Reactions to Adoption

When you find out you have three kids on the way, you want to shout it from the rooftops.

Partly because you’re excited. Mostly because you feel so overwhelmed and crazy that screaming seems like an appropriate release.

We (mostly) managed to hold the news in for several weeks (if you don’t count the people we met in California…they all know). When the time finally came to tell our family and loved ones, we had a blast thinking of different ways to share the news…most involving our son acting like a stripper, peeling off layers of clothes to morph from his Big Brother shirt to his Little Brother shirt. It was fun! And the reactions were pretty predictable. Confusion at first, then surprise. Followed by a congratulations, sometimes three. Sometimes hugs, occasionally tears. Everyone was happy for us, and we felt so lucky to have people share in our joy.

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Then we told our friends from Africa. The mother and her two girls have been in the States for less than a year. They’re from the same exact region our future children are from; they speak the same exact (remote) language. They’re going to be a tremendous TREMENDOUS resource for us over the next couple years. But guess what? They didn’t congratulate us, didn’t jump up to hug us. Instead, as we shared about our adoption and told them a little about these kids, their eyes filled with tears. This mother was imagining herself put in that horrible situation, picturing desperation forcing her to give up her own kids. It’s a fate that could have so easily been hers.

Obviously I’m a believer in adoption. I think it’s a great, wonderful, fantastic way to take an ugly situation and redeem it.

But adoption IS an ugly situation.  Many people tell us that these kids are “so lucky”.  I get what they are trying to say- it’s lucky that these kids are going to have opportunities they don’t currently have, opportunities that most kids from their neighborhoods  will never have.  But these kids are NOT lucky.  It’s not lucky to be born into a country so poor that your neighbors are literally dying from hunger.  It’s not lucky for a 4-year-old to be so familiar with death and disease.  It’s not lucky for an 8-year-old to wonder why his mommy can no longer care for him.  These kids have been through a lot.  Way more than any human being, let alone any child, should ever have to go through.  So please, don’t tell us that these kids are lucky.

And as we travel down the adoption road full of unknown twists and turns, and as we drag you along with us via girls nights or poker nights or my blog, please understand that while welcoming new life to a family is always exciting, it is not always easy or even enjoyable.  We expect next year to include lots of  laughs and hugs and funny moments, but we also expect it to be filled with outbursts and tears and confusion and questions and anger.  We want you to be happy and excited for us- We NEED you to be happy and excited for us. But we also need you to understand that we might not always feel happy and excited, and the kids we’re bringing halfway across the world will almost certainly not feel happy and excited.  And that’s okay.  They’re going through a lot and the best we can do is to love them, to let them know that they are safe and secure and that we’re not going anywhere.  That’s going to take some time, but we’ve got all the time in the world.

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Filed under Referral, Refugees, Waiting Children

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