Why acknowledging the hard parts of adoption is important
We were sitting in our living room when we made the decision to adopt. I was on the couch, my husband was in the chair and our dog was curled up on a beige rug near the fireplace. It was cozy and warm as the sun beamed in through snow-frosted windows in our living room. We had survived another Christmas without children, and we didn’t want to do it again.
After years of grieving our inability to have biological children, our hearts had shifted toward adoption. And on that cold winter day in February, we decided to do it.
We began our home study. We submitted fingerprints. We researched adoption agencies. We sorted through photos for our family profile. We solicited reference letters from friends and family members.
We decorated a nursery in yellow and gray. We prepared our hearts for bringing home a baby, and during our six month wait there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t imagine what that moment would be like.
During my 25-minute commute to the newsroom I worked at, I’d imagine what it would be like to get the phone call – you know, the one saying we’d been chosen as parents for a baby boy or girl. Would we be together when we learned the news? Would we be apart? Would we have a hunch or be taken by total surprise? Would we scream or cry or maybe react with a combination of all the emotions in between?
At the grocery store, I’d see parents juggling children and food and sippy cups, and I’d imagine what it’d be like to experience the chaos of parenthood in such every day moments. Would we be frazzled?
Would we be patient? Would we learn to embrace the craziness of parenthood, or would it all come naturally?
I’d see mothers snuggling their newborns in church and fathers cradling their babies at the local diner.
Everywhere we went — every family I saw — I couldn’t help but dream of the day I’d have a newborn placed into my arms. Would it be love at first sight? Would I cry tears of happiness? Would I be scared or excited or terrified?
During the six-month wait before our first daughter was placed into my arms inside the Texas hospital she was born at, there wasn’t a moment where I didn’t imagine how happy my husband and I would be as parents.
But what I didn’t think about was how hard it would be; how gut-wrenchingly painful it’d be for our happiness to come at the expense of someone else’s pain and sorrow.
What I didn’t think about was how unnatural it would be for a baby to be placed in the arms of people who are – by most accounts – complete strangers; and how odd it’d be to presume the role of parents to that tightly swaddled new baby we had just met.
What I didn’t consider was how complicated it would be; how excruciating it would be to watch my daughter’s first mother kiss her goodbye, place her gently into my arms and walk away.
What I didn’t anticipate was how sad I’d be that my daughter’s first family couldn’t share in her milestones; and how bittersweet it’d be for us to witness her growing and changing knowing they should be here, too.
What I didn’t imagine was how much I’d miss her birth family; and how much I’d appreciate their encouragement and love and wisdom over the years.
What I didn’t think about was how much I’d grieve the loss of my daughter’s biological family for her sake; and how much I’d crave for her to love her first family as much as our family when she grew to understand her story.
What I didn’t think about was how bittersweet adoption truly is.