I’ve discovered something.
Something that, to be honest, I didn’t know needed discovering. Although, I suppose one could say all important discoveries begin that way.
Recently a video made it’s way around Face (as my friend Cynthia calls it. Most of us call it FaceBook. I think Face is much more awesome.) Why some videos attain this magical power and are shared by nearly every friend I know until I finally cave and watch to see what all the fuss is about is one of those mysteries of the Universe. But you all know what I’m talking about. It happens to you, too. Don’t deny it.
This video was of a very sweet couple, who struggled with infertility. And decided to adopt.
They talk about their journey, and no doubt it is heart-rending and sad. Clearly they are a devoted couple who would make lovely parents. Their pain brings you to tears.
And then it shows them driving to the hospital.
And waiting, nervously. Anxiously.
And meeting “their son.”
They hold him, weeping, proclaiming to the world that this boy is who they were waiting for. That he was a gift, from their Creator TO THEM. That he was meant to be their’s. That he was, essentially, the purpose behind their suffering. The reason for it all.
So many people prayed for you, they exclaim. They prayed for you to come be part of our family, they say. Our prayers were answered, they cry.
Now, I’m not sharing the video cause, don’t get me wrong, I am not about to knock this couple. At all. I am sure they are lovely people. And they are not unique in this message.
But the MESSAGE.
The Message. This message, repeated over and over and over again, that surrounds so much of adoption culture.……
It’s horribly. Terribly. Completely.
I didn’t realize it before. I did not understand it before. I couldn’t see it before.
How could I?
How could you?
The Truth is, however, this singular fact: Babies Belong With Their Mothers.
Before you get all up in my face about how “That’s not always possible” and extenuating circumstances and all the reasons why a child may not be with their birth-parents let me just say I know. I KNOW.
There are lots of reasons mothers and babies can’t stay together. I get that.
Some of them are social. Some of them are financial. Some of them are mysteries. Some of them are tragic.
I’m not judging birth mothers. And I’m not judging adoptive parents.
(Cause, Hello. That would be me.)
What I am saying is I have discovered something I think you cannot discover unless you live with a child who has experienced the trauma of separation from their first mother. Even if it was necessary. It was still trauma.
Until you have held a child, weeping, red in the face from screaming, room in shambles from throwing every object they managed to get their hands on, who finally melts in to you and sobs quietly “I love you, Mommy. Why didn’t my first mother keep me? I wish she had.“….perhaps you cannot understand. Perhaps you cannot fathom the depth of that sorrow. I couldn’t before. It took me awhile to realize these words were not about me, about her not loving me or me not parenting “right” or “just giving it time”. These words are about a question which cannot be answered. A life gone before it began, an newborn torn from the only person they have ever known, who’s very life was their life and who’s heart beat was their own and who’s DNA is in every cell of their body.
I am here to tell you: Babies Belong With Their Mothers.
This fact is especially personal, this discovery especially poignant, to me because as many of you know I got pregnant at 17. I was encouraged by many, some for good reasons and some for less-good-reasons, to give my baby up for adoption. There were the usual arguments. How can I care for a baby, still a child myself? How could we provide “everything that child would need?” Wouldn’t a stable, happy, grown couple be a more suitable family for your son?
I kept my son.
The Truth is, for years, I grieved that choice. I grieved it, and I second guessed it. It was my inner demon.
Had I just been selfish, I wondered as I rocked him to sleep. How could I ever be good enough, I questioned as I dropped him off at daycare to attend college. Surely he deserves more, I pondered as I noticed he didn’t have as many things as other kids his age. Perhaps someone else could have done better for him, I thought as I cried myself to sleep.
This. Is. A. Lie.
And it took spending almost two years mothering Vi for me to discover it.
To fully understand all the implications.
It is a tragedy when a child is separated from their Mother.
It does not matter why.
They can be raised in another family. They can be loved all the days of their life.
But we were Never Plan A for her life. Plan A was her mother. Her Father. Her brothers and sister.
She was not created to be HERE. We are here, and we love her. She will never be alone again, and she is now our daughter and our family. We have stood in the gap, and we will hold her and cherish her and try to help heal some of those wounds.
But people who say “We prayed for you to come. And you came! You were meant to be ours!”
Are entirely missing the boat.
Adoption is powerful and beautiful. And it can be redemption for a child cast aside their society, and it can be about finding children who have nothing and no one anymore and finding a place where they can be safe and belong. Children belong in families. Family is so important.
But the baby they cradle so tenderly, who’s forehead they kiss, who’s blanket catches their tears and who’s name they proclaim as their own, has just experienced tremendous, incomprehensible loss.
I am not simply discussing infant adoption, just to be clear. The same thing happened the moment our daughter stepped in to that office 21 months ago in Ukraine.
She had to lose herself, to be found. Just think about it, for a moment.
A new name and a Mommy who would jump in front of a train for you does not change the fact that this Mommy, this name, this Life……They were Not Plan A.
Adoption is beautiful.
But it is First a Great Tragedy.
Beauty from Ashes.
There is very real pain, and very real loss, which creates the need for adoption to exist at all.
Adoption is not a neat little package, a gift tied with a bow and bestowed upon those who are most deserving (in the case of an infant) or most courageous and saintly (in the case of an older child). It is an event born of the hardest, saddest story of them all: The separation of a child from their mother.
We cannot be our best selves as parents without empathy, and we cannot have real empathy if we do not fully grasp this fact.
We would all do well to be mindful of the language we use in adoption culture to describe the events which transpired in order to bring our children in to our families in the first place.
Our children deserve that much from us.
Even if it’s a bit messier, a bit more painful, a little less of a youtube one-hit-wonder.
If you are considering adoption, pray that you will be led to a child in desperate need of a family. Pray for understanding, when that child finally comes in to your home, that you will have the strength to stand in the gap for them and be witness to their loss even as you prepare the way ahead in to this new life. Pray for the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents who are losing this child as well.
But please. Please. Do not pray for a child to come to you.
If you do that….understand you are praying for a tragedy.
I am grateful I chose to raise my son.
I can be grateful to be allowed the privilege of raising Vi and helping her live a full and happy life…while wishing in the most sacred and honest part of my heart that my darling, precious daughter had never needed to experience the profound loss which brought us together.
That is The Truth.