Sunday, December 13, 2009

Balancing Act

Is it possible to balance the joy I feel for my daughter's adoption and the sorrow I feel for the woman who gave her child to us?

It seems like the scale is always tipping in one direction or the other----that there never is a balance because the two emotions are not equal.

Adoption is presented as win-win by most agencies. The mom finds a family for her baby when parenting "just isn't possible," while the adoptive couple, many of whom cannot have children biologically, becomes parents. But the truth is, there is loss all the way around.

My first focus when we entered the world of adoption was our gain---we filled out some forms, created a profile, paid some money, waited and then got a baby. WIN! But truly, getting to that place of an adoption decision wasn't and is never easy. Many couples face years, even decades of infertility treatments. In our case, we faced my life-altering diagnosis of diabetes, one that changed our life plans forever. Other couples face cancer, or genetic risks. There's always a loss that leads couples to another door: adoption.

As I began to learn more about birth parents, who are also called biological parents, first parents, or natural parents, depending on who one asks, I began to slowly realize that there is a losing side to adoption. That my gain is someone else's loss. And that birth parents to not "get over" or "move past" the loss of their children. That these parents will always have an ache in their hearts for their children. Even when they truly believe they are at peace or "did the right/unselfish thing"---there is nothing or no one who can fulfill the place that is designated, by nature, for their child.

I am now slowly learning more about the adoptee perspective. When I first started the process, I was thinking only about getting the nursery ready and holding a sweet baby while sitting in front of a Christmas tree, or imagining myself pushing my baby in a stroller in the spring air while listening to singing birds. Yeah, total Hallmark movie, right? But I'm learning more what adoption might mean for my daughter. It's scary stuff, this new information, yet I crave it. I want to be prepared to address her concerns and questions.

No matter what I've learned presently and what I didn't know in the past, I have always wanted to do the best and right thing. Any parent does. My situation doesn't just include a parent, me, and a baby, her, but also the person who birthed my daughter, who carried her inside of her for thirty-nine weeks. (When my daughter turned nine months old, I realized that this milestone was "outnumbered" by the amount of time her first mother had carried her. Wow.) And how do I put all that together and "do the right thing"? And is it my job to do this?

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for my child and for the woman who chose us to parent her baby. I am thankful that God's hand was in our adoption situation. I am thankful for every day that I get to spend with my daughter and the never-ending access I have to God to pray for my child's biological mother---which I do...daily.

But inside me, there is always a conflict, one that won't stop. It isn't out of guilt---I didn't choose my baby; my baby was chosen to be placed with us. It isn't out of obligation---because people can brush aside or forget about obligations. It isn't out of feelings---because feelings come and go.

It's really out of the fact that I know. I KNOW. The education, the knowledge, is powerful. Ignorance is far more blissful, and it's also wrong because ignorance is a chosen behavior in many cases. Sincerely. I believe that after one knows and understands that adoption isn't a win-win or a perfect solution, that there are dark places and dusty corners, that joy from one parent and sorrow from another are forever and intricately intertwined, that one has a responsibility to carry that knowledge, to refer to that knowledge, and to take some sort of action, whatever that may be in each person's situation.

The balance of the overwhelming joy I feel every single moment I am with my child and the sorrow I feel for the woman who is without those joys is altogether difficult and never-ending. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to that win-win-happy-go-lucky attitude toward adoption. And I'm not sure I want to.

1 comments:

Glenna Marshall said...

Boy, do I know what you mean, Rach. You really articulated what I think about nearly every single day. Is it weird to say I think it's GOOD for us to feel the weightiness of this? It is good to be reminded often of my son's birthmother. It is good to know that this is a heavy, weighty thing. It is good for it to hurt me a little when I think about it.
Because that's nothing compared to her loss.

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