Disclaimers -- This may be a tough read for some parents through adoption. You may think I am not understanding, but I do and my words to follow come with a huge amount of love. xo
I am but one person with my own experience. Adoptees are human beings so of course our feelings and experiences vary from black to white to every shade of gray. I cannot and do not speak for everyone but will always stand up for everyone to have a chance to speak.
I was actually taking a break from the exhausting four lines I had written for another Huffington Post blog when I saw someone post something to Facebook about complaining. The author pronounced that complaining had become her default setting. I immediately connected as this is something I have been thinking about a lot in terms of adoption. I am adopted. I have not a complaint about my adoption. NOTHING. NOT. ONE. BAD. THING has happened to me as a result of adoption or having been adopted. NONE. I certainly feel for my own birthmother's plight as she left me with friends, not to return. What a moment for her to have to live with. I suppose I could look at it as abandonment, I could choose to feel rejected or disconnected but I never have. It was my opportunity at a different life. I could complain that I never know what that life was like or that I was unwanted but I choose not to. I choose to see it as a defining moment on my journey that took me to loving arms and a lifelong connection to the unconditional acceptance and embrace of family. This is a choice all adoptees have the right to make for themselves; how they think and feel about their own personal journey.
I regularly hear voices in the adoption community complaining -- people tired of being asked questions, people having issues with birth families, people not getting the family support they feel their siblings received when they gave birth. While I am a grown woman and have known I was adopted for as long as I can remember- the complaints are new to me. I NEVER (a word I try not to use as it is such an absolute) but yes, I NEVER, not once, not ever in my entire life heard my mom make one complaint related to adoption. She did not complain about questions or terminology; she did not make judgments about my birth mother or the way her siblings who had biological children were treated as compared to her. NOT ONCE. She was filled with love and grace and loved me for me. We did not LIVE adoption. I was not an "adopted child" everyday, nor was she an "adoptive mother." I was the oldest child, I was the bossiest child, I was the child with dimples. I was not living or defined as the "adopted child." Nor did my mother live in a world where she chose to be defined either. She was the mommy -- the one that did the laundry, kissed the boo-boos and helped with homework. If she were ever bothered by any part of adoption, I never knew it. She had a gentle grace about her. When we would chat about my birth mother my mother spoke with empathy and heartfelt gratitude.
I am sure that social media has lent more to complaints than expressions of gratitude, for anything, not just adoption. I cringe as I see some of the whining and complaining on Facebook posts and in groups. How would I have felt if I had known my own mother had done this? How would I have felt if she were complaining to friends and strangers about me, my history or the woman who gave birth to me? I think my perception of myself and my adoption would be very different has we lived IN IT every day. I would not have the healthy feelings about my story and where I came from if my mother had not.
I know how easy it is. Something goes wrong in your day, what do people do? Post it to Facebook or maybe complain to a friend at the checkout line of Target. Half the blogs we read have to do with the angst of daily life as a mom. But before YOU become a part of this epidemic of complaints, before you make choices that WILL affect how your own child feels, remember that words are powerful. I am a mommy through adoption. I know better than most the bumps and issues with adoption. I am not saying to be Pollyanna or stick your head in the sand. I know that most scenarios are fraught with pain or drama as a precursor. Remember, adoption is often predicated by pain, but it IS NOT pain itself. What I know and choose to surround myself and my children with is the LOVE. Something so many go through life without. There are so many things you can complain about if you need to vent; the laundry, the thin layer of toddler slime that lives in your house, the puppy and his accidents (pretty sure I complain about the mess at my house) -- why complain about something related to how your child came to you? Before you make the choice to complain about the adoption of your child or someone asking you about it -- think again. Your child is watching you and will follow your lead. Not only will you define your child, but also yourself in his or her eyes. What do you want your words and actions to say to your child?
I am not picking on you. I know how big your heart is and that it is bursting at the seams with love. I LOVE parents through adoption for a million reasons. I know the struggles many of you have had and continue to have related to trauma, relationships with birth families, attachment and other issues. I know. I am not saying not to reach out to appropriate sources for support. We ALL need that. I only suggest that words are chosen wisely, responses are thought out peacefully and complaints not be about how your child came to you or where your child came from or even having to respond to questions about it. I know you can and you want to do the right thing for your child. Do not live in the adoption- that is just one part of your story.
I am going to take the no-complaint challenge -- I am even going to TRY and stop complaining about the three ring circus my house is on school mornings. How about you? Let's start with adoption. LIVE THE LOVE. BE THE GRACE. I know you are full of both!