I love my life and every single lesson that I’ve learned along the way. I’m grateful. Yet, as an international adoptee, I cannot say that I haven’t experienced moments when I’ve mourned the very fact that I’m adopted. Truth is, sometimes adoption hurts deep. No matter the life chapter an adoptee may be in, the hurt is real. It’s important to express that hurt, to let it out.
This can be difficult when so much about adoption is wrapped in joyful ribbons and bows. I understand this joy, as I honor the beauty of adoption each and every day. In so many ways, adoption has been a great blessing in my life. Yet, as an adoptee and adoptive parent I would be remiss if I dismissed the voices within my adoption community that express feelings of being left, abandoned, erased. I would be remiss if I dismissed the voice within myself, as well.
Are you stuck in a rut? Paralyzed by that thing called fear? Looking for certainty before you make a move? Ah, I’ve been there and — honestly — on some days I’m still there!
Life can come at us hard, my friends. Seasons change, yet all too often, we find ourselves stranded in winter without a plow to rescue us into spring. In other words, we can become snowed in by those seasons where we have experienced pain, heartache, loss, and disappointment. We can become trapped in the cold identities that are linked to the struggle. It’s difficult to break through the ice and get back to a warmer place of joy and belonging.
Let me introduce you to my children: Christian is the eldest, and on the left hand side of this photo; Eviana is in the middle; and Ian is on the right. Eviana and Ian were both delivered into my life via international adoption. Eviana is from Ethiopia. Ian is from Russia.
We are a family representing diverse cultures and colors. I believe it is from this place of diversity where we have birthed a deep and unwavering commitment to inclusion.
I am aware that there are varying opinions in this world about families like mine; opinions that range from support to shock…even outrage. It seems that difference can alarm, agitate, inflame, upset and unhinge some. We fear what we do not understand. Our differences, though, should never divide us. Yet, we know throughout human history that difference has shown the capability to separate. Today, it still possesses the same capacity to tear apart.
The beginning is the most important part of the work. ~Plato
Could there be anything more daunting than staring at a blank canvas, or a blank computer screen? It’s always the first stroke, or the first word that seems so difficult to release.
At the same time, could there be anything more exciting than contemplating the potential that a blank canvas holds? The moment when you anticipate all the possibilities about to unfold. Indeed, as Paul Cezanne once put it, “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”
My son will be thirteen-years old, this August. He was delivered into our family via adoption, from Russia. When we brought him home, he was just eleven-months old. Over the years, he’s not been one to speak much about being an adoptee; he’s somewhat quiet regarding the topic.
As an international adoptee myself, I don’t press the matter. My son knows that we carry an open-door policy on the matter of adoption discussion. In other words, there’s never a bad time to ask a question, and there’s never a bad question to ask. As his mother, I want my son to know that he is safe to explore his feelings and emotions with his family. I want him to understand that, in our home, transparency is held as top priority. It’s important for my son to feel safe as he enters into his teen years: safe to discuss his adoption story, openly and honestly.
The sun is setting as I write these words. Blue ocean kissed by a blush colored sky. A new moon sits, alone, without the company of stars.
On this night…
I sit quietly, taking in the rustling of the breeze through palm trees. The distant sounds of frogs singing their goodnights.
I want to embrace every sound, every color, every movement, as night approaches; as light gives way to dark. I want to feel God’s rhythm. I want to trust in the returning of dawn.
I’m learning to release the beliefs in this life that once kept me tethered. Perhaps, the most confining of these beliefs was the one that placed a large amount of importance on what others might think of me.
I’ve spent a good part of my life in work that goes hand-in-hand with public critique and opinion: television ratings and rankings, book reviews, and feedback down to the color of my blouse. It’s part of the territory.
I’ve been told that I’m too humble with my words; that my writing needs more sex appeal and less God appeal. I’ve been judged, by some, for being an adoptee who has also adopted. And, judged, by others, for writing books that express a beauty in adoption. I’ve been celebrated for my writing, and I’ve been castigated. I’ve learned a lot about life, through the experiences of both.
If you could have your perfect day, what would it look like? Would your day be filled with the rush of business matters, making phone calls, or ticking away at that to-do list? Would you disappear from sight and take to binging on social media?
What would you do?
I pose this question to myself, as well, as we welcome in the month of June. Summer is upon us; kids are getting out of school and I sense the excitement of an expansion in time. The days are longer, and I even get a break from filling school lunch boxes in the early morning hours! This, alone, fills me with an anticipation equivalent to that of flying off to some tropical island! There’s just something about the summer months and the marvelous thought of slowing down.
Difficult to place.
These are the three words that social workers used to describe me while in the care of the United Kingdom’s foster care system. In other words, these three little words equaled one giant judgement about my worth. The social worker assigned to my case believed that finding a family for a child like me would be, yes, difficult.
I was seen as “illegitimate” and “ethnic” within the system. My foster papers described me as the “extra-marital daughter” of a woman who indulged in an affair with a “dark man.” Adding, “The child is dark, like her father.”
As a former foster child, as well as an international adoptee, I’m often asked about my nationality. In other words, people are curious as to where I originated, what my heritage is and to whom I once belonged.
Believe me, I have been — in my lifetime — ultra curious about these things, as well. In fact, the journey of discovery has taken me along paths to unknown destinations, and to unknown parts of myself.
The experience of seeking out adoption truth is like putting together a puzzle with vital pieces missing. Empty holes. Empty spaces. Those hollow places in the heart; caverns created by loss.
How much are we willing to sacrifice in an effort to put back the pieces of a shattered-self? What are we willing to risk? How can we revive the dormant parts of who we once were, as adoptees, prior to being removed from our first lives?