About a year ago, during National Adoption Awareness Month 2013, I announced to the world that I was adopting Hope. We were already matched. I had been out to visit her, and I was anticipating her nearly two week visit later in the month. All things pointed to an imminent placement with the goal of eventually finalizing.
I was excited, elated, high off of joy. I was going to be a mom! I knew it would be challenging, but I thought hey, I can do this and I want the world to know.
To quote Lauryn Hill, “It was all so simple then…”
A year later, my daughter Hope has now been with me for 10 months, and we finalized our adoption 6 months ago.
And we have been through some ish.
A lot of I’ve written about or rather through, and a lot I haven’t written about at all. Some of it seems…unspeakable, and in those moments I felt as broken and as alone as I ever have and probably as much as Hope felt at the time.
Along the way, I’ve found a cool community of fellow adopters. Day to day support has been…tricky at times, but truthfully, even if I didn’t feel like it, someone was there. It wasn’t always the person I wanted, but someone was there.
I got some things right, but I’ve made colossal mistakes. I’ve triumphed. I’ve failed. I’ve cared, been accused of caring too much and have not cared so much as to give one more damn at times over the last year.
I’ve experienced so many emotions that I’m convinced I created some new ones along the way. I’ve experienced sadness and anger the most, to be honest. Happiness is something I often have to deliberately pursue because that emotion hasn’t taken up permanent residence here yet.
In all, it’s been some radical highs and some spirit crushing lows.
And if I’m really, really honest, I am not sure I would do it again. Oh, gosh I love my daughter fiercely—and she is MY daughter– but I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was still mourning the life I had or that the challenges of the year haven’t worn me down in multiple ways that give me pause about everything.
No regrets, just curious about what my alternative life would be like now (it’s nice to fantasize) and wondering what could I have possibly done to have been better prepared or to have done a better job along the way.
So there’s my broad stroke recap of the last year as I reflect on “adoption awareness.”
These awareness months can be odd things, you know? We celebrate different peoples, histories and cultures; we commemorate things, pledge to fight diseases by raising research money and walking and running various distances. We raise awareness about all sorts of stuff, including adoption.
Ok, so be “aware” of adoption this month. #yepstillasmartypants
I’ve been reading a lot of adoptee blogs lately.
Sometimes they make me feel absurdly self-absorbed in my thinking and writing about my trials on this journey. But then I remember this is a blog about my journey in my own voice, so there’s that.
That said, I’m learning from the blogs of adoptees that there is this clear call for voice, for agency over self, over their adoption narrative and about all the bits and pieces that make for unique experiences with uniquely framed challenges. And as I read these blogs, I wonder about Hope’s experiences—not just from the last year—but from her life. Naturally I think about these things a lot, but as I learn more I maybe see this journey much differently than I did before.
In the midst of my own joy in coming to motherhood, there sits such huge amounts of loss that at times it can be breathtaking.
I can’t enumerate all that Hope has lost, but in my nearly 42 years, I haven’t experienced a fraction of that kind of loss. And despite all this “adoption awareness” I must remind myself of that nearly hourly. When she is acting like a real pill, and it is a mixture of being 13 (plainly hell on earth) and having experienced so much in her few years, I have got to remember the role the latter really plays in the behaviors that push me to the brink. I don’t all ways do a good job of this; to be honest, I feel like I largely suck at it. This home probably isn’t as healing as it should be at times. And I imagine that it’s because I fail to be “adoption aware” in the moment.
”Adoption awareness” is largely narrated by adoptive parents. I didn’t appreciate that a year ago. But now, as I see new adoptive parents praying that God gets the birth mother to stop considering to parent her child so that they, the adoptive parents, get to keep their child, I get the pervasiveness of that framework. I see both sides of the story now, thanks to the voices of adoptees.
I hear it now as I went to the altar this weekend for prayer for me and Hope as the person praying to me said that my little family was predestined by God and isn’t it wonderful how things worked out. Well, yeah, it is, but really did Hope have to suffer for me to parent her? So, her loss was predestined. I struggle with that, even as I know how many times the Holy Homeboy has demonstrated his power in the midst of tragedy; I radically question the why must Hope suffer, even today as irritating middle schoolers tease her about even needing to be adopted and as we navigate integrating our lives together.
Adoption is rarely neat and tidy. Gosh we need more complicated people to jump into these complicated situations. But we also need to keep an ear to the ground and be ever mindful about how our children see themselves in the journey, how they reflect on the journey and how they narrate their own journey.
My journey is forever linked to Hope’s and this blog is about my story, not hers. It is just one side of the adoption story. I look forward to years from now, having tea (or something stronger) on a wraparound porch (my architectural fantasy) hearing her talk about her journey. If I really try hard to pay attention now, I won’t be as shocked by the emotions that come tumbling out then as I seem to be now.
So that’s my early month two cents, musings on National Adoption Awareness Month.