Monday, July 05, 2010


Adoption is built on pain.

In the last months I have had extra opportunities to really examine the pain my children experience.

Adoption is built on pain and loss. It cannot be denied.

I am glad we live in a day and age where people are starting to understand how important it is to tell the truth. It encourages me that adoptive parents have multiple places they can go to learn how to be sensitive to the needs of their children who have suffered loss. I am glad the culture is no longer refusing to examine the difficult aspects of adoption. It is good we can talk about challenges of transracial adoption. Finally people are talking about attachment disorders with greater openness and vulnerability. I am thankful that experienced adoptive parents are talking. We need their voices. I am thrilled that adult adoptees are sharing their experiences - they have much to teach us. I'm glad that adoption is not being presented as a perfect fairy-tale story that is all unicorns and rainbows, because adoption is built on pain.

We talk about Hope/Phoebe and Isaac's first families fairly frequently.  All three kids have met them and visited with them more than once. As long as their families are willing we will continue to visit with them occasionally and they will have a way to reach us.  We are always watching closely for signs of pain and confusion before, during, and after these visits and conversations.

A couple of months ago we worked through our first true grief-session with our son.  It was so intense and raw that I hesitate to share too much.  He sobbed for a very long time over another adoption story.  (It was a difficult story.) He kept saying "He was only a little boy, he was only a little boy."  While he would not say his grief was at all related to his own story, I believe subconsciously it was.  He was incredibly grieved for the boy who had been removed from his Mother and he wept for both the Mother and the boy.  After a long evening of talking and praying (at his request we prayed for this Mom and boy) he calmed down and fell asleep.

That little glimpse into Isaac was something I'd really never seen. If anything, it was a good reminder that this stuff will be on-going and will crop-up in the lives of our adopted children throughout their lives.  It does not go away and certain things and milestones in their lives could bring grief, anger, and deep loss to the surface.  We need to be totally sensitive to it and not brush it off or minimize it.  Pretending it is not an issue is not the way to best support our children.

Isaac learned recently that his Uncle Matt is adopted. That normalized adoption for him. Isaac said, "Uncle Matt is like me Mom." 

A couple weeks ago Noah pulled a silly face and someone said, "That looked just like Troy."   Isaac stood nearby and said, "I wish I could be just like Troy too."  I jumped in quickly.  I said, "Isaac, the way you compliment us every day - the way you encourage and love others with kind words - *that* IS just like Dad.  You are like Dad in so many ways even if you don't look alike!"  We had a long discussion about the different ways we could be like someone we look up to;  Isaac really grabbed onto that and felt satisfied knowing that looks were not the only thing that could connect him to his Dad.

We're inexplicably blessed by all that our Haitian Sensations bring to our lives and our family. The love and joy they add cannot be quantified. As adoptive parents we ask God for unusual sensitivity toward all they have experienced (and still experience) and lost and that He would provide us everything we need to love them the way He does.

Thinking about adopting?  More adoption thoughts coming from guest bloggers this week. 
Check this post out too - it will get you thinking.


(photo from the day Phoebe came home - 2007)