Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adoption: A Path Paved With Good Intentions

As part of my morning ritual, instead of drinking a cup of coffee, I sit down to catch up with my favorite bloggin' Moms.  This morning I headed over to Tonggu Momma's, she's had A LOT to say recently about adoption and I can't help but silently cheer on my end of the computer.  If you're interested, head on over here to read how she feels about God and adoption-the comments alone will keep you busy for hours.

The longer I have been an adoptive mom, the more convicted I feel about adoption itself, both positively and negatively.  Most of the negative stems from the intentions of adoptive parents themselves. I have met too many that just want a child.  Period.  It doesn't matter how it happens, the credibility of their agency or the manner in which their children were relinquished.  The ends justifies the means and to them they rescued a child that needed to be saved so where's the rub?

I am a big on research.  So not only am I uber prepared for family vacations, I am a self-taught hypochondriac doctor and a Google maven.  For Prim's third birthday we went to Disneyland and I had printouts and maps out the wazoo for our big trip. I had scoured the 'net for all things Disney and tackled our three days at the park with military precision.  I loved the fact that all of my tedious preparation had saved us time and effort.

When we started the adoption process I read and read and read.  Opening myself up to criticism I will admit that international adoption was more alluring to us for two reasons. One, my husband is from Vietnam.  We thought it would be amazing to give a child a home where they would be surrounded by family that not only looked like them but shared the same history, language and place of birth.  We thought the transition would be less traumatic if H was able to communicate with our child in their native language.  Second-and here's where I may get hate mail-we did not want the stress of knowing that our child could be taken away by the biological parent or the bio mom could change her mind at the last minute.  We knew families that it had happened to and after years of infertility I could not handle the thought of this kind of loss.  We knew that international adoption provided-in our minds-the safety net of anonymity. 

As it turned out God had different plans for us and Prim was a waiting child from Thailand.  After our referral was official, it became apparent that we would no longer be bringing home an infant but a toddler and I felt a small part of my heart break.  Not only was our wait going to be almost a year until we traveled to get her, but she was not going to be the baby that I had imagined in my mind.  I prayed fervently each day that God would prepare her heart to accept us as her parents and to give us the wisdom to help her transition into our family.

I had researched attachment, broken attachments, re attachments, insecure attachments.  Some books I read two and three times, highlighting, turning down pages of significance to refer back to later.  I was, in my mind, absolutely prepared to receive my daughter and all of her baggage with complete confidence.

I couldn't have prepared myself for the depth of her grief. No book can put into words the raw emotion that Prim experienced.  The unadulterated fear, the crying, begging at our hotel room door to be let out.  We were not her parents and she was terrified.  I felt as if we had torn her from a happy, adjusted family and for the first time felt selfish and ashamed. Was this okay?  I remember crying while she slept on top of me, exhausted from grief, asking H if we were doing the right thing for this little girl. 

This July will be three years since Prim has been home.  Now, as a mother parenting a child who has experienced trauma, I see my intentions for adoption differently.   Knowing that Prim may never meet her biological mother makes me incredibly sad.  As she grows, she may need that communication as another part of her healing and I don't know if that will ever happen.  I think about her biological mom and wish we could send her pictures.  I wish I could tell her that the baby she had to leave is now a beautiful little girl.  I wish I could tell her that she is not forgotten and that I see her in the face of our daughter. 

You see, I went into adoption with the best of intentions.  We wanted more children, knew God had put that on our hearts and found a way through adoption to build our family.   I think now what I realize is that intentions are just that. Intentions.  It's what you do after the fact that makes the difference. Do you pretend away the broken heart of your child and put on a perfect smile, or do you do the hard work and become the parent that your child needs, not expecting him or her to become the kid you wanted?

If you ask me today if we would adopt again I would say yes! Will we? I don't know.  God will have to be in the driver's seat of that decision. Would I now consider domestic adoption? Yeah. I would.  My heart is not any different but maybe my intentions are.  I can only pray that whatever our decision, through infertility to adoption, we follow God and His plan for us.


a Tonggu Momma said...

This was a beautifully raw post. I know that I wasn't prepared either... I don't know that one can prepare. But what we can do is empty our cups. That's my husband's phrase for remaining teachable and humble. Because that? Goes a long way.

April said...

Thanks. The humble comes in truck loads especially when I realize how God thought I was capable of parenting my little girl. My mustard seed is warped by His mountain...

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