Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adoption + Brokenness

Adoptive parents are often perplexed when our parenting journey doesn't go well, even perfectly.   (Especially since we are expected, by society, to be GREAT parents since we waited for SO LONG to take on the role as mom or dad).   We are, as we argue, a REAL family, and REAL families should have REAL joys and triumphs just like any other family, right?  But we forget, we're also going to have some unique challenges because of adoption.    It's the reality of our situations.

A birth parent once wrote on an online forum that adoption stems from something gone awry.   Huh?   But isn't adoption (newbie adoptive parent thinks) beautiful, and joyful, and tender, and blissful?    Isn't the birth parent giving the child the "gift of life" and the gift of having a wonderful, loving forever family?

All adoptions stem from brokenness.  Somewhere along the way, something went wrong, resulting in adoption being considered and decided upon.    This is a heavy burden that those of us who have adopted, by those who were adopted, and by those who placed children for adoption, carry with us, whether we know it or not.

So because adoption is rooted in brokenness, there is no way that this brokenness doesn't find it's way up the stem and into the flower----sometimes in waves, sometimes in seasons, sometimes gently, sometimes heavily.    No matter what, it's inevitable.

Adoptive parents are quick to defend adoption because without it, we wouldn't be parents.   But defensiveness doesn't embrace possibility and without possibility, we do not welcome change, change of path, change of perspective, change of heart.

The truth is this:  it is what it is.    No amount of love, of commitment, of laughter, of education----none of these things, can fix the roots.

This isn't to say that all adoptees are flawed.  This IS to say that adoption, at its root, begins with something or someone being broken. 

Isiah 61:3 talks about how God can give "beauty for ashes."      Brokenness can be beautiful in bittersweet, strange, and unpredictable ways.    Many of us who have adotped feel feel this conflicting and ever-present sense that adoption, even the most positive and "ideal" adoption situations, begins with brokenness.  

Parents, it's ok to say that adoption isn't perfect.   It's ok to admit that our families were created because somewhere, there was brokenness present.  It's ok to share that we are sad, hurt, confused, upset, or anything else because the brokenness exists.    It's ok to talk about it.

Today, I want to challenge you to be honest about adoption----be it in your thoughts or prayers, with your partner, with your kids, with someone who asks about adoption, with a family member, with a fellow adoptive parent.     

By getting real, you will become a better person, partner, and parent.    


  1. Thanks for bringing this out into the open. Too many families ignore this fact and "pretend" it doesn't exist. I have not had to address this too often yet because my daughter is still quite young but the older she gets the more often I think about it.

  2. Amen, sister. I just wrote a post along a similar line because when Adoptive Families posted a question on FB about the "meant to be" idea of adoption, many adoptive parents responded in ways that fit exactly this idea you present that adoption is all rainbows and butterflies. I am watching my six year old begin to experience the real pain that realizing what adoption means can bring.

  3. This is something I've had problems with in regards to our immediate families. I think it is a hard concept to understand for those who aren't adoptive parents. For so many of us the journey to adoption begins with a loss - the loss of our fertility and innocence that becoming a parent will be easy. You work through that loss then you get confronted with the fact that someone else will loose their child so you can be a parent. I tried explaining that to a family member at the start of our journey. I know they meant well, but they acted like I shouldn't let it bother me. No, I'm not going to let it throw me into a deep dark depression, but it is something I carry around with me all the time. There isn't a day that goes by our daughters birthmom isn't with me (in my mind and heart). It is so hard for others to understand that concept. The only way I can really deal with it is to remind my self that it is God's way of taking a not so great situation and turning into something good.

  4. This is a hard concept for those who haven't adopted. When I try to have discussions about it with my non-adoptive-parent friends, they just don't get it. They think everything should be wonderful now that I've "saved" these kids from their hard past. That's why the online world is so important to many of us.

  5. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm an adoptive parent to a now 18-month old and his birthmother is always on my mind. I've been reading a lot of anti-adoption articles that uncover the pain and loss and grief that birthmothers suffer and it just breaks my heart. I almost can't process it all because there's nothing I can do to MAKE it all rainbows and butterflies, like I wish it could be. I hope I'll know how to talk to him about his adoption when he's older... I hope I'll know the right words to say.


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