Saturday, March 29, 2014

on opening ourselves up to pain and possibility

If you are adopting and you are given the opportunity to meet the family of the child you are adopting, there are so many good reasons to do it. 

(This entry is an addendum to Part I.   This article talks about open adoption from a country that does not typically do open adoptions. Still working on Part II and III.)

I started to write these entries about open adoption and quickly realized the pain part is what many adoptive parents hope to avoid.  We don't like unknowns and when the unknowns could be painful, we usually choose to bypass them.  Just yesterday I caught myself doing it.  My son Isaac's first parents were waiting outside the Maternity Center to talk to me and I did not want to face it because it is hard. I did not want to feel the way it feels to stand face to face with the incongruity of our lives. I did not want to hear what they needed because hearing what they need hurts. Not being able to fix things hurts. 

In the original post I said: 

I think it is our job as people of love to uplift the marginalized and to be more than fair. If we are honest we know that we hold the power. We (adoptive parents) have the passports and the money and the ability to be connected and jet around the world. With great power comes great responsibility. We made a decision many years back that no matter how intimidated we might be by entering into an open adoption relationship, it was the correct thing to do and a way we could tip the scales of injustice back the other way.

I realized that I need to further qualify what I said there. By saying it is our job, I did not mean to imply that it would be all sunshine and roses. This is painful stuff. When it comes to knowing first families, it will involve some pain. 

Any child that has been placed for adoption will come to you with their own pain and history of loss. No matter how hard we try to frame it or tell it in a fairy-tale way, we cannot make adoption into a pain-free endeavor. It is not pain-free for them, it is not likely to be pain-free for adoptive parents either. 

Some of the most painful things in life are the things that give us the greatest opportunities to grow (change) and become more loving and gracious. 


In 2009 we returned a little boy named Renald to his family after fostering him for a handful of months. Our daughter Paige often says this was one of the hardest days she ever faced in Haiti. We learned so much about ourselves and our attitudes toward "the poor" during and after our time caring for Renald - I am linking to this story today because it is easy to get in a place of superiority as adoptive (or foster) parents (with the power) where we think that we are better suited and therefore doing a big favor by adopting - maybe that leads us to think we don't need to worry about knowing the first family. Sometimes we think that our material blessing automatically makes us a better candidate for the job and causes us to decide (unfair) things about first families. I think that is a trap, one I hope many can avoid. 

Find Renald's return story here.