You can't read an adoption story without a then and now. The world sees an event where the adoption community knows evolution.
My journey is seventeen years long and counting. Seventeen years was a long time ago. Much has happened. Much. But what happened seventeen years ago has rippled through my life, even into this post that you are reading...
Seventeen years ago I chose life.
I was young and vulnerable, facing an unplanned pregnancy. There weren’t many options, and I was afraid. What would people think? What would others say? Once I made my mind up to make an adoption plan, I felt like I would live with this decision for the duration of the pregnancy and see it through. I would finish strong and then get back to my life.
I was wrong.
Life is a life changing business. My life would never be the same. I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know how long forever was. Forever is a mighty long time, and friends, it’s hard to plan for forever. I have changed. He has changed. Looking back, I wish I would have planned more contact with him from the beginning. I wish I had been as involved as his parents wanted me to be, but I wasn’t.
It wasn’t because I didn’t love him. Not at all. The reason I didn’t stay as connected as I wish I had is because I didn’t think I was worthy of being known. I thought I made this huge mistake by getting pregnant and that he wouldn’t want anything to do with me.
I was wrong.
Becoming an adoption professional and talking with countless adoptees and adoptive parents has encouraged me to be available to and for him. They have taught me that loving him well is being known by him, if and when he is ready. I have learned that I am worth knowing, and that is an amazing and humbling and beautiful thing.
Back then, way back then, I knew so little about adoption. I knew very little about parenting or babies or the world, really. What I knew was this: he was a person, my person, and I had to protect him and give him the best life possible. That was enough then.
Now, I wish I had known that my life would explode with love in and through this experience. I wish I had known that it would help me relate to my husband and teach my children that I am not perfect and they don’t have to be either. When I chose life for my son, I chose life for me, and I didn’t expect that. One thing I wish I had known then, that I now know, is that it is okay to thrive in the midst of this journey.
People said the grief would be impossible. I was led to believe that I would never recover. I was told I was giving away my blessing. I feared that I would never be loved again.
I was wrong.
The truth is, my adoption journey is both/and. There are sharp moments of intense pain and grief. There is loss and disconnection. But, there is also joy and peace of mind and connection. I have gained family, not given a child away. I can never look at my adoption and only give half of the story. What I know now is the truth—loving my son well means both/and.
I also wish I had known that adoptive parents aren’t perfect; they’re just people. When I was looking at profile books I was searching for that perfect couple, who would never disappoint my child. The truth is that parents, no matter what kind, disappoint their children, even if in small ways. My son didn’t need perfect parents, he needed parents who could be present. He needed a mom and a dad, who could spend time with him, provide for him, and teach him in ways I could not. Thankfully, I found them. They have loved my son, our son, well. They have shared. They have become my family too.
All of these things are evidence of the evolution of my view of adoption, faith and relationships inside my adoption story. I have sojourned with joy, anger, thankfulness, anxiety, confidence, and confusion, and I have come to settle down with the idea that love has room for all of my big feelings. I get to continue in love for the child I gave in love. Love is a place I can find rest.
Seventeen years ago I started this thing thinking I had to feel positive about my experience all the time and that there was no room for doubt or disappointment or anything negative. I thought I had to go make something of myself and ‘get better’ in order to prove something to someone.
I’m glad I was wrong.
Now I know that it is foolish to think I won’t have any negative feelings about experiencing unplanned pregnancy and my adoption story. There are negative parts to the story, and that is part of it. There are also blinding bright spots too.
Every good story has light and dark. Every story worth telling takes twists and turns, and friends, my story is worth telling. I know that now.