My family definitely loves adoption! My husband and I felt called to adoption from the very beginning of our marriage and it was overwhelming to see our prayers answered in the form of this precious life entrusted to us. Our story is special and we are forever grateful for the opportunity to have adopted our daughter. Adoption has been a beautiful experience for us, but I would be remiss to say that adoption as a whole is not always bittersweet. For everyone who gains, there is always someone who loses. Sometimes the birth family, sometimes the adoptive family, always the child. We are all too aware, therefore, that for some adoptive families it has been a very difficult, frustrating, expensive, and heartbreaking journey. So with adoption being complicated, even at its least complicated, there is so much to think about. One of the many questions we are often asked is, “Are you going to tell her she is adopted?” There are many difficult questions but for us, this has just never been one of them.
We have chosen to tell our daughter that she was adopted.
We will never let it be the thing that defines her, but we will always value her “adoption story” just as we value the “birth stories” of our biological children. We know with being honest about her adoption, we will at times face harsh criticism, because, well, we already have. For many, our authenticity and vulnerability seem like a no-brainer, and most people have respected our decisions. Others, however, while I really do believe their intentions were in the interest of our child, have had pretty harsh opinions about adoption and how open we were through the process. We have already noted that we will have to prepare her for how to deal with these type of comments, as they inevitably will come.
There are many ways to tell a great story.
That said, there are many ways to adopt and just as many opinions on how it should be handled: publicly, privately, secretly, larger than life … I have heard most of the common opinions and have worked to understand the value in all of them. There are many reasons why people feel the need to keep an adoption private. It’s not that they are hiding a dark secret, but it’s also not the entire world’s business. I hear where these people are coming from. I understand that everyone’s experience is unique. Adoptions can be kept private for personal safety, emotional security, and countless other reasons. It’s important to me that my opinion on our circumstances not be a judgment on what is right for someone else’s family. The truth is, as life has probably taught you, there are many sides to every story, and we do not usually know them all.
Adopting in the age of Social Media.
We adopted through the foster system. We plan to continue fostering and have been doing so since shortly after our daughter was adopted. In her case, foster children will likely always be a part of her upbringing and we will always be advocates for foster care. It does not seem likely that we could continue to foster children without being honest with her about how we fostered her. Another thing to note, is that in the age of social media, it would be rather hard to explain how she magically showed up in our lives one day without me ever having had a baby bump! Everyone who knows us, knows her adoption story! So it would be really difficult and exhausting to spend our days, worrying that one of my Facebook friends was going to slip-up and tell her …
To keep something private is not to apply shame to it.
I want to be clear that the opposite of being open about a child’s adoption is not to be secretive about it. There is a difference between privacy and secrecy. I know quite a few people who have kept their adoptions private. In some cases, the child knows, and in some cases, the child does not know (or not yet). In all those cases, the whole world does not need to know and it isn’t discussed.
Adoption is a very beautiful thing and nothing to ever be ashamed of.
Adoption is something that changes lives in many directions. We want our daughter to know that she was adopted. We believe that everyone has the right to own their story. Even now, she is a little human being with rights, and we want to respect her story. After all, it is her story to tell. So we will tell her everything she wants to know when the time is right and we will respect her wishes on what to do with it. Our biological children have stories of their own, and we are also teaching them to respect their stories and wisely choose when, why, and how they share them. Our children will one day be adolescents, teenagers, and adults. We are trying to think of them in that season as we discuss them in this one.
Big or small, it’s hard to keep a miracle quiet.
We respect our daughter and want her to grow up fully understanding where she came from and how deeply we love her. Did we “choose her” as some people say? I suppose so. But did she also choose us? Absolutely. She has loved us relentlessly since the day she came in our home. She has fallen in love with every person in our family and all of our friends. She sees the good in us when we are awful. She loves on us and nurtures us in her sweet way when we are sad. She delights in being a part of our family and she gifts us with her giggles, snuggles, and immeasurable joy. I cannot imagine a life where she is not allowed to fully know who she is and be fully known for who she is. She is a beautiful gift that came into our world, by all accounts, one of life’s many miracles.