I want to share a real life glimpse into the world of adoption with you for just a second. Something as seemingly innocent and sweet as a Disney movie can have much larger implications for the family impacted by adoption. As my son and I were watching Tangled for the 101th time this morning, he asks me:
“Mom, who’s she?” (in reference to mother Gothel)
Me, choosing my words very carefully, replied: “She’s the lady who stole baby Rapunzel from her birthparents and acted as Rapunzel’s mother growing up”
Because I believe it is central to my child’s healthy development to talk to him openly about his adoption and for him to be able to make the distinction between what Mother Gothel unlawfully did in this situation and what birth parents do when an adoption plan is made, I explained to him that mine and his birth mothers chose to not parent us because they were not able to take care of us and that no one “stole” us from our birthparents.
My son’s immediate response was: “WERE WE BAD?”
“No son. We were not bad.”
Fellow friends, this is the inside mind of a 4 year old adoptee. Raw and unfiltered. This is the side of adoption that doesn’t get talked about. Doesn’t get published. Doesn’t get glamorized. Adoptive parents; Families affected by adoption in any shape, form or capacity- this is my call to you… Please, Please, Please, don’t pretend that your child’s adoption story is all roses and rainbows, and that your existence in their lives somehow negates a previous core loss. Their story matters to them, and they need to hear it throughout their lives. It is central to their identity and who they are. Yes it is hard for them to process, and yes you have to watch them endure sad and painful emotions. But you spare them no pain by ignoring this inevitable part about them throughout their childhood and then leaving them to grapple with it as teenagers and adults on their own. If you cannot handle these realities, then you are not prepared for the selfless sacrifices adoption requires on your part for your child. This made the difference for me in my life and I plan to pass it on.
I think more and more adoptive parents are listening to the insights of people who were adopted and getting better at things like this. Thank you so much for sharing your personal insights into helping your child an accurate and meaningful adoption narrative that doesn't discount their losses.