Often, the journey to adoption is described as a roller coaster. Certainly, it is an experience that may involve many intense and conflicting emotions, sometimes over a very long period of time. A variety of promises are made along the way. These promises may be verbal agreements, or part of legally binding documents, or both. And sometimes adoption promises made with the best of intentions become difficult to keep after finalization. Children grow, situations change, life happens. And still, I argue, it is crucial that you do your absolute best to keep all of the promises that you make along your journey to adoption. Here are three reasons why:
1 – Your integrity
Promises are made and broken easily in many circles. Often children who have been adopted have lived through many years of promises made and broken. They may be understandably slow to trust. If you are parenting one (or more) of these children, integrity is paramount. If you promise, you must deliver. Otherwise you are just like “all the rest” of the adults who made and broke promises in their lives. Forever is the ultimate promise. When you tell a child that your family is forever, your actions must show impeccable integrity or you are setting yourself up for trust and attachment issues.
2 – Your child’s birth family
Every adoption is different. Your relationship with your child’s birth family may be friendly, ambivalent, unpleasant, or nonexistent. These relationships can be complicated and may cause emotions to run high. Still, I believe it is important to do everything you can to honor your child’s birth family. You may not agree with all the choices they have made, and you can speak honestly with your child about this while still speaking respectfully. One way that you can honor your child’s birth family is by keeping the promises that you made along your adoption journey. No matter the state of your relationship with them, your child’s birth family is part of your child’s story. And that story matters.
3 – Your child
Perhaps this should be reason number one, but I like to save the best for last! Why should you keep your adoption promises? Because your kid deserves it. Case closed. These are promises that you made at some point because you believed them to be in your child’s best interest. If things have changed and your child’s best interest is not being served, open that conversation through the appropriate channels. If it’s just inconvenient or expensive or time-consuming or hard for you, take a minute to look into your child’s eyes (or if you prefer, let yourself feel all warm and fuzzy as you watch them sleep). Then smile and carry on. Your child deserves it.
Has it been difficult for you to keep the promises that you made along your adoption journey? What has helped you to keep going?