Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Adoption Truth: Grace and Sad

Terra Cooper is an advocate for adoption who is very active in using social media to promote a positive view of adoption. In an effort to educate others, Terra has created a hashtag campaign in which anyone impacted by adoption can share their experiences- whether that be through posting a picture on Instagram or writing a few words or paragraphs on Facebook or in an online forum- specifically related to one thought-provoking word such as "anticipation", "fear", or "trust", using the hashtag #MyAdoptionTruth.  Terra has compiled a list of over 70 different words to choose from as part of this campaign.

I've only shared my experiences with two of the words which seemed to strike a particular chord in me, but as someone who is naturally introspective and who prefers writing about my feelings rather than talking about them I've found that each word can make a great writing prompt and serves as a very effective tool in processing/analyzing/exploring any feelings related to adoption (or any serious topic for that matter). 

The other enlightening thing for me about sharing different perspectives is that as I've read the responses of others to a particular word I've been reminded that everybody's experiences are so vastly different.  Simply reflecting on one word can bring about so many varied responses.

Here's what I had to say about the words "Grace" and "Sad". 

What does Grace mean to you in adoption?

To me, the definition of grace is doing for others what they cannot do for themselves.  In light of this definition, it is truly through the grace of my children's birthmothers that I am able to be a mother myself.  That's HUGE!  I can never "repay" that grace but I can show my gratitude to my children's birthmothers and revere them and I can be ever mindful of what a gift my children are.

Lest anyone think by my response above that adoption is always bliss and conflict-free here is another response I shared when I reflected on the word "sad":

For clarification (or if you're new to this blog), all of my children are/were adopted and although their birthmothers relinquished their parental rights- each case was very different.  We adopted our daughter M. through an agency adoption after her birthmother chose us to be her parents and relinquished her parental rights just days after M. was born.  

However, we adopted our youngest two children, Jack and Jill, through foster care after they had been in our care for over a year and a half. Although Jack and Jill's first mother technically relinquished her rights, it was not because she necessarily chose us to be her parents.  Jack and Jill's mother relinquished her parental rights after two of her children were in state custody as our foster children for a year and a half and it became apparent that she would not be given any more chances and her parental rights would most likely be terminated through the process of a legal trial if she did not relinquish. 

Fortunately, during that year and a half of Jack and Jill being in our care as foster children we were able to develop a relationship with their first mother as we would interact with her at weekly supervised visits, team meetings, various appointments, and court hearings.  (Their birth father was initially involved in their case as well).  She gained our trust in caring for her children which {hopefully} made it easier for her to see her children being removed from her care, being raised by strangers, and eventually adopted. Guardianship or adoption by family members was not an option for Jack and Jill which is why we were able to adopt them.  They have been our only foster children to date where reunification, a kinship placement, or adoption by relatives was not a viable option.           
 What have been some sad moments for you in adoption?

It's sad to me that two of our children became a part of our family as a direct result of their birth family's addictions and other unsafe circumstances.  This sadness is compounded by the fact that any face-to-face contact with one of their birthparents is on hold for their safety.  

I know these two children are loved deeply by their first family and it makes me feel sad (and slightly guilty) that they joined our family at the expense of tremendous grief and loss by their first family. 

I may share some other adoption truths in future posts and would love to hear some #myadoptiontruth responses from others!