When I started working in the adoption world a little over nine years ago, I was an absolute proponent of adoption. I doubt there would have been anything anyone could have said or done to convince me that adoption was anything but wonderful. Working in adoption and child welfare has brought a lot of my adoption issues to the surface, and has forced me to address many of the issues I had kept buried for most of my life. It can be difficult to hear the negative sentiments towards adoption, especially considering the fact that I would not be where I am today had my parents not chosen to form their family through adoption. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work in this field and discover the various perspectives on adoption and learn about the joys and heartaches through the eyes of parents and young people who have experienced foster care, kinship care, and adoption. It has also helped validate and normalize many of the feelings and experiences I have had throughout my adoption journey.
I believe in adoption. I believe that every child, teen, and adult deserves a permanent and loving family. However, I am also well aware that adoption is not easy, nor is it perfect. Mistakes are made, and children and families sometimes pay the ultimate price for those mistakes. I hear the stories -- the good and the bad -- and I see a system that works for some and has failed miserably for others. I see young people who have aged out of foster care -- having lived their entire young lives in and out of multiple placements and group homes -- and I am well aware of the statistics on the challenges they will most likely face.
As much as I believe in adoption, I realize that adoption is not for everyone. One must be extremely dedicated, open-minded, always open to learning, and incredibly thick-skinned to be an adoptive parent. Adoption is not easy. It is not a lifetime spent on cloud nine, nor is it always a dream fulfilled for people wanting to add to their families. Regardless of whether they were adopted domestically, internationally, or from foster care -- all adoptees have experienced loss and many struggle from issues stemming from their life experiences. No matter how old they were when adopted, it is unrealistic to believe that it is possible for a child to experience the loss of a birth parent and come out on the other side completely unscathed.
The adoption journey does not end when your adopted child is finally in your arms. The journey is one that never ends. It is a journey filled with joy and heartache. It is the realization of one dream and the loss of another. It will sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride that never ends. It is also a journey in which you may need to learn when to love and when to let go.
I have heard some parents say that they are not sure whether or not they would adopt if they could go back and do it all over again. However, a majority of adoptive parents have wholeheartedly said that despite the tears, the sleepless nights, the pain, the heartache, and the sacrifices they have had to make throughout their adoption journeys -- they still believe that it was absolutely worth it. If there is one thing motherhood has taught me, it is the fact that part of being a parent is experiencing heartache and knowing that you would endure it a million times over because your child is worth it. That is how I feel about adoption. The system is not perfect, parents are not perfect, and children are not perfect, but it does not mean that we should stop finding families for children and teens and it certainly does not mean that we should stop believing in the good things adoption has to offer.
When my parents chose to form their family through adoption, they changed the course of my life for the better. It has certainly been a road with many highs and lows, but along the way, I had someone who was there at my basketball games and school plays. I had someone there to support me at my middle school, high school, and college graduations. I had someone to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and my sons will forever be surrounded by a large family who will always love and support them. None of this would have been possible without adoption. Though adoption is not perfect and is not always a fairytale, I can unequivocally say that adoption is worth it.