Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Adoption - Blessing or Curse -- My Thoughts

I was reading fellow Krygz AP, Janiece's blog tonight. She wrote a post about something she had read on this blog. Becing a sucker for a link, I clicked over and read it -- then I re-read it. I was going to leave my comments on Janiece's blog, but decided I was intrigued enough (and sleep deprived enough to think myself capable enough) to make a post about my thoughts on it.

Take a moment to click over now and read the blog post from this adoptive mom and then come back.

First off, I LOVE the T-shirt her son is wearing, "My mom is blogging my life." Ha -- I need two of those, huh?

Now, on to more serious matters. I am adopted. I was adopted when I was 21 months old. I was reunited with my birthfamily about five years ago. I had never had a desire to search for them until I had my own son and I wanted to know if he looked like me. It was a crazy reason to search, but it was the thing that started it all. My adoptive (aka "real" as far as I'm concerned) family were supportive of my endeavors to find them, although worried about what I might find.

It took almost three years to go through a process whereby Tennessee's adoption records were opened. During that time, I attended Supreme Court hearings discussing the potential of opening the records, voicing my support, searched on my own, found my birthmom independently of the "system" but did not make contact. When the records were opened the first time, only a few people got theirs before a lawsuit closed them again. Finally, when they opened the last time, I was pretty far down on the list but did eventually get my records, paid the fees for the search and made contact with my brother initially, then with my two other brothers and sister and finally with my birthmom.

The story surrounding all this is just background for the rest of my reasoning in this post.

J-momma wrote, "My son lost his birthfamily. He lost his culture, his race, his DNA, his genetic connection to anybody, his history, his lineage, any birth siblings, and more than I can ever know. " This was true in my case, although I did not lose my race as mine is not a transracial adoption. One of the things I struggled with when I found my birthfamily was the overwhelming sense of loss of the connections I should have had with my siblings -- to the life they had without me, to the memories we didn't get to make and the times we didn't get to share. However, the environment that they were raised in was not one that would have been beneficial to me. My life would have not been anything like the life I had because I was adopted. I look at Ellie's country and the extreme poverty and I hurt for those people and their needs. However, Ellie was not given up for adoption due to poverty. Neither was I. Both of our birthmoms made choices to relinquish their rights due to what I consider personal choice and the fact that their pregnancies were not convenient at the time. Yes, I spent years telling doctors that I didn't know my medical history due to being adopted. Was that a problem? No, but each time I said it, there was a little frustration there. Now, through my reunion, I have a connection to my sister to get all the medical information on my family that I need.

J-momma also wrote: "It wouldn't even be "lucky" for him to have stayed with his birthfamily. It would be normal. That's what he's entitled to, isn't it?" Yes, most children do stay with their birthfamilies. However, sometimes, just sometimes, it is through the grace of God and of a bigger plan that children do not stay with their birthfamilies. I firmly believe that God has a plan for each of our lives and some of us are allowed opportunities to leave what "should be" in society for a place that allows growth and development far beyond what our birth environment would allow. Had I not been adopted, I would not be married to the person I am married to, serving in the church I serve in, impacting the lives in the community that I do, have the children I do and most certainly would not have adopted a child from another country. Joseph, in the Bible, would most certainly not have been able to save his family from starving in the famine had God not predestined his life to be lived out in a place separate from his birthfamily. "What you meant for bad, God has used for good."

J-momma followed by writing, "They don't talk like his people or eat like his people or live like his people, for the most part. Yes, obviously we are all human beings, and Americans, and blah blah blah, but come on, everyone would admit there are differences in the way people of different races live. And family is supposed to be comfort and acceptance and the one place in this world where you can be yourself. What if you don't know who yourself is? And what if your family doesn't feel like your real home, or you're not entirely comfortable there? Then what do you have? Nothing. You're lost. And that's the worst place to be. Lost. " I most certainly cannot replicate what Ellie's life would have been in Kyrgyzstan. Nor, in all honesty, would I want to because, as far as I'm concerned, she is American with Krygyz ethnicity and origins -- just like all the immigrants who come to America, she will integrate to our way of life. We will continue to tell her the stories of her country's history, to teach her of their holidays and customs, to tell her of her beginnings and will support her desire to search for her family if that is her desire. We will provide her with opportunities to formulate friendships with children who are Asian as well. However, her life now is that of an Asian-American girl who was adopted from Kyrgyzstan. I am of the opinion that the process of learning who one is is an individual journey that each of us must make and should not have anything to do with what our family's ethnicity is. However, I am not naive enough to believe that my daughter's Asian ethnicity will not have an effect on her life. Part of my job as her mother is to develop in her a sense of self-worth that has to do with who she is in God's plan, how much He values her and her life and to develop her confidence in who she is, outside of what her skin color is, who her parents are or, to be honest, the fact that she was given up by her birth family. I know how that feels. I know the heartache of wondering why and what was wrong with you that your own birthmom wouldn't love you. It took me years to come to the place of understanding that it had absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with a decision that my birthmom made. I hope I can pass along that knowledge to Ellie. I hope I can help her not feel lost.

There were many points that J-momma made that were so very thought provoking and I think she is courageous to address this subject so honestly. I admire the way she tackles her inner struggles with this process in writing in an effort to come up with a way to deal with those feelings. In a perfect world, adoption would not be necessary and those who wanted children would have them and those who didn't want children (or need them, in all honesty) would not. However, in our sin filled world, that is not an option, unfortunately. Adoption is not perfect, by any means. The process is hard, usually expensive and emotionally taxing for all involved -- including the children. It affects our lives not just during the process or at the time of adoption, but the rest of our lives. We, as a family, are not the same people as a result of our adoption.

I do consider Ellie's adoption a blessing in our family. Every morning when I wake up and go in her room and am greeted with her wide happy smile, I am blessed anew. I am thankful her mother did not choose to abort her. I am thankful that in a country where prenatal care is little, where her mother lived in a mountainous farming area with little in the way of medical care and where she was born prematurely that she lived. I am thankful that God matched us up to be her family and for her to be our daughter. Do I believe we are lucky? No, I believe we are blessed. I believe that before time God ordained her to be a part of our family just like I was chosen to be part of my family.


janiece said...

AS I said, it's thought provoking and I'm gld she brought it up. I can't believe how much comment I've had. Hummm, more thoughts are occurring to me. Maybe the sleep deprivation is hitting me too.
I agree--an imperfect world and we just try to make the best of it.

J-momma said...

hi. thanks for linking my post. i agree with most of what you said in response. the only additional comment i have to add is that i think it's a bit different for a child adopted from foster care. my son's culture isn't in some far off place or country. he looks puerto rican and we live in an area where there are a lot of puerto rican people. my worry is that his classmates and peers are going to expect my son to speak spanish like they do and understand the culture in a deeper way than we can pretend to. sure, i can cook rice and beans and celebrate three kings day with our family, but i can't do it like generations of people from puerto rico can. the same is true for african american children adopted by white parents. i almost think it's easier to celebrate a culture from an exotic place, the opportunities to educate people must be interesting and fun, especially since most people don't know about kryzastan (i can't even spell it), but for me to celebrate the african-american (not african) part of my son, i just feel like a fake. it's awkward because it's close to home and because of our country's history as well. i could be wrong about this. i don't know the challenges in raising kids from another country. just my thoughts.

smileysk8 said...

great post! And your children are beautiful. Love the Christmas layout.

Jackie S said...

Wow. Certainly many 'real' thoughts from both you and J-momma. I may link to both of your posts as I ponder and process my own thougths.

Julie W said...

Great post! Very well written! Very thought provoking as well.

Lori said...

I too have been inspired to post...

janiece said...

Just tagged you!