Saturday, January 5, 2008

There's that horrible knot in my stomach again...

It' s after 3 in the morning here. What better thing to do than blog? Why am I up blogging at 3 a.m.? Because I woke up in the middle of the night, upset, thinking about what I read last night on Anne's blog. See her post titled "Sick and Wrong." I'm not going to take the time or the extra space to recap what she said. My posts are already way too long and wordy as it is. You'll just have to click over there and read it, or this post won't make complete sense. I fell asleep thinking about it, and woke up thinking about it. I think I'm done sleeping. Yeah! (BTW-at 3 a.m., we agree to forgive the typos, right?)

I wasn't finished feeling sad and outraged over that whole thing with the Dutch diplomats (If you were out of the country or something and don't know what I'm talking about, I first read about it here on Mrs. Broccoli Guy's blog), and now this; something new to lose sleep over.

If you've read my blog in the past, then you already know I have an enormous pet peeve regarding the use of the word "own" in connection with adopted children. It infuriates me. For a refresher you can click here to see one of my previous posts on this subject.

I've pointed out before that the biggest problem in talking about this type of thing here is that I am either preaching to the choir, and chewing out PAPs who already agree with my feelings and can wholeheartedly love and accept a child as "their own," or I am talking to friends or family members who have not and will not be adopting, and don't fully understand what I'm ranting about. Bummer. I have no real way of reaching my target, as this is the only platform I have. Regardless, I have to try anyway. There's always the one in a million chance that the right person will see it. So here we go...

Most parents enter into the adoption process ignorant about a few things. I know we sure did. But thankfully, we all learn as we go, and by the time a child joins our family, we have hopefully become more educated, enlightened, and ready to be good parents. However, some of us are self-centered, spoiled brats who are still too childish ourselves to even consider having a child, through any means. It's to the second group I'd like to direct the following comments. If you're in the second group, chances are you don't realize it because self-centered, spoiled brats are rarely aware they are self-centered and spoiled, so read this anyway and see if any of it sticks.

I'll start with a no-brainer: If you are not prepared to lay aside your own selfishness, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. The truth is, we are all self-focused to some extent before children come into our lives. But the heart of a true parent, is one that wants to lay self aside in order to focus on a child. Once that kid is in your house, your life is no longer about you. Agreed? I believe adoption parenting requires an extra measure of maturity. Truthfully, your child may not like you after the adoption is final. There is no complaint department or return desk. You're stuck, friend. So you better make darn sure you're ready to stick. This little person whom you've loved within your heart and mind for months or even years of waiting, does not love you back right away. Your ego will get bruised. Your feelings will be hurt. It's not pleasant to wait so long for this child to arrive only to feel their body stiffen and pull away when you want a hug. It's disappointing. But it's not about you. You cannot focus on your *self.* To love a child, is to make a decision to be committed to that kid from now on. That's what love is. It's not the warm fuzzies. It's the day in, day out choice to remain committed, whether or not you're getting anything out of it.

If you are interested in adoption, but would like to have YOUR OWN kids first, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. Is that harsh? Yes. But as long as your heart is still making a distinction between "blood relatives" and those who are not, and you are thinking about genetics and DNA, you will not be able to provide the adopted child with what every child needs: to feel completely, totally, 100% LOVED and ACCEPTED for who they are. Do not fool yourself into thinking the child will never know you feel this way. OH, YES THEY WILL. YES. THEY. WILL. *Of course some adoptive parents have turned to adoption only after struggling to have biological children. Had they been able to have a child "the old-fashioned way," they may never have adopted at all. There's no shame in that. I'm not talking about the chronological order of events, here- I'm talking about a mindset and an attitude of the heart. I'm referring specifically to people who view adoption as a "lesser" method of creating a family. My heart aches for parents who have had to struggle with the heartbreaking disappointments of infertility or pregnancy and child loss. I would never want my comments to be misinterpreted as being directed at you.

Once and for all, an adopted child IS YOUR OWN child. If you can't or won't look at adoption that way, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child.

If you think of yourself as some benevolent, charitable do-gooder who loves the feeling you get from dropping change into the Salvation Army bucket, and you're willing to provide a home for some poor orphan because you are so incredibly awesome, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. Yes, the Bible says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (Janes 1:27)," and I completely believe and agree with that, but it also says, in Romans 12:3, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." In other words, Get off your high horse, if I may paraphrase God Almightly. Maybe you could go pick out a puppy from the humane society. Do not try to do your good deed by adopting a kid. Kids do not need a noble benefactor. They need parents who are able and willing to love them unconditionally for the unique and precious treasures they are.
If you are not prepared to recognize, accept, and embrace your child's "baggage," YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. The child's birth country, culture, race, pre-adoption circumstances, and yes- BIRTH PARENTS, are all a part of who that child is and will always be. If you hope or plan to strip the child of those things, you are being selfish. I'm sorry if that sounds mean, but I think any parent who wants to forget the child's beginnings and treat him or her as if their lives began on the day of adoption is being mean. And heartless. And incredibly selfish. SELFISH. If it seems like too much of a hassle to incorporate your child's birth culture into your life and family's routine, then maybe adoption is not for you. If you feel too threatened or intimidated (or dare I say "jealous?") by the birth parents, maybe adoption isn't for you. Every human being has a right to know as much as possible about where they came from. We all have an innate need to feel connected to something and someone. Don't strip your child of that. We may never be able to provide our kids with all the details of their lives before meeting us, but we owe it to them to tell them what we do know, and to treat that information with respect. Your child's birth parents ARE NOT your competitors. They are forever a part of who your child is. You don't have to like them, understand them, or agree with what they've done. You do have to realize that they were chosen by God to create your child, and it is because of them that you have been or will be blessed with him or her. In many, many cases, one mother's heart will be forever broken, so that another's can stop breaking. For that reason alone, they deserve your respect, regardless of what you think of their choices and circumstances. By honoring your child's past, you honor your child. Get it?

Along with the above, if you believe that adopting a young baby means avoiding all those pesky attachment and bonding issues that only come with older children, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. At least not until you've educated yourself on the subject. Adopting a newborn is no guarantee that your child won't suffer the affects of grief and/or attachment disorders. Do you understand that? If you hear nothing else I say, please hear that. And in case you forgot or didn't know, I am speaking as an adoptee. I hate to plunk the adoptee card down on the table too often, but I do know what I'm talking about in this. Your child has experienced a loss, no matter how young they were at the time it occurred. Yes, adoption is a wonderful way to build a family. But in order for your family to be born, another family was severed; Your child's first family. Your child has lost something. There can and quite likely will be some form of fall-out from that. Adoption parenting is not for sissies. It is parenting the hard way. It is not all giggles, and booties, and cute smiles. If you're not prepared to handle the good, bad, and ugly of it- then WAIT, or just DON'T do it.

If you desire to follow the latest trend like Angelina, Madonna, et al, and adopt some cute, needy kid, or you think of choosing a child the way most people choose a sweater and want one in the right size, shape, or color, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. I'd really like to go as far as saying you have no business being a parent, period- since you cannot guarantee that any child, whether by birth or adoption, will fit your criteria- but I'm trying to be nice. Children are not fashion accessories, and should not be treated as such. I'm not saying it is never appropriate to consider race/nationality in adoption. But those considerations should be about what's in the best interest of the child. I'm also well aware that many people have strong opinions and solid reasons for requesting a specific gender, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about statements like this: "If we adopt from Russia, the kid will still look like one of our own," or "Those little Asian babies sure are cute. I wouldn't mind getting one (that one was said to me after bringing my daughter home, and I almost puked over the use of the word "getting" because it sounded a whole lot like *acquiring* or *buying* goods)."

If you find yourself being focused on the cost of the child, as opposed to the cost of adoption, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS adopting a child. If you are constantly thinking of the $30K you're putting into this kid, you will most definitely wind up disappointed when the kid does not live up to your expectations (which will happen. We all have hidden expectations of our children- adopted or not) and you fail to get your money's worth. Maybe you should put that money into something that is more likely to perform to your expectations, like a car. Even then you might get a lemon, huh? Oh dear... Do some APs view their adopted children as "lemons?" You bet they do. You cannot place a cash value on the life of a child. They are priceless. Adoption is expensive. Suck it up and deal with it, or don't adopt.

So, why should a person adopt? That's not really something one person can answer, but I think it should start with this: Because you want to love a child; A child of YOUR OWN.

I have so much more I could say, but again- I feel as if my point is misdirected at those who need to hear it the least. It's a very helpless feeling. Plus, as usual, I've talked waaaayyy too long. So I'll shut up. Gosh, why do you guys keep putting up with all my babbling? I might as well go take a shower and put the coffee on. The little ones have their first basketball games this morning. I'll post a picture or two of them later.


Rebecca said...

Keep On Preaching!!!! I agree with you 100%!!!

Kelly said...

Great post! Really awesome points and I totally agree.

Miles' Mama said...

I also lost sleep over this last night. I think it was 3 a.m. before I actually fell asleep. Thanks for all your thoughts on this. I wanted to write more yesterday but was just too shocked by what I saw that I couldn't fully process it. I still can't wrap my brain around the ignorance... But I'm sorry that my post made you lose sleep!!! Not my intention at all!!!

Christina said...

Amen Sister! I was blessed to have the opportunity to speak to my church just a few months after our daughter R~ was adopted and boy did I "educate" them on a whole slew of things, including this "Own" business. I quoted 1 Corinthians 6:19 "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" - to make the point that WE are not "our own" - so how could any of our children (bio or adopted) be distinguished that way?
Anyway, it felt good to tell a big group of people not to use that phrase around me and my kids!! :)

Tracy said...

As always, well said. And I can't even tell you how mad the children of "your own" thing makes me. I hadn't seen the Siberian Adoption Story, so I looked on the Discovery Health Channel website to see if it's airing again soon (it's not). I was looking at the descriptions of some of the other Adoption Story episodes, and I couldn't believe how many times they said "X and Y weren't able to have any children of their own, so they started looking at adoption," or "The couple already has two children of their own." Wouldn't you think the producers of a show on a reputable network called "Adoption Stories" should recognize the stupidity of that kind of phrasing?

You may be preaching to the choir, but I agree with Rebecca: Keep on preaching.

*Sorry. I always have typos in my comments to your blog. I deleted my original and re-posted. I'm really not an idiot, I promise!

Michelle said...

Thanks, you guys, for the feedback and positive comments-I really appreciate it!

Christina, I've never thought about that verse in that context before. Thanks for the new insight. Loved it!

Tracy, I wouldn't worry too much about your typos- after all, I quoted scripture from the book of JaNes, instead of JaMes!!

Shelby said...

So true, although I've got to say that I got completely screamed out when I conveyed similar thoughts on my blog. Just shows what a difference a different readership makes.