Everyone involved is on an adoption journey. Different groups would do well to learn from others, whether or not they appreciate their position (or more often, their presentation).
Adoption is a Paradox
“Paradox: /per-ə-däks/ a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” Not just a possible truth… not when we’re talking about an adoption journey. To me, when talking about adoption, “paradox” means two completely opposite and contradictory facts that are absolute truth. But I believe in paradoxes.
It’s complicated; this adoption journey. I wish that my first son’s parents had not killed themselves. Those two-separate desperate acts have caused immeasurable amounts of pain for my son. I cannot imagine a loving parent who would not remove such a painful event from their child’s life, if they possibly could. On the other hand, I can’t fathom our family without my son. I can’t picture myself doing anything that would separate him from the rest of us. I.E. Paradox.
Each group or “division” (for lack of a better word) has items that are unique to that group’s adoption journey.
I have often written that adoption is not an event, it’s a journey. Everyone involved in adoption is on a journey. Each group or “division” (for lack of a better word) has items that are unique to that group’s adoption journey. First mothers find much common ground that adoptive parents don’t experience and can’t completely understand; even when they do their best. There are subjects where first parents might attempt to empathize, that would only be clear to adoptive parents. Social media has allowed adoptees to connect with others who share and can relate to their feelings. Different groups would do well to learn from others, whether or not they appreciate their position (or more often, their presentation).
That all seems fairly obvious, but the adoption journey is more complicated than that. Each person, regardless of the group that they fall into, is unique. Each has individual and even exclusive feelings. My four daughters all come from the same biological mother. The mother (despite an illicit profession that she probably didn’t have a choice in) claimed that all four girls had the same father. All four girls lived in the same dysfunctional family. All were abused in similar ways. All were removed from their first family. All spent time in orphanages. All lost members of their first family. All were removed from their original country of origin. All were adopted. And even with their genetic similarities, all of them have their own unique opinions, views and feelings about those experiences. They don’t all feel the same.
The complications of an adoption journey go even further than that. One day my daughter is angry because I am the replacement for her first father. The next day she is happy to be my daughter and tells me that I’m the best dad in the world. Both of those feelings are real and they are sincere, regardless of how paradoxical they sound. So, our feelings in our personal adoption journey are different from those experienced by persons in other groups. Our feelings in our adoption journey are different from others in our same group. And here’s the most complicated part… Our feelings in our adoption journey are different from our own feelings.
We are all different. We all have our own feelings. We are all unique. We all want and need different things. That’s what makes the adoption journey so complicated.
I grow frustrated when I read articles by other adoptive parents telling me how adoptive parents feel. The writer may well speak for themselves from that position. But that doesn’t mean all adoptive parents feel that way, even if there is a group— even if the majority of the group— feels the same. My adopted children react similarly when other people who have been adopted tell them (directly or in print) how they should feel. We are all different. We all have our own feelings. We are all unique. We all want and need different things. That’s what makes the adoption journey so complicated.
Because the adoption journey is so complicated, we really need to consider having therapists who specialize in adoption to help us along. Re-read that last sentence. I can’t tell you how important it is to have the right therapist! I was once in a discussion about adoption with a group of people. Only two of us had experience with adoption. One of the people asked a question that was left for either of us to answer. I spoke up first and showed my ignorance. I told them that while many people considered special needs adoption to be adopting a child with disabilities, it really went further than that. I said that special needs adoption was really about adopting any child that is harder to place than most children. I referenced age, race, disabilities and trauma as different things that might fall into the category of special needs adoption.
Today’s adoption therapists are well equipped to help all parties in an adoption journey to better understand each other.
My friend, Heather Kelly, let me finish before saying: “Any adoption is a special needs adoption.” WOW! Heather summed up the adoption journey right there. Who wouldn’t have special needs after their first family didn’t survive? We are very fortunate in today’s world of adoption. The stigma of using therapists to help us has reduced significantly from where it was only a few years ago. As a result, many, many first parents, adoptive parents and adoptees have turned to therapists for help. That means therapist who specialize in adoption have had lots of experience from people with all different kinds of histories and feelings. Today’s adoption therapists are well equipped to help all parties in an adoption journey to better understand each other and to help to construct plans that will improve the adoption journey for all involved.
One of the smartest principles I followed in building a successful international business was that I always worked with talented professionals and then I did what they told me to do. If I strongly disagreed with a professional, I found a new professional to work with. But I tried to never go against someone with more experience in an area than I had simply because I disagreed with them. Sometimes that was very hard. I have scars from biting my tongue to prove it. That’s alright. Because I followed the advice of those who had more experience than me, I could always afford a few stitches in my tongue and a nice vacation afterword, to recover.
The adoption journey is complicated. The adoption journey is a paradox. You don’t need to go it alone and you shouldn’t. This is one of the most difficult and important things you will ever be involved in. Don’t be afraid to invest heavily to your success.
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
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