Thursday, October 27, 2016

Adoption: The Truth About Our Hurt

I have a unique perspective. As an adoptee who has adopted, I get both sides. The only leg of the adoption triangle I'm missing is the birth momma.

Adoption is this...amazing experience I have had the pleasure of knowing so intimately. It's who I am. It's my past and present and future. God gave me this amazing family who nurtured me and led me up in Christ. I was loved. I am loved. My family is such a gift. And now I get to love and nurture three souls that I have been hand-picked to parent through foster/adoption.

To say that this road is all roses and butterflies would be...untrue. And to be honest, no parenting road is smooth sailing. If someone claims that it is, perhaps they haven't hit certain stages yet. Or maybe they're lying. 😜

The truth is, parenting kids from hard places is both incredibly challenging and terribly sad. It's hard. the essence of true transparency, I thought I'd write a little about the hurt and pain we adoptees go through. Please read this with no judgement and no "psychological answers," because the truth's there. The older I get, the more I feel like one day (or year) it will go away, but it doesn't.

And remember: this doesn't mean we don't love the life we've been given and blessed with. I'm just hoping to let light in to your adoptee's mind...even if they can't put words to it.

There are days when we're sad and we don't know why. Only to realize later that it's because we didn't sleep last night as we thought/dreamt/imagined our birth family and how life maybe would have been. Does it mean we want a different life? No. {For me, never.} But does it mean we wonder? Yes. We do. And then our feelings drift to why? That "why" will hang over our heads until we get the chance to ask the ones who can answer it, which some of us never will.

Birthdays are much harder than one would think. Not because we're growing older. No. It's because we can't stop wondering if the proverbial "they" are thinking about us. Do they remember this day? What are their memories/feelings/regrets about this day? Or is it just another day for them? Do they remember? Do they miss me? Do they wish they knew me?

There's a lot more guilt than we talk about. We wrestle with our desire to want to know more (everything) about our heritage/birth family/genes. We worry that will make our adoptive family think we love them less. We don't. But we need to know basic things that most people automatically have given to them upon birth into a family. Let us explore. Let us search. Let us meet. Let us love and be loved by both of the families who made us who we are. Without abandon. And maybe help us along the way.

Don't assume gratitude. This is a hard one for me to type. I am impacted greatly by gratitude; I believe we all are. But don't assume that we should be grateful for the life we've been given. Especially in those teenage years, when all we search for is autonomy, sometimes all we can think about is how life would/could be better/different. Don't say to me, "You should be grateful for the family you have." I am grateful. We are. We adoptees are. But why should we assume that our life is greater without our "roots?" That's a hard pill to swallow for us.

I look into my 3 kid's eyes and I sometimes even admittedly think that. That I wish they'd be grateful for the sacrifice and love and hard issues we sludge through with them. But the truth is, I know they are silently fighting a battle that they don't even want to be in.

And so in our home, we provide safety and (hopefully) transparency. We talk about birth family and birth parents as fluidly as we talk about our own. We talk about what could have been, what might have been. We talk about how all of our family has shaped who we are. We talk about how we have to choose which way to to pick the good parts of all of it and learn to be comfortable with who we are. We talk about how hard birthdays are. And sometimes, when relaying our conversations to my husband, tears are shed. Because I don't want my children to know how I understand both sides now. I get them wanting their roots. And I also get me wanting to protect them from whatever possible harm there could be in their roots.

We celebrate big days (birthdays, gotcha, adoption, etc) with the realization that the only way our family can celebrate these days is because our child has experienced such a great and devastating loss. That can not be forgotten or left out.

Similar to life itself, great beauty rises from the ashes of hurt. And though no family is perfect, mine was perfect for me. I pray when my three are grown, they will say the same of us.

And most importantly, the beauty outweighs the hurt. Always.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Power of Presence

I have been working on this post for a long time. Years, actually.

We tragically lost my in-laws two winters ago...42 days apart. Before that, we went through job loss and unemployment (for months and months). And really since we've been married, we've suffered with infertility. We've had fall out from lifelong friendships. We've walked through dark days when friends had to say goodbye to their own child.

The truth is hard. Like...*really* hard.

Not that we should expect anything less. I am positive if we asked people to list their hardships, it would be hard to pen. But {sometimes} worse than the hardships themselves are the {well-meaning} people and their...phrases.

I know I'm not the only one here who is tired of all the clichés and phrases. You know the ones.

"God'll never give you more than you can handle."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"He/she is in a better place now."
"He gives the hardest trials to the strongest."
"God needed another angel."
"God brings us through trials to make us stronger."
"Forgive and forget."

...and the list goes on and on...

One cliché I have found to be true: your true friends do come out in the darkest of days. The people who will just come and sit. The ones who go out of their way to love you. I must say the people that have loved us through our struggles are my favorite people to this day.

The power of presence. It's a phrase I've been blowing around in my mind for a while. I'm not sure if I heard it somewhere or what. But boy. There sure is power in presence. I wish I had known sooner. I wish I had been more "there" for people I love when they were walking their darkest days. We all get caught up in how uncomfortable it is and what will we say and how will we smile ever again to them...

The truth is sitting with them is what they need. Maybe a listening ear. Maybe someone to whisk their children away so they can sleep. Maybe meals, maybe words, maybe hugs, maybe flowers. But for sure presence.

Presence is powerful. Don't ever question that...from one who has experienced it from all the angles.

Presence. Is. Powerful.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Adoption + Dory

I have to tell my side. I have to. I feel like everyone and their mother (literally 😂) has something to say about Dory & adoption. Please hear my perspective as both an adoptee and an adoptive momma. 

My family was able to go see Finding Dory the day it came out! What a blessing!

I will preface this by saying that I didn't do much research about the movie beforehand (which is honestly rare). We have much anticipated this film since Nemo, as it is one of our favorites. So when we got cheap tickets, we were in our seats, popcorn in hand. 

I'm sure you've seen all the reviews and {almost} panicky parents warning us to be careful what we expose our adoptive/foster children to. And while I agree, you will also hear me pleading with you to not shelter them from feeling the things we need to feel. They're a part of who we are. 

I use "we" because I am one of them. I am adopted. And I feel all those feelings. I felt them at 4 and 10 and now at {ahem} 35. And no matter how hard you try as an adoptive parent, you can not feel or even know or even partially comprehend the thoughts/feelings/emotions that we go through on a daily/weekly/monthly/annual basis. We don't speak of them. For many reasons, but they're there.

Here is my response to the many reviews and posts on Adoption + Dory. 

As an adopted person, I'm gonna be honest. Finding Dory was both an awesome and terrifying experience for me. I felt all the feels, right alongside Dory. I had all the "issues" come up that are mentioned in the reviews, and I am a grown woman who has now adopted 2 (almost 3) of my own.

During the movie at one point, my adoptive son was letting me hug him (which is rare on any given day). There's this one scene where Dory says all the hard stuff, "What if they don't want me to find them? What if I find them and they don't want to see me? What if they're mad at me. What if they think this is my fault?" 

And I was sobbing. These questions are real and hard and heart breaking and silent in our lives. No one dares say them aloud. And I'm not even from foster care. I don't have great or horrible memories with my birth family. But that doesn't mean I still don't wonder what life would have been like (even if I wouldn't change a thing).

I still think about these questions every day. And until they get answered, they will be asked. And I dare say most of us adoptees think these same thoughts are are quite possibly comforted that someone said them aloud. 

So far, my kids haven't really talked about any issues that came with this movie, but I'm certain it brought stuff up. I'm certain of it. So instead of shielding them from it, I will be here, ready to talk, ready to listen, ready to say, "this sucks feeling this way. I'm sorry you're feeling this way." 

And I will hug them and be comforted that a movie said my/our feelings aloud, and even though they're hard to hear, is actually kind of awesome. Yes. There are things to process. As an adult, and for my sweet,sweet children from hard places.

So, adoptive/foster parents, let's do that. In a non-threatening way. I would be more concerned about making sure my child can always say exactly how they feel (about adoption/foster and the myriad of emotions it wells up at the most random of moments in life). I would hear the hard things and love, love, love. I would save my tears for when they can't see so they don't try to keep their feelings from me.

Because who else are they going to tell? I want to be the one. And so I will try. 

#adoptionisbeautiful #itsalsoreallyreallyhard

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Other Mother

I think of her today. A lot. Both of hers. All three of hers.

She's probably missing them...these kids I have the blessing of loving day to day. She probably wonders about them most days, but I suppose Mother's Day is difficult for her to face. She can't escape this holiday. It's everywhere...swirling all around.

And I'm sure swirling with all the flowery praises we all give our moms, she drowns in shame that she is not there beside her (amazing) children. She wonders where they are, what they're doing...who they are. 

I assure you, sweet birth momma(s)...they are amazing. They are sure, happy, and stubborn. They are well. They are talented and funny. They are bright and have many dreams. They are loved. Through and through. By so many.  

And I also assure you that they're thinking about you on this Mother's Day. I know this because we've talked about you today. I have made sure they know that this mom is grateful for you. I even think and wonder about my own birth mom on Mother's Day. And though I've never asked her, I'm sure I cross her mind on this day. 

You are not forgotten, birth mommas. We  hope and pray that you know this...that you rest in this. And please know that this quote rings true in my heart and life. 


From one mother to the other mother: our kids need both of us. And you are not forgotten.