Every month, it seems, is riddled with it’s own awareness. From Breast Cancer Awareness month to Domestic violence awareness month, it seems each months has it’s own thing to raise awareness for. I love it personally; I enjoy learning about new things and others learning as well.
November is Adoption Month. A topic near and dear to my heart. I have been living in the foster care life since I was about 12 years old. I spent my teen years with foster siblings in and out of our home. My parents adopted my two youngest siblings when I was about 19. My husband and I chose to become foster parents before we were even married and less than 6 months into our marriage had two wonderful children living with us. Now, before I have even hit 25, I’ve parented 7 kids, have legal guardianship of one, am in the process of adopting two others and birthing my second biological child(and sixth forever child) a month before I turn a quarter of a century. I studied for two years to someday be a social worker and currently am working on becoming a biological parent resource once I am able to leave the house for long periods of time again(Read-done having babies and they no longer are nursing.)
To say my life has been touched by foster care and adoption is to down play it. My life is saturated with foster care and adoption. Which is why, in the face of a month that is dedicated to raising awareness, I want to share some of the things I have become aware of the past decade of my life, as a sibling, a parent, a worker, a volunteer.
The biological family is not the enemy. Nothing in this world will make me become defensive as quickly as someone badmouthing my children’s biological family. Yes, I have heard the stories. I have heard more than you can even imagine. I studied these stories, remember? But my kids first families are not the enemy. I will not sit there and allow you, a person who knows nothing about the struggles they have gone through, to insult them. I will not allow you to deny how hard they have worked nor to erase their lives. We have chosen to stay open with their first families and they have many times become a part of our family. Even in cases where this is not true nor possible, the adopted child will usually still have feelings of love for those first families. It is never okay for you to insult or bad mouth them. The real enemy is a broken cycle, a hurting system, and a rampage of mental illnesses and addictions growing in our society. I love my children’s biological families. I pray for many of them daily.
My children are/were not “orphans. “ This word has been shared far too many times this month, far too easily. My kids were never unwanted. They were never without parents. Even now, they have two sets of parents. Erasing their heritage, erasing their biological families…that is not acceptable. They are not orphans.
Adoption is not a second place option. I see this sometimes, more often as my friends/family members try and grow their families. “You can always adopt if you can’t have a child!” Dear God, no. Not that you shouldn’t adopt, I believe adoption is beautiful, but it shouldn’t be a “instead of” option after you try to have a biological child. We began our family both ways-by fostering to adopt and then by having a biological baby. I don’t know what the correct order is to do these things; some people will adopt then begin to have biological children, some will actively choose to ONLY adopt, others will choose to wait for their biological babes to grow and then begin fostering and adopting, and some will do both at the same time like we did. No matter what order you do it in, just make sure it isn’t just because you have already exhausted your other options.
Adoption is beautiful. It is also heartbreaking. It is also devastating.
We cannot forget those two points.
I love adoption. I have a beautiful sister and brother through it. I will have two amazing children from it. I love adoption.
I also hate adoption.
There, I said it. I hate that adoption becomes an option. I hate that my children grieve the family they could have had. I hate that in the midst of this joyous thing for us, we are left mourning the first family that is being destroyed. I hate that there is this complex that by adopting, we are “saving” our kids or that we are inherently better than their first families. I hate being expected to hate their first families. I hate the long lasting effects that aspects of their lives will follow them forever. I love my kids, but what comes before adoption and sometimes what comes after…they are not this rosy life I feel is often portrayed. One of my favorite adoption quotes:
My kids do not need to be thankful for this life. I am so blessed to have my kids. But they are not blessed to be in the situation they are in. I am okay with them not always being grateful for me. I’m okay with them being sad for what they lost. I’m okay with them questioning who they are and where they belong in this world.
You develop differently depending on how you grow your family-and that’s okay. I love my kids, all of them. I still love the ones I only had a few months, I love the one I only had a few days. But the bond you form with a child when you meet them for the first time at 17 is different than the bond you form when you meet them at 3 and is different from the bond you make with a child that grows in your body. I’m learning now in my second pregnancy, this is also true for two kids you grow inside you, even if they were both planned. These differences are not bad. I would lay my life down for any of my kids. I love them more than anything else. But there are differences in our relationships. And that’s okay.
I am not sharing any of these to discourage others from adopting or fostering; both have been life altering aspects of my life. I’m sharing these to be honest about things we need to raise awareness on within adopting.
If you have any interest in becoming an adoptive or foster parent, I will happily help you find a place in which you can further question and learn about either! There are 100K+ kids in foster care who are legally freed for adoption, all of whom need forever homes.