When we finally decided we were going to move I went on a mission to ensure our son got to spend time with those that matter to him most. We knew that saying goodbye to his friends, family and even teachers would be hard, but how do you prepare your child to say goodbye to his parent of origin?
Adoption is real. It’s hard and it’s beautiful. If you think about it adopted kids have been saying goodbye to loved ones since before they could remember. At least for our little man it was like this from the moment he caught his first breath.
This month I had the honor of hearing April Dinwoodie, adult adoptee and advocate, speak to a room of adoption professionals about the need for openness in adoption. April encouraged that adoption is a human rights issue and not a one-time transaction. She described adoption as a life long journey. April boldly shared that children are not commodities. This phrasing brought it all home for me. I remember thinking " He's not just our family."
April noted that best practice recommendations support children’s basic human right to connect with and have information about their biological roots. This is why we have been so intentional to ensure that our son have information about his family of origin. However, having information was not enough he needed connection as well. This is where adoptive parents can put their love in action. If it is safe, I am a firm believer that connection with biological family is critical to adopted children.
As we stride into the next chapter for our family, it means saying goodbye to loved ones. When you have an adopted child it may mean saying goodbye to a biological parent they barely know. It may be awkward but so necessary. So we planned and last Sunday he spent time with her. The woman who carried him, has his same eyes.
He hugged her tight and held her hand. He asked me to take pictures. We took lots of them. He got to play with his baby cousin and met his uncle and aunt for the very first time. At that moment we realized the magnitude of this moment. His two families sharing a moment with him.
This visit was different from all the rest because for the first time he met his extended family. It was magical. He played and laughed with them, gave hugs and even asked to visit again before we take off to our new life and home.
I have discussed with him that moving away doesn’t make her any less his family. People often ask us how we do it? How are we ok with having him spend time with her as if love or the concept of family is confined to just us. We like to think of it, as there is enough love for all of us. Our conversation with her is about a promise we made to her over 12 years ago. It was a promise to give him a full, happy life and how this move is part of that promise.
Changes in Communication
This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new way to stay in contact. How will we modify our communication? We have decided to set up a private Facebook page for both families to connect and exchange photos. In addition, we will be intentional about visiting often. I hope our little man learns that in his life he will sometimes have to say goodbye to people he loves deeply, but although those goodbyes will be painful, it doesn’t mean those relationships aren’t worth the pain.
Adoptive parents we owe it to our children to find ways to honor their parents and families of origin. Connection is a way to honor their relationships.