Perfect people. Perfect Children. Perfect Parents. Perfect homes. Perfect lives. Perfect families. The images are everywhere in the media today.
I’m standing at my local grocery store checkout counter and staring at magazine covers with the images of perfect humans, perfect outfits, perfect bodies for those outfits, perfect places to travel, and perfect cars to get you there.
I, on the other hand, have my hair up in a mommy bun and my glasses are a little crooked on my nose. As I look down in an attempt to straighten my eyewear, I see clearly that I — in my hurried attempt to get my kids to school on time — left the house with my furry slippers still on my feet. I’m not perfect.
The thought of perfection actually stresses me out. It causes me anxiety. Having to live up to someone else’s expectations for who I am and how I should show up in this world is, well, daunting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried it. I have jumped — head first — into the unforgiving waters of perfection. I nearly drowned.
Perfection isn’t real. It’s a facáde created to sell stuff to the masses who have fallen into the false belief that perfection is somehow possible.
The pressure to be perfect can be felt within our families. And, for families created through adoption, the pressure of perfection can be of a constant nature. Here are three reasons why I believe we must reject perfection as a standard for adoptive families:
- Adoption isn’t perfect. It’s real. It’s messy. It’s broken. Just like life. When we try to show adoption as a perfect package, we may — unknowingly — turn away those who are sitting on the fence of adopting. “How could I possibly adopt a child? I could never be that perfect. Maybe adoption is not for me.” As adoptive parents, we have a responsibility to share what is real, honest and true about our journeys. And yes, that will look different for each of us. It’s vitally important, however, to be honest, and transparent in the telling of our stories and in the depiction of our days.
- Perfection is a no-win game. Our children of adoption need to understand that they are loved as they are. If we try to portray our families as something they are not, it puts a huge amount of pressure on our kids to also be someone they are not. Adoptees should never be made to feel that loving them is conditional upon them being perfect kids. When we put a stamp of perfection on the face of adoption, we do a great amount of disservice to the precious children who have been adopted into our lives.
- You don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself the gift of imperfection! Parents, you don’t have to be perfect to prove that you’re worthy of raising the children you have delivered via adoption. You don’t have to show yourself in perfect scenarios. Represent the truth of adoption by being a real, breathing human being who is moving through each day of parenting in real, authentic and integrity-filled ways. It’s a great gift for our children to see that we are imperfect, and in our imperfections, we are loved. It’s okay to smile in the checkout line of your grocery store as you straighten your eye-glasses and giggle at the slippers still on your feet. And, at that moment, to be grateful for all the imperfections that had to happen for you to become the parent of the children you raise.
When we are families with our eyes on growing, nurturing and loving one another, then the very idea of perfection should cause us to pause. Perfection is the opposite of growth, it’s stagnation.
Adoption is not perfect, it was never meant to be. Adoptees are not perfect, we were never meant to be. Adoptive parents are not perfect, we were never meant to be! We have to be careful of the standard we commit to accepting.
I like the image of imperfect people loving each other and learning from each other. I appreciate hearing a mom declare, “it’s been a tough day,” because her courage gives me the strength to say, “mine was tough, too.”
I like the thought of building real communities that share the good news that adoption is challenging and also inspiring. Adoption is hard, yet it’s also beautiful. Adoption has taught me that life is imperfect and that I, too, am imperfect. And, it is because of these imperfections that life grows richer, more meaningful, and far more promising.
Let’s rise and make a promise to each other: reject perfection as the standard for adoptive families.
It’s okay to be real.