As we exit October and enter November we also leave behind Down syndrome Awareness Month and enter into National Adoption Month. If you have been following my blog long, you know what adoption means to us and our family. You know that it has brought us more joy than imaginable and you also know that has been the greatest gift we have ever received. But something you may not know is that it also brings grief.
First and foremost it brings grief to the strong women/couples that choose to voluntarily place their child(ren) for adoption to give them more. Placing a child for adoption is a choice, but just because it's a choice does not mean that it doesn't come with pain. Open adoption can alleviate some of that pain by allowing birth parents to be part of their child's life through pictures and visits, allowing them to watch their child grow and thrive and to see that their child is indeed loved and feels loved. I know Asher and Lucas' Mama Kate hurts from time to time all while being at peace with her decision. It's complicated and beautiful and painful.
Adoptive parents grieve. I'm not talking about the grief that we face of the dream we originally had of growing our family through the process of pregnancy and biology and looking into a child's face to figure out who they look like, even though that grief is very real. Whenever you have to let one dream die to allow another to begin it brings grief. But the grief that I am referencing here is the grief we feel for both our child's birthparents and our children themselves. We grieve for their birthparents knowing that we have the opportunity to be mommy and daddy and raise the child that they love just as much as we do. We grieve for the process that they have gone through, the pain of coming to the decision to place, the signing of the papers, going home without their child, and then not being with their child each and every day, watching them grow. We grieve for our children and the complex emotions they will face as they grow. As they begin to process their story, when they struggle with the why's, when they miss their birthparents and when people unknowingly make insensitive comments. For those that have been adopted out of foster care or from an orphanage setting, we also grieve for their past. What they experienced at such a young age, the years they spent not having a family of their own, and the years that we as their parents missed out on.
Lastly, children who have been adopted grieve. They grieve the loss of their first families. Some get to know their first families through open adoption, other's don't have any information on their first families and feel that hole in their story. Regardless of the reasons they were placed for adoption, these children grieve because adoption comes with loss. This is something we will learn more about as our children grow and get older.
Adoption is beautiful and messy, it comes with joy and it comes with grief. I focus mostly on the joy, but it's important to recognize that there is another side.