There really is a beautiful and almost magical side to our adoption stories. We wanted our daughters badly. Our sons wanted little sisters, too. We painted bedrooms and bought new clothes. We even made story books about our family, our home, our pets, and the journey we would make together when our airplane followed the sun to take us home. Of course there were stuffed animals, baby blankets, lullabies sung by a new mother and recorded to give to the children. We had a honeymoon period together with trips to a local beach, walks through gardens of flowers, and time together watching sunrises and sunsets.
That was only part of the story. There were things in my daughters’ lives that made far more impact than the things we did. One of my daughters has a massive third degree burn scar covering her chest, for which she received no treatment until it almost killed her. Then Social Services removed her and her little sister from the home. There were other scars, underneath, caused by things that I won’t trouble you with. Oh, adoption is loaded with scars.
The time of the adoption needs to be spent in gathering
information; not avoiding, ignoring, or hiding it.
Though not in our family, there are people who have been adopted who are haunted by the scars of misinformation, or perhaps worse; a lack of information, hidden by elaborate intent. Was a young mother shamed into placing her child for adoption by her family, or those who claimed religion as their justification? Would she have kept and cared for her child if only anyone would have supported her? Were parents told that their child would have a life of difficulty in their home village, but that rich people would turn her into a princess if they agreed? Were they told it would be a temporary arrangement? Was the adopted person kidnapped? Is a family still searching and wondering about them? All of these things have happened. If you were the adopted one, what would you wonder? How long would you search? How angry would you be?
I believe in adoption. I really believe in adoption. I believe in all sorts of adoption, understanding that no one scenario works for everyone and that nothing is a fix-all when a child’s first family fails. Still, I believe that as adoptive parents, and prospective adoptive parents, we have a responsibility. We need to provide our children with as much truthful information about their past as we can. And the time of the adoption needs to be spent in gathering information; not avoiding, ignoring, or hiding it. If you are a Christian, like I am, you even have a religious obligation to stand for truth.
As much as it irritates some, I believe that there is a place for rainbows and unicorns in any childhood, adoption related, or otherwise. Those things never belong on the same shelf as truth. When items and stories of make-believe (or even partial truth) are used to cover over, or to replace history, then I hate them with a passion. I might as easily erase the scar on my daughter’s chest with a baby blanket as to try to use sweet stories of adoption to remove the emotional scars caused by abuse and the failure of her first family.
I do think that rainbows and unicorns should be able to erase adoption scars. I think they should cure cancer, too.