Saturday, November 1, 2008

the dichotomy of adoption

Dichotomy. I love this word, which is strange for me because I'm really about using plain language!

I first learned this word when attending Seminary with my husband. A dichotomy is a separation of a concept into two parts that differ widely from each other or even contradict each other. I recognize the many dichotomies' that exist in my faith and have tried to create space for both parts that seem to contradict each other and live within the tension. For example, God gives us free will and choice, but yet He knows what lies ahead for us.

The day I came to the realization that dichotomy exists in adoption is the day everything sort of fell into place for me. Adoption is a blessing and adoption is about loss - these two parts seem to contradict each other and it creates a sort of tension. To ignore one or the other would be detrimental to all members of the adoption triad. My journey is about learning how to live in this tension acknowledging blessing and loss together.

When someone finds out that we are adopting, often the reaction is one of excitement for the child - this child will be one lucky baby - but yet this child will experience profound loss so I'm quick to acknowledge that truth with most people. It's tough to find a balance in doing this because I don't want people to think that I'm not excited about our future family, because I truly am, but I also need to provide some insight into the adoption process so as to educate others. The day I signed the adoption application form is the day that I became an educator! So when someone says "This child will have a better life with you, there are too many social programs now that keep babies with young moms, this will be a lucky baby, etc" we say, "Yeah, it's too bad that there are difficult circumstances in this world that many people have to deal with. This child may have some different opportunities but will also have some unique challenges related to adoption. Our job is learn how to be the best adoptive parents we can to help this child deal with these challenges in healthy ways." I don't know if our reply is too vague, not educational enough...any insight from members of the triad? It's tough to find the words to say when I know we won't sit down and have a longer conversation. I have to find phrases or words that can quickly convey the dichotomy of adoption to others - the blessing and the loss.

Some may not think this is really all that important or that I'm over-thinking things again, I completely disagree with that. This is extremely important and worth putting a lot of thought into! Many lives are effected by the adoption process and all too often the focus is on the blessings. In general, many of us struggle with having the conversations that bring up sorrow, loss, and hurt. In adoption, we must be open to having those conversations because only then can we find balance in the dichotomy and live joyfully within the tension.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I admit, I read this: "This child will have a better life with you, there are too many social programs now that keep babies with young moms, this will be a lucky baby, etc" and immediately thought, "OUCH" because that hurts to hear.

My daughter would have had a wonderful life with me. We might have been a little tight on the budget for the first few years, but I know she couldn't be loved any more than if she were still in my family.

I think you've done a great job working on a response - and to be honest, the fact that you are compelled to respond (and correct people!) is great to me! I think the biggest point is that (A) as you've said the child will have a different life, not necessarily a better one and that (B) babies should stay with their Mothers as often as possible - and if that means with assistance then great.

Adoption should be a last resort for expectant parents. I would hate to think that a little money would be the only factor keeping a woman from parenting her child.

I really appreciate this post - best of luck on your adoption journey! (I'm going to be paying close attention!!!)