The Need for Authenticity in Adoption

Recently, I was posed a question on Instagram from Naomi Quick @livingout127. She asked, “As an adoptee and adoptive mom, do you ever find it challenging to hold in tandem the beauty and brokenness surrounding adoption?”

The answer is, “Yes, Naomi, I do.”

As an adoptee, it’s been difficult to see a beauty in the broken pieces of my story. It’s been challenging not to identify myself as those broken pieces. Being adopted can be confusing when so many around you say, “just be grateful.” Gratitude is hard to arrive at when it’s surrounded by unspoken grief.

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Adoption and A Bigger Picture

Adoption, as both an international adoptee and mom-by-international adoption, has framed so much of how I see the world around me. This framing has architected within me a deep and profound compassion and empathy for those who hurt and are alone. When I was a kid, I remember that I’d be completely shattered at the thought of an animal who was lost and afraid. Pictures of orphaned children left me trembling in tears. Even my plushy stuffed toys, in my earliest of beliefs, had feelings and emotions that needed protecting.

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A “Rae” of Sunshine, by Wilma Ice

Courtney Rae arrived at my home, clutching a bag of toys and clothes. Her eyes darted around the room as she took in her new surroundings. Courtney Rae looked at her relinquishing foster mother, and then focused her eyes on me. Her new foster/pre-adoption mother. Standing firm, she angrily declared, “I hate you. You stink and this house stinks too!”

Our first night together was consumed with a little girl’s rage as Rae kicked the walls and screamed, “I don’t have any mama!” Exhausted and drenched in perspiration, she finally fell asleep. It was at this point that I approached her and began stroking her head and touching her fingers and toes, in awe. I fought back tears of sorrow as she, even in a deep sleep, clutched her jaw and tightened her face.

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Adoptees and the Journey of Finding Belonging

I openly welcome questions by individuals in our community of adoption and foster care who ask about my experiences as an international adoptee.

Questions of how those experiences have formed my identity, directed my relationships, and shaped my view of the world around me.

Recently, I was posed three meaningful questions to explore, which I will do in my next three blogposts. The first question is from Oleg Lougheed, international adoptee and founder of Overcoming Odds.

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Ready or Not? Parenting an Adoptee Tween, by Rachel Garlinghouse

I feel like in the proverbial blink-of-an-eye, my “baby” went from a cuddly, cooing infant to a tweenager. 

Though the earlier stages could be demanding—with the potty training and tantrums—I had experience. Throughout my teen years and young adult life, I’d been a babysitter, day care employee, children’s ministry leader, camp counselor, and nanny. Kids were my life. 

I’d potty trained other people’s children. I had put bandages on boo boos and read bedtime stories. I’d watched a little girl learn to walk and a little boy lose his first tooth. I’d watched one child, and I’d watched multiple children, including a children with special needs.   

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Adoptees, Let’s Get to the Wound

I used to avoid talking about my adoption. It was the last thing I wanted to share. I’m not sure why because the fact that I was adopted was evident. People could clearly see that I was not biologically related to my family members.

I used to avoid talking about my adoption. It was the last thing I wanted to share. I’m not sure why because the fact that I was adopted was evident. People could clearly see that I was not biologically related to my family members.

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Adoption: Love in an Instant, by Charity Grindstaff

Wow! What an incredible opportunity to connect with this community of fellow adoptive mamas and daddies, and those who are “potentials.” I’m honored and humbled to have been asked to contribute to a platform where so many others have given incredible advice, tips and encouragement.

I guess an introduction is in order, huh? My name is Charity, mom of two, one through birth in my womb, and the other through birth in my heart. That’s right, I’m a bio and adoptive mama to two very precious and very lively little girls. We live in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, close to Asheville, NC. We have lived here all of our lives. Ironically, my husband pastors a little country church in the heart of East Tennessee (yes, we drive 1.5 hrs to church on multiple times a week). We homestead—as novices who have no clue what we are doing— homeschool, run a small business (or three), craft, hike, and watercolor paint when there is free time.

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Child Welfare: A Journey Through Adoption, Foster Care, & Social Work, by Amanda Preston

Growing up my dream was always to become an actress. I loved the humorous aspects of the theatre and had the quirky acting personality of Amanda Bynes. The left-sided brain that I am, however, drew me towards a more practical career choice, and I ultimately decided to attend University to become a psychologist and make a great career for myself.

One day in my senior year of high school, however, I found myself reading the book Charla’s Children by Charla Pereau. It was an outdated and simple book that my aunt had gifted me about the life of a missionary who worked in an orphanage in Mexico and had adopted many of the children. Despite the insignificant appearance of this book, it changed my world. I knew, after reading that book, that I wanted to adopt children and somehow be involved with kids without families. Initially, I envisioned working in an orphanage just like Charla, though I wasn’t sure yet how I would get there.

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Everything I Am, by Kate Powers

Home. Family. Belonging. Love.

These are words that have often had both simple and confusing definitions for me.

We are taught about love throughout our lives and these lessons begin before we are born. We learn what love is through the demonstration of it in our lives. We learn too through any spaces or places that lack it. Our sensitive and wondrous bodies and brains remember this. We are established with a foundation and framework for how we see the world based on what the world shows us.

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Episode 14: Embracing, Supporting, and Uplifting Birthmothers, with Adrian Collins

On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Adrian Collins. Adrian writes about the complexities of being a birth mother, biological mother, and adoptive mother—and she puts her experiences to work for children. She’s testified before the Colorado Senate Committee on behalf of the Colorado Children First Act. She’s also the Adoption and Pregnancy blog editor for Hope’s Promise, and is working on her first memoir. Adrian’s journey is one of love, faith, and everlasting hope.

Whether you’re connected to adoption or foster care, or not, what Adrian shares here about that “pedestal of perfection” can resonate with us all.

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