A Letter to You

Dear friend, 

Did you know, November is Adoption Awareness Month? It’s all over my FB feeds, in mostly positive ways. I am adoptive mama to one. My feelings about this month have morphed over the years. At first, in our attempt to adopt, it was amazing to raise awareness about the need of orphans around the world. Then we adopted our sweet girl. And everything changed.

For several years, when we were in the thick of the on-going trauma in our home, I hated this month—the trite little adoption sayings, the pictures of sweet mixed & blended families. Although many would say it wasn’t easy, I never felt like any of the words adequately described my adoption experience, what was happening in our home, how hard we tried to do all the right things, how hard it feels like we failed. Even now, the posts and things I see break my healing heart. 

So during this November, this Adoption Awareness month, I just want you to know that adoption doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. 

To be sure, no parent walks into an adoption situation and thinks, “this will be a piece of cake.” That’s foolishness. But just like we all underestimate what it takes to parent any child, we extra underestimate parenting through loss, trauma, culture-shocks, and the ensuing special needs. So many people I know have risen to this. There are hard, but beautiful stories in the world around me. I treasure those stories. I love and support those families. I’m going to write a glowing recommendation letter for friends who just shared with us their desire to adopt. I love how adoption can work. 

But that is not my story. It is one of my deepest griefs, one of my most personal failings, that adoption didn’t work for us. But the truth is while I am still my Sweet One’s mom, the way I best parent her and protect myself and my other kids is to have her live somewhere else. Consequently, she is far away (at the best school we could find for her and she’s thriving) and I am working on healing from the abuse I have experienced. I carry so much guilt for my failings as a mom, for not knowing, for letting harm be done in my home. The repercussions of our decision to adopt will affect our family for years to come. 

I don’t want to dampen your excitement or enthusiasm for adoption but I just want you to be aware. For every family for whom adoption works, there’s one suffering (probably in shame-filled silence) somewhere. 

During Adoption Awareness month you need to know that adoption just doesn’t work for everyone. I need you to be aware of that too. 

Blessings, 

S

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