There are people who want to be parents and who physically can not. It's hard. We were blessed with a biological daughter, and then infertility. I know the anguish families feel when all they want is a child and they can't physically have one. So they choose adoption.
Then there are the people who want to adopt to "save" a child or because "everyone is doing it". I've seen it. And their entire experience is different than the family who chose adoption to love a child.
I've seen joy, happiness, excitement, love etc from adoption stories. I've also seen heartache, frustration, exhaustion, anger etc from adoption stories.
Adoption is NOT easy. And if you chose to adopt for the wrong reasons, it will just add to the stress that is already there.
Imagine being pregnant. You have 9 months to love this child that you created. You plan the nursery, pick names, people have parties for you and are so excited for your new bundle of joy. Then you deliver the baby and you feel this instant bond. The first few days might be rough because of adjusting to having a newborn. But you deal with it. And people help you out by watching the baby so you can sleep, or by bringing meals etc. The baby grows and you quickly learn how to care for the baby.
Now, imagine the adoption process. The "pregnancy" is the MOUNDS of paperwork you have to fill out about yourself, your spouse, your family etc. Strangers want to know EVERYTHING about you. You have to get physicals done, get counseling, take classes, get fingerprinted etc. You might have a few friends who are excited for you and encourage you through the wait. But for the most part, the "paperchase" is not exciting like watching a belly grow. Most likely you connect with other mama's who are also adopting or who have adopted, who understand what you are going through. They are the ones who will realize you need a baby shower, you also will need meals etc.
Then it's time to bring home the child. This child most likely will not be a newborn (some will adopt a newborn but the majority of the families I've met have not). This child has no idea what is about to happen to him/her. He/she was happy where they were. That's all they knew. Then suddenly they lose everything and are taken away by strangers. And suddenly you are given a child who does not love you, or want to be with you. Every child is different. Bonding can be quick. Or can take a long time. We've had it both. Two of our children bonded quickly. Three not so quick. There were days that we asked ourselves "What did we just do???" And yes, we had thoughts of "This is not going to work".
Every adoption is different. Every child is different. Every parent is different. That is why we need support from family & friends. We don't need to be discouraged, or talked about or forgotten. There have been times when we have felt like that. We've had some low days when we feel like failures as parents. When we want to give up. When we wish we could turn back the clock and make different choices. But we can't. So we pray, and we vent to those we know who will not judge, and we move on.
If you know of someone who has adopted, I challenge you to reach out to them. Whether they adopted 10 years ago (or more) or just last week. Reach out to them.
If you know of someone who is in the process of adopting, reach out to them. Offer to go baby shopping with them, or to throw a baby shower for them, or set up meals for when they come home. Adopting families go through exhaustion just like families who give birth. Sometimes I think the adoptive families have more exhaustion because there usually isn't a lot of "breaks" during the day to recoup.
Remember, even if the adoptive family looks like they are doing GREAT, Most likely they are struggling with something. I'm guilty of putting on the fake smile when I'm in public when really I just want to crawl up in a corner and cry. People think we're experts because we've adopted 5 kids from China. We are not experts. Each adoption was different. China changed the way to adopt each time (added or took away a step that we were used to). And each child is different. Like I said earlier, two of our kids bonded quickly. One bonded in about 18 months and the last 2, well we're still bonding and they've been home for 19 months.
Adoption IS Awesome. But it's also HARD! Try to remember to be there for the families who choose adoption. Don't forget about them.
Here are some photos of our kids (then & now). Can you see the life in their eyes now? That is how awesome adoption is. A family gives a child hope, a chance, love.......
If you want more info on how to adopt, contact me. If you want info on how to help a family who is adopting, contact me.
Thanks for reading. Debbie