Why we're adopting (and why I've been lying about it)
I’ve lied a fair amount about our adoption. At this point you should be asking yourself why I have been lying about it… and I’ll tell you (duh, that’s what a blog is for. yakety-yak-yak-yak).
We have been blessed to be able to have a biological child of our own, Rowan. And we have the ability to have more biological children. This leaves people befuddled when we tell them we are not taking this road due to infertility.
Which leads me to a story I have to tell you from one of our adoption classes we were taking last month:
There was the most lovely couple sitting in front of Mike and me that mirrored us- similar age, race, and spirited personalities. When working with them on an activity they asked why we were choosing to adopt (knowing we have a biological daughter) and I responded with something along the lines of “because this is just always something I have wanted to do.” Fast forward 10 minutes and the woman was in and out of the class, her husband was in and out checking on her, they were both out for a prolonged period of time, he came back in disheveled and apologizing profusely… They needed to leave. His wife was nauseous and experiencing their EIGTH miscarriage.
Sooo many thoughts went through my head…
Heartache for their many losses. I cannot even begin to imagine or pretend to know the emotional and physical turmoil they have been through.
How privileged my response of “because this is something I have always wanted to do” must have come off. We get everything and anything we want, right? bio and adopted child.
Oh my gosh, what if we get matched first??! Am I taking their baby?
What can I do for them? I can’t just witness that level of pain and not feel compelled to help.
Be thankful. Be thankful. Be thankful.
So no, we are not adopting because of infertility and for that we recognize how lucky we are. (sidenote- Having friends who have dealt and are currently dealing with infertility, you are undoubtedly some of the strongest people I know… the women AND the men. I very much look up to your spirit, strength, perseverance, resilience, and more.)
When we were expecting our first child, people’s faces lit up and they embraced us as we told them of our news. They were elated! So logically (or apparently, not so logically) I didn’t anticipate anything different when telling people of (what I perceived as) the same news. We are expecting, again! …just in a different way and with a different timeline. But the outcome is still growing our loving family. Hip hip hooray, am I right?? Apparently not (insert palm to the face here). While we’ve received a ton of overwhelming support from many of you (thank you so much, seriously, you guys are the freakin bestest), there have been other reactions that have taken me by surprise.
Sometimes people have looked at me cynically, questioned why we’re going this route, and I have felt the need to be prepared to explain and even defend myself in these times. Sometimes they never even convey any type of joy whatsoever (you guys, I’m being serious here). When I would begin to give an explanation as to why we’re adopting (because we just want to and have it in our hearts to), people’s reaction didn’t always change. Often times, they remained cynical… But I was expecting empathy. I was expecting approval. I was looking for them to SHARE in our joy! (like they did when I was pregnant with Rowan). I panicked. In the moment I felt uncomfortable, they seemed uncomfortable, and so I worked to get us both out of this awkward moment by grasping at something I thought might bring understanding: “Rowan’s birth was just so traumatic…” But I was LYING. (No, not lying as in the opposite-ish of sitting or standing. Lying as in telling a gosh darn fib).
Rowan’s birth was traumatic. Yes, she was born with her cord wrapped around her. Yes, her legs were blue and motionless and she had to be resuscitated by a team of doctors and nurses. Yes, I experienced a 3rd degree cut that didn’t heal properly and led to bedrest, physical therapy, and additional “treatments” that involved burning my skin with what looked like a giant 4th of July sparkler. None of this is why we’re adopting. I would go through that again in a heartbeat for our little Ro (yes, even the sparkler).
I felt compelled to tell friends, family, and even strangers that this is the sole reason or part of the reason we are choosing to adopt, but it’s not. Mike and I have planned to adopt since we first started talking about creating our family. As a matter of fact, part of why I dated Mike was because he said he would be willing to adopt one day. (Mike’s edit: also because he’s handsome and brilliant, charming and funny. Stacy’s edit: all of those are true). Nevertheless, I found myself telling this lie over and over again until I started to believe it. Then I realized 1) it was a lie, and 2) it wasn’t working.
Here’s the final encounter (similar to others) that made me realize the lie wasn’t working:
Nameless Woman (NW) who has three biological children: “Do you have kids?” Me: “Yes, I have an 11 month old daughter.” NW: “Do you want more kids?” Me: “Absolutely. My husband and I are going through the adoption process right now for our second child.” NW: “Really? Why are you doing that?” Me: (my head is down as I type this and my heart literally hurts) “Well, my daughter’s birth was quite traumatic, so this solidified our desire to adopt.” NW: (I will spare you her forever long story but she told me about the traumatic birth of her first child in more detail than anyone needs to know) She followed her story by telling me, “So you could have another. You just have to suck it up.” Me: … Me internally: Suck it up?? are you out of your d*mn mind saying that to me, woman? Yes, you clearly are. errrrhuurrrumph! YOU ARE SUCH A NINCOMPOOP!
I left and did a lot of much needed reflecting.
I tell Mike evvverrrryyything (so be careful what you share with me. I kidd. Kind of. But not really). But for some reason, I felt uneasy telling him about this encounter and I had to figure out why. It gave me knots in my stomach until it didn’t. It dawned on me… I had lied to this woman. I don’t lie. That’s not what I/we do. But I had been making an exception, not just with this woman, but with friends, family members, and other people we love and care about. Not out of malice. But as a calculated attempt to share the kind of connection we did when we were expecting Rowan.
A HUGE part of the adoption process is openness: meaning sharing your adopted child’s story with them from day one and never hiding the adoption or reasons surrounding it (among other things). Yet, in our classes we have also had people talk about how uncomfortable it can be to talk about adoption with people who haven’t gone through the process. We’ve even been encouraged to “protect ourselves” by keeping some aspects of the process just between us. The truth is, adoption is complicated and there are a lot of difficult feelings that are involved, but it is wonderful. I want to acknowledge that it’s uncomfortable to other people and be open to having tough conversations, while sharing our joy and excitement for our hopefully soon-to-be expanded family. So don’t expect us to be a couple looking to “protect ourselves” in this process. Sharing the intimate details of the process with our friends and family is what is healthy for us.
So after all that, why are we adopting? It’s simple really. We are choosing to adopt because we believe that every child deserves the stability and quality of life that their biological parents want for them, and we know that we have the ability and desire to welcome another child into our family, and to love them until our hearts just about explode with admiration and pride for this tiny little human we will be lucky enough to call ours.
That is why we are choosing to adopt.