It is National Adoption Month and I have all the feelings about it. Feelings that defy summation in their complexity and messiness. I am on a journey; one that has broken me many times and will continue to do so because IT SHOULD. Our journey has most certainly been more heartbreaking and more wonderful than I ever imagined. I say “our” because it is a family journey- but that being said I acknowledge and recognize it is not AT ALL about me. The voices of adoptees must be listened to and truly heard if those who adopt can truly be present and be brave to face our feelings in service to wholeness for all. I pray that I am brave enough to always listen and learn from those voices.
I feel a deep sadness that she cannot be with her first mother and that in our adoption story is also woven a deep sense of rejection and the loss of so many things. This journey has exposed my glaring failures, my weakest insecurities, as well as invitations for healing for us all. It is not about me yet I somehow find a way to make it about me. I am selfish and sometimes I want to just have uncomplicated feelings about days like Mother’s Day or birthdays. I want there to be a clear path forward in building a relationship with her first family instead of the nuanced and prayerful requirement that the journey demands. I want to allow space for her to express all her feelings about the family that loved her and raised her for her first few formative years. I need to allow deep soul work and healing for myself to not feel rejection or sadness when she wishes things were different or when she asks lots of questions that do not have easy answers. I want to protect her from it all but I cannot because it is her story. I cannot “fix” this because that implies her feelings are broken and they are not. They reflect the gravity of all that has happened.
At a recent conference an adult adoptee shared some of her experience and quoted this to us, “Adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.” by the Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE. Read that again. It has not left me. The BUT then “happily ever after” mythology is not honoring to all involved. This is why when people say things like “she is better off” or “she is so lucky to have been adopted” I can no longer smile and nod because people “mean well.” We need to challenge narratives that are more about making the adoptive family feel better about everything then to be brave enough to question what is actually true and best. And as the great Karyn Purvis always said, “you cannot out love trauma.” Not matter how much I try I cannot nor should I try to love her feelings away about her loss. Rather I see my calling in this to love her through it all and be present to allow feelings that make me uncomfortable. We are building a story of love and loss and beauty through hard things. I don’t believe that offering space for the lament of adoption means we cannot also celebrate. Denying the hard parts of adoption do not uncomplicate our celebrations; they cheapen them. We are trusting that God sees pain and does not erase parts of our story to make them more tidy but that He specializes in healing and meeting us in the deepest parts of our pain. God does not turn away from hard places- He is found especially deep within them.
Happy Adoption Month friends,
*Images by Tyler Core