Dear Adoptive Mama,
Hello, Sweet Woman. I wanted to take a moment and talk to you, one on one. I needed to reach out to you because, well, I’ve been in your shoes. I, too, have a heart that breaks for every single child in need of a family – the abused, the neglected, the mentally ill, the physically disabled, the ones in the foster system, the drug addicted, the inconvenient, the unwanted.
And yes, my heart breaks the same for the ones with strong birth Mamas… ones that say, “I need to do this for my child – she deserves more.” God bless those Mamas. They do what is courageous and what requires more strength than anyone could ever possibly imagine.
I, too, have thought that by taking in those precious children, I would find my life’s happiness. I thought that I would find the contentment that was missing when I was told I wouldn’t have children of my own. I believed that, by taking in another woman’s child, my life’s purpose would be complete and I would finally find happiness.
And yet, My Friend, adoption did not make me happy. You see, I fell into the same rose-colored worldview that many other Mamas have fallen prey to. That vision of rescuing a child and loving them into wholeness – the idea that paperwork, finances, and legalities would “work themselves out in the end”. I assumed that I was capable of handling anything that God gave me. I would address each challenge with a smile, and my children would rise up and call me blessed.
Perhaps I was delusional. Probably naïve. Definitely unprepared.
No, adoption did not make me happy. In fact, because of my faulty view of adoption, I found myself crying most of the time. Why was no one calling me blessed? Where were my tears of happiness? Where were my beautiful memories to be made? Where was my perfect ending? Probably in the same place as my missing jewelry and shattered belongings.
You see, I had anticipated temporary obstacles when I should’ve been preparing for mountains that may or may not ever move from their place. Had I gone in with seasoned eyes, I may have shed fewer tears. But then again, who can say? All I know is that adoption isn’t capable of filling ones’ need for fulfilment. How can it when these are the words that you may hear on a regular basis:
“You’re not my real Mom!”
“I wish I could live anywhere else but here!”
“You hate me! Why did you even take me from my real family?”
“So, you bought me??”
“Are you going to give me back?”
“Why didn’t my birth family love me?”
“If you could’ve had kids, you never would’ve wanted me… I’m your second choice.”
Trust me when I tell you that adoption will not fix your sad heart, nor will it give your life purpose. After all, if you are looking for a child to do any of those things, it’s safe to say that you’re looking in the wrong place. I know this, because once again, I was in your shoes.
Between the rages and the aggression, the destruction and the massive break downs, the acting out and the suspensions – between all these things are also caseworker visits, court hearings, doctor appointments, therapy sessions, behavior management courses, and one million trips to the pharmacy each month. Now, is this the case for every adoption? Definitely not! (So take a big breath and keep reading.) However, being prepared for mountains is how you will keep your sanity. It will be your survival guide when you find yourself locked in your closet, weeping into a bowl (pint) of Ben and Jerry’s.
And I can assure you, whether you have the smoothest adoption or you find you’ve invited Damien Jr. into your home, there will be moments when you ask yourself, “Did I do the right thing?”
And Mama, always remember that you are not alone when you ask that. No parent ever is. We all start out with a dream and end up smack dab in the midst of reality, and it’s usually not as beautiful as we’d hoped. However, even if you’re being lied to, spit at, or cursed for the twentieth time that hour, you can face your mountain of the day with joy. Tears, yes. But joy, still.
Because the only thing that will give you joy – make you feel complete – is knowing that you’re giving your all, every single day, for a child that needs unconditional love. Whether or not that child ever thanks you, whether she ever recognizes the sacrifices you’ve made, whether he ever apologizes for how he’s made you cry… by the grace of God, you have risen each day and carried on. THAT is what will make you happy, Mama.
Sincerely and with Much Love,
Striving for Sanity
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