November is National Adoption Awareness month. In some way, shape or form, it feels like everyone has been touched by adoption. My husband and I have 2 children, both adopted through newborn domestic adoption.
What does adoption mean to me? Gosh, I could write for days about the many aspects of adoption. However, since no one would likely read that and since I’m strapped for only a few moments here and there to write as I power through busy days with a 4-year-old and 1-year-old, I’ll keep my own personal list to the Top 8 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Adoption.
1. Adoption is born out of loss.
I don’t say that to be cliché or philosophical. If my children’s birth parents were in good places to parent, they would have done so. I saw the tears and heartache in my daughter’s birthmom’s eyes as she kissed our daughter goodbye in our hotel room. This experience was likely one of the hardest, if not the hardest, things her birthmom will ever have to go through in life. It’s a huge loss not only for the birth parents but also for the child. My children are my children because the 2 women who carried them for 9 months and loved on them for those 9 months chose a life for them that they could not give. Although our children gained a forever family with us, on the day we became their parents they both also lost that same connection with their birthmother.
2. My children will never look like me.
Since my children are young they haven’t really caught on to the fact that they don’t have any of the physical qualities of any other family members. When someone says our nephew looks just like his granddad or that our niece has curly hair just like her dad, I do feel a sadness in my heart that my children will not have that. When they are old enough to realize this, I hope to God they know they are loved to the ends of the earth by so many people. And that even though they don’t look like us that, for better or worse, my daughter embodies my own stubbornness and my son is carefree just like his Daddy.
3. Open adoption can be amazing!
The fact that we have ultrasound photos of our daughter and got to have the hospital experience when she was born is so beautiful. However, open adoption doesn’t exist to make the adoptive parents happy. Open adoption is primarily for the adoptees. People, children, everyone desires to know where they came from and who they resemble. Open adoption allows the adoptees to be able to answer those questions and possibly form lasting relationships with the people who gave them life. My children’s birth families can offer them that special bond and connection that I will never be able to give them.
4. My children’s adoption stories are their stories to tell.
Once you adopt everyone seems to want to know and feel they deserve to know the nitty gritty details, like “Did their birth parents do drugs?” or “Does the birthmom have any other children?” or “Was their birthmom really young?” If there’s one thing I have learned over and over from other adoptive families, it’s that my child’s adoption story is theirs alone to tell. To this day, my husband and I have chosen not to share our children’s adoption stories with anyone. Although at times it has made family members feel sad or left out, we have only done it out of love and respect for our children. If later on our children want to share details about their birth parents and their adoption stories with certain people (or even with everyone!), then we will 100% support them. But it is just that, their choice when and who to tell.
5. Adoption failures happen.
Before we adopted our son, we had an adoption failure. In August of 2015, we were matched with and expectant mother. On October 12th, the baby was born and my husband and I flew down to Florida to meet who we thought would become our son. Four days later, the mother chose to parent. Right up there with losing my mom to breast cancer at 20 years of age, that adoption that fell through was one of the top 2 hardest and most trying moments of my life. The tears and heartache of that whole experience were some of the most painful days of my life. To this day, I still choke up talking about it. Did I ever feel ill-will or hatred toward the mother? No, never. Did I ever feel like she shouldn’t have had the choice to parent even after the baby was born? Of course not. But that doesn’t take away from the pain and sadness I felt.
6. I am not angel or a saint because I chose to adopt.
Why did I choose to adopt? Because I wanted to be a mom. I’m not an angel that came to rescue the 2 babies that became my children. Due to infertility issues, my husband and I were unable to have biological children. We chose to adopt because we both wanted to be parents. It’s that simple.
7. Adoption is beautiful.
I am a mother because of adoption. That is a beautiful thing. My children not only have all of the family members in our lives that love them but also their birth families. That is also a beautiful thing.
Kate lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and 2 children. Brittany (co-owner of NWAMB) is Kate’s sister-in-law. Kate is a stay-at-home mom to her 2 children, both adopted through newborn domestic adoption. She serves as the Secretary/Social Media Chair of Infertility and Adoption Support, Inc., a local infertility and adoption group in St. Louis (http://infertilityandadoption.org/). This group has not only provided support during the adoption process, but has given Kate so many close friendships. When not running around with 2 young children, she also works PRN as a Speech Language Pathologist at a pediatric clinic. In her free time, Kate enjoys training for an upcoming half-marathon, traveling, reading, and play dates with fellow moms.