Of all of the mothers and fathers in the world, adoptive parents should be able to relate to each other on a grander scale. No one understands the fall and rise of emotions or the chaos and struggle of adoption like a fellow adoptive parent. It’s truly a different “world” that sets us apart and SHOULD bond us together. For some reason, sometimes the opposite happens. What should unify us becomes the source of conflict and frustration. Sometimes even hurt and ridicule follow, sad to say.
Perhaps it is going through the adoptive process itself, perhaps it’s our own fears sneaking out and projecting onto others, I don’t know. It is true; however, that to adopt a child, you have to develop a thick skin. You have to learn to expect the unexpected and at the same time you cannot expect too much. You have to be willing to take a chance that your own heart could very well be broken (and in many cases again and again). You have to put your feelings on hold for someone else during one of the most emotional moments of your life. This inevitably makes us a group of very opinionated and very protective (and sometimes even defensive) parents.
Every mother and father have their own parenting styles. This varies largely from family to family, and even often within the family itself. No child can be parented exactly the same as another. You have to adjust for the specific needs of your child / children. We accept this so easily in other families, yet within our own community we are quick to jump on another for doing something “differently”.
I haven’t experienced much of this personally. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid the drama in this respect…for the most part. I’ve also been blessed with a very supportive group of people–in all avenues of my life. However, I have seen it happen to many others, and it upsets me the same every time. The criticism is unnecessary and quite frankly, it just tears us down. We have enough to handle every day with the outside world. We don’t need to be causing damage to ourselves at the same time.
Each adoption comes with its own unique “story”. Some families have very open adoptions, some have semi-open adoptions and others have totally closed adoptions where there is absolutely no contact whatsoever. The amount of contact varies SO much between each family due to their individual needs and the wants/needs of the birth parents. Who are we to judge another for having one over the other? We all do what works best for OUR family. After all, that’s why we originally got into the world of adoption–family.
The way that I “handle” a situation with our child’s birth mother may not be the way that someone else would “handle” theirs. We are all individuals–as are the birth parents of our children. We don’t all fit within a box of “right and wrong” and we can’t expect it of others either.
I know my child’s birth mother and her personality. I know her intentions and I know her quirks. Some may disagree with the way that our relationship works, but the important thing is that it DOES work for us and for my son. There are adoptive parents that want so badly to have a relationship with their child’s birth parents but hit a brick wall every time they try to move forward. What works for my situation would not work for them. They have other obstacles. We would all do well to keep these things in mind.
Some of the most wonderful mothers I have ever met are adoptive mothers, don’t get me wrong. I value them and respect my adoptive mama’s more than they probably even know. Most of the adoptive mothers I know are VERY supportive, very sensitive to others’ situations, and very uplifting. There are some (more than one may realize), however, that are very critical and even harsh at times. This took me by surprise. We expect criticism, snide remarks and judgement. We don’t expect those things from the people who should understand adoption most of all.
What bonds us together should not be driving a wedge between us at the same time. It annoys me. It aggravates me. But most of all, it disappoints me.
I personally have reached out to several adoptive mama’s. I wanted the support from those who knew what it was REALLY like to be facing the obstacles that lie ahead. I am quite sure that others who ARE being criticized did so for the same reasons. We need to be supporting each other instead of tearing each other down.
When there is so much negativity surrounding adoption already (Hollywood does not help with their exaggerated, highly dramatized versions) in this country, we need to be there to support each other. When we see something happening that can cause distress, we can jump in and give advice. We can offer suggestions. But we can do so in a KIND way.
We would all do well to remember this quote by Mother Teresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”.
Let the positivity begin now! Let’s stop breaking each other down and start lifting each other up. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes it’s an email or an example of a situation that will help the other person know they aren’t alone. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a listening ear.
We well know how tough adoption can be. It’s been the most rewarding adventure of MY life, but it was also one of the toughest battles I’ve ever faced. Remember to put yourself in the shoes of others before you speak and to consider how long-lasting your words could be to someone. I’d rather my words be remembered as good and kind. I’m sure all of us do!
Here’s to remembering what friendship is all about and to always having someone to lean on when times get rough. Here’s to being frank and honest but yet kind and loving. Here’s to remembering that someone else’s story isn’t the same as ours yet we can always help each other through it all.
And here’s to my husband…who reminds me of this every day without saying a single word.