect her... She's more of a Saint for giving me the chance to be a mother than I'll ever be for wanting to adopt. I'm sure of it. I can only hope to be the kind of parent that would make her proud.





4 comments:

  1. Last week I met an amazing family in the NICU. They tried for a baby for nine years and are now adopting their biological neice. She was born three weeks early and was very underdeveloped. They knew before she was born that her legs wouldn't work, but they didn't know that she'd be blind, deaf, and need to be on a ventilator and have a feeding tube for the rest of her life, if she lives. The adoption is final today (as long as the birth mom shows up to sign the papers) and they're surprised the baby is still alive. I think they are absolutely amazing to love someone so much when they really had no obligation to do so. They will get stuck with the bills and a lot of heartache and she will probably die very soon, but they are parents, which is what they wanted, and this little girl will be remembered and loved more than most. I think these parents are heroes.

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  2. @Anna - I forgot to mention special needs children. Wow, what a sad (but amazing) story! I don't necessarily understand how people could open their hearts and take on such a responsibility like that, but I'm sure glad there are better people than me out there in the world. They're the ones who are truly *brave*.

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  3. Alice Anne! I just found your blog by following the link you posted on facebook. Of course I'm going back and reading all your old posts, and I came to this one.

    All the time, when people find out that my parents adopted four kids, they say something like, "your parents are so brave," or "they are such good people." It doesn't feel like that to our family. My mom couldn't have more kids, and she and my dad wanted more. They were rich and could afford more, and there are orphans all over the world that need a good home. It had nothing to do with trying to be brave or good. And the adopted kids don't feel like "my adopted siblings," they're just my siblings. My parents don't think of them as someone else's child, they're their children.

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  4. @Heather - Yay! You found my blog! I'm still surprised anybody even reads it. Ha ha.

    Thanks for that comment. I think your parents did what they needed to do to make their family complete. I think most people would do whatever they could in those situations... and it doesn't necessarily make them better people than anybody else (although I think your mom is awesome). ... But mostly I say that because I don't want people to think that I think I'm a better person than anyone else because of the choices I'm making now. They're mostly self-centered choices to me, not anything to be amazed about. :)

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