Adoption: Love is Not All You Need

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This month is forever etched in my heart. It’s the month we are intentional about giving thanks. It’s the month we celebrate adoption awareness month across the nation but above all it’s the month I became a mom.

I wasn’t supposed to be a mom. At least not the traditional way.  Yet God blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to see our son be born 13 years ago this month. In my post, Adoption: A Glimpse Into the Day My Son was Born, I share my step by step recollection of his birth. It changed me forever.

I can’t even believe that 13 years have passed since the day I saw him catch his first breath. As he has grown older his understanding of adoption has grown as well.

Recently, I asked him a series questions about his adoption experience. *He said it was ok to share some of his feelings with all of you. Some of his many thoughts we kept private.We shared the ones he felt would help other families. *

Conversations About Adoption With My Teen

How do you feel when you think about adoption?

“Adoption makes me both happy and sad. I love my life with you and daddy and at the same time I miss them (his first family).”
This is what I call double dipped feelings. Double dipped is when an experience gives you happy and sad feelings at the same time. That’s really how adoption feels for many adopted youth.

As adoptive parents we have an opportunity here to have honest dialogue with our children about the complexities that come with adoption and that it’s ok to have both sets of feelings. It natural to feel this way. We should never take offense to it or expect them to be thankful for being adopted.

I wonder if love is enough when you are adopted?

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“Love is enough because without you and daddy loving me (even when a mess up) my life would be a sad place. It’s enough because you guys do so much for me. You buy me stuff (he’s rotten and it’s all my fault), you teach me to be kind and we talk about adoption whenever I want to.”

I’d like to focus on his last point. We encourage him talk about adoption whenever he wants. As an adoptive parent and professional I believe Love can be enough when followed by action. In my interview on the Multiracial Family Man Podcast, with Alex Barnett, I shared my thoughts on what love needs to look like for an adopted child. In that intereview, I said “Love must be followed with action.” However, action requires honesty, commitment, flexibility and places our son at the center not me. Love brought us to him and action in love keeps us growing together. This means that fostering a relationship with his first family is our obligation as his parents. We don’t wait for him to bring up his birth mom. We do. we make it a safe space to talk about his real feelings.

Should all kids know they are adopted?

Wait some kids don’t know they are adopted!!? Why not?  Yes they should know!!! It’s their story and their right to know. Right mom? I’m so glad I know even when it makes me sad sometimes.”

Some adopted families are  unique in that we are the keepers of our child’s story. We dictate when and how we share it.  It requires having difficult conversations when you least expect it like the time he was a ring bearer at my sisters wedding and right after he exited the sanctuary and we were ready to take photos he tugged my dress and asked “Mommy were my real parents married?” Or the time we had the sex talk but couldn’t do that without him asking questions about when Mrs. L was pregnant with him. As adoptive parents, we never know what moment will prompt a conversation about adoption. What I do know is that just like when he asked the question at my sister’s wedding I dropped everything took him to the side and answered his question. We have to make time for the tough conversations.

Now that you are 13, what would you like your family to know about your adoption?

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“I have a big family from Ms. L ( first family) to yours and daddy’s family. I think of myself as the cornerstone. I connect all of you.”

This kid is wise beyond his years or maybe his life story makes him this way. He was born knowing what it means to have loss and love. I always tell him how happy we are that he was adopted and at the same time we understand that those feelings of joy are tied to loss for him.

One thing I can say about my kiddo is that he loves hard and well. He adores his grandparents and misses his cousins when they are gone. His uncle Alex is the coolest guy he knows and he knows his aunties even his Titi Yvette will buy him whatever he wants.

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A great example of this is our recent family (indoor) skydiving trip. He wanted everyone one there ( cousin’s, tit,etc). Our love of him is mutual so that meant that althogh we were freaking out we would all be there. You see, even though we were all terrified and he was straight up fearless he taught us a valuable lesson. Often times adoption may feel like free falling. No real clear direction. In the end with the right support, love and commitment you can soar high!

Everyday this man child teaches us what it means to be an amazing human being, to love well and be exactly who God created us to be. That is how adoption has changed my life forever. It continues to teach me that love may not be enough but it is an amazing place to start.

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