Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Adoption Month

It's no secret that my family was formed through adoption--when both parents are white and the children are all African-American, biracial, Chinese, or some combination, it's pretty obvious and often garners unwanted attention. We're used to it by now. Okay, not really, but I'm getting better at not kicking strangers in the grocery store. From time to time someone makes a sympathetic comment about how sad it is that I don't have any of "my own."

I have a range of replies to this, most of which are very civil and polite and involve no eye-rolling, and a very few of which pop out of my mouth at certain times of the month when Witch-Wendy surfaces. Lest you think I overreact, I ask how YOU would feel if total strangers regularly came up to and questioned the validity and realness of your family relationships, right in front of your impressionable small children. I thought so.

In honor of National Adoption Month, which, coincidentally, is the month that two of my four had their adoptions legally finalized, I'm going to turn the tables. I've always felt a little sorry for all those poor people whose lives aren't touched by adoption. So, in no particular order, here is my list of reasons that I LOVE adoption and wouldn't in a million years trade the way my little family was created:

1.) I can brag all I want about my kids and it's not an ego thing--those aren't my genes that created those brilliant, talented, loving, gorgeous little people.

2.) Knowing firsthand, in the most personal, down-to-the-bone kind of way, that love is thicker than blood, blind to color/race/ability or any of the other divisions society puts on it.

3.) If someone gets tired of hearing me blather on about my kids, or tires of seeing yet more pictures of said kids, there's always someone else! Birthfamilies exponentially increase the number of people who love my kids, trulymadlydeeply love them. Can a child ever have too much love?

4.) An excuse to immerse myself in new worlds. I've discovered that I love African-American literature and Chinese peasant art, and have a thing for black history. Who knew?

5.) Validation of my ability to parent! Yes, the endless round of social workers, attorneys, and judges is beyond annoying (although we had the very BEST attorney in the world through the whole journey, duly noted). But unlike most parents, I've got at least ten different homestudies that pronounce me a fit parent--heck, most of them say all kinds of nice things about my mothering. And four times a judge has concurred, signing documents that make my relationship with my kiddos legally binding and real. On bad days I've been known to go through some of those documents and read them aloud as a reminder that once upon a time, at least one person thought I was up to the task.

6.) One word: cornrows.

7.) Having each precious one sealed in the temple. It doesn't get any better.

8.) Connections. My children's birthfamilies have become part of my family. I am so blessed to have them in my life. Through the adoption and infertility groups I've been a part of, I've found some of my dearest friends, friendships that transcend our common experiences in adoption and carry over to the rest of life. And because adoption is such a visible, public thing for our family, I frequently get sweet experiences of proud grandparents showing pictures of their adopted grandbabies, or whispered conversations--punctuated by tears and lots of hugs--with relative strangers who placed a baby for adoption months or years ago and felt the rightness of that choice confirmed when they saw our family together.

9.) I've learned things I didn't know about myself. I can survive things I didn't think I could survive. I can love a baby and say goodbye to that baby and know that I'll do it again even though it will hurt again, because even if it's only for a day or a month or a year, it's still worth it to love that baby. I've learned that I can wait. I've learned that I can give up control--yes, even a control-freak like me. I've learned to let go of my plan and let God accomplish His purposes.

10.) I've learned things I didn't know about God. His plan is always better. Newsflash to me. Several times now I've watched mothers say heartbreaking goodbyes to a child they carried, birthed, and loved, goodbyes made possible only because that love was strong enough to do the impossible. I understand the Atonement a little better than I did before. I've sat with women who placed a child for adoption thirty or forty years ago, who remember every detail as if it were yesterday, who tell me that a day has not gone by that they haven't thought of that baby. I understand in a deeper way Isaiah 49:15-16 and just how much God loves us. And I should correct no. 9 above. I can't survive anything on my own. With God, I can come through anything. He's been with me through every loss, every goodbye, every magical and brand new welcome, every moment of connection. I know that He keeps His word, that "I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine & Covenants 84:88).

Happy National Adoption Month,
from a very happy adoptive Momma.


tren said...

What a lovely post, Wendy. Your kids are so lucky to have a mother who loves them so much.

Becky and Chris said...

You are the mom! Being an adoptive parent is so much braver, in my opinion, than the whole giving birth thing. This also means that you have so much love to give and any child of yours will be so much the better for it. I don't know how to say it any better than you did. My cousin Tessa, who is now 17, was adopted and our family wouldn't be complete without her. It was so hard at first because her mother changed her mind and took her back. She then realized what was best for her daughter and gave her back to my aunt and uncle. For them, it was like loosing a child of your own flesh and blood. God sends his precious children to Earth so they can experience living in a family and to give and receive love. It's our job, no matter what our relationship to others, to give love in the most unrestrained way we can. Those children are yours, sealed and eternal. Wow, God is great!

angie said...

I LOVE this post! Thank you so much for your inspiring words.

Krio Tity said...

You have gorgeous kids (who are also well-behaved.) Too bad people can't seem to get past the skin color = they're only shortchanging themselves.

Christiejo said...

You are so right Wendy. The love that we have for our children comes through the sacrifice and love that we give to them. We only have to look at all of the heartbreaking cases where children are mistreated by those who "share their genetics" to realize that that has nothing to do with the basis of love. My cousin, has two by adoption and one through in vitro. Of course, she loves them all the same. It is the act of being a mother, that creates a mother's love, not a genetic profile.