Friday, August 12, 2011

Second Best?

I get pretty sad, for lack of a better word, when I hear someone say they "have to adopt" because nothing else has worked. It's like they are settling, choosing something second best. I've also heard people ask adoptive families why they "have to adopt" (which is, of course, totally none of their business!), implying that adoption is a last resort.

I never ever ever want my children to feel as though they are second best. The truth is, adoption wasn't in our plans when we got married. Not because we despised it, but truly because it never crossed our minds. We figured, like many couples, we'd get married, have a few kids (biologically, of course), and live happily ever after.

But when type I diabetes stormed in, we reevaluated our decision to have biological children. It would be quite risky to my health and potentially to the health of the unborn child. The list of potential complications is extensive, ranging from rapid organ and system deterioration in the mother to blood sugar issues or major birth defects in the baby. Death for both was also a possibility.


We're talking about some pretty serious stuff.

I wasn't willing to risk my health or put my own desires (to have a biological child) above the health of that child.

The decision to adopt was immediate (upon diagnosis) and complete for me. It wasn't second best. It was best. 100%.

I don't know how I arrived at that choice so clearly and completely. God? Maybe. Type A personality? Partly. But it happened.

I was confident in this choice from day #1. While others would doubt our choice---questioning, didn't we want our own?---I held true to my conviction. I honestly couldn't understand why people weren't getting it. Diabetes was a BIG FREAKING DEAL. Did they not see how close I was to death? How diabetes could kill me or an unborn child---and I should be ok with that and in the name of biology force my body through hell in order to have "my own"?

I realize that not every woman arrives at the decision to adopt in the same way. Nor are some women 100% ok with adoption, because deep down, they are always longing for the possibility of a biological child. I read many blogs and Facebook posts testifying to the "but maybe" and "what if" moments these women have.

My fertility, unlike many of my adoptive mama friends, wasn't stolen from me. But my life was drastically altered, DRASTICALLY, by the loss of all my body's insulin. Not only was the decision to not have biological children changed, but every single day of my life is dictated by my disease. That's how a chronic disease is. Even if you want to be normal, you can't, because your disease will hit you upside the head or kick you in butt when you least want it to, telling you, "You are not normal. You are sick."

I guess in some ways, infertility is a lot like a chronic disease. It's ever-present. Even on good days, when we feel at peace, it's still there, quietly lurking about, preparing to pounce.

What is the point of this post? I guess that we, as adoptive parents, we have to be sensitive to the words we use AND the words we accept in our lives from others. "Have to" is rather dangerous. It sends a powerfully negative, if not life-altering message to our adopted kiddos. We can't and shouldn't push our personal issues (whether that's loss of fertility, a chronic disease, or anything else) onto our children for them to carry. It's just too much. We have to be really careful what we say and who we say it to (it could come back and bite us and our children in the rear). We have to be careful what we blog---because once it's out there, it's out there. Would you be ok with your child reading what you are writing? And we have to really guard our own minds---what are we dumping onto ourselves. I was once totally obsessed with an online adoption forum---until I realized it was only making me crazy, that the things shared were only hindering me, not helping me, become a better mom and wife. I had to let. it. go.

My girls are not second best. God knew before I was born that I would end up with this horrible disease. He knew Miss E and Baby E would be mind. He carefully planted people in my life who would cultivate adoption-minded love. I see where jobs I worked---as a nanny, as preschool teacher at church, as a babysitter, as a day care worker---taught me that I could love a child who was not biologically mine. I was learning to be an adoptive mother long before I knew I wouldn't have biological children.

What an incredible journey it's been so far. Though it wasn't what I planned for my life, it sure isn't second best.


So, dear readers, what do you need to let go? What is one healthy thing you can do to better yourself as an adoptive or future adoptive parent? What words do you need to reject? What changes can you make? What is your life teaching your child in terms of adoption, infertility, loss, sadness?


  1. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm reading Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman and he shares the Dan Wasserman cartoon:

    It speaks to the changes that continue to be made around adoption and accepting that this is a perfectly acceptable and even desirable way to form a family.

  2. Thank you so much for this post! My husband and I always wanted to have a blended family both adoptive and biological. After 6 yrs of trying to have a child biologically we adopted domestically. It was NOT our 2nd choice we always wanted to adopt and we ready to start our family. Our daughter is 6 months old and we just found out that we are expecting a biological child in April. I don't ever want anyone to ever treat her as 2nd best. And I worry about her bond with the biological child as they get older since they will be so close in age (and they will look different).

  3. Ok. You are the voice inside of me...speaking. WHAT the heck?! I so can't write/process out loud eloquently what I think all the time but you sure are hitting the nail in MY head, in so many of your posts!!

    I need to let go, for now, the fact that there is a LACK of AA influences in my children's lives. I worry and worry and contemplate and worry and yet, the boys are young and we don't have many activities besides church and small group yet. The boys start preschool this year and I am hoping against hope to have some circles (like you wrote about on My Brown Baby) that I can get to know more closely.

    For now, we will talk about it and read about it..and in a few years, I seriously have plans to attend an AA church for a couple years to allow the boys the feeling of being in the majority! :)


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