Two more weeks until November; just a few more days until National Adoption Awareness Month officially begins.
November can be an emotionally loaded month for those of us in the adoption community. Feelings can run the gamut; a true testimony to just how deep and diverse the adoption experience is.
An experience ripe with joy, sorrow, loss, gain, blessing, and pain. There’s a coming together and a coming apart. There’s a shattering and a healing. There’s community and isolation. There’s calm and rage. Contrasting views and perspectives. That’s adoption.
Those contrasting views and perspectives can even be felt within the heart of one, single individual. Take me, for example. I experience the waves of joy and of grief every November. As a mom-by-adoption, there is a joy that fills me up as we approach the coming month. I want to celebrate my family and our story of adoption. It’s a beautiful story and worthy of sharing.
Yet, as an adult adoptee I also carry the weight of November. I sense the heaviness of loss that has followed me along my life-journey. Loss doesn’t feel celebratory. It feels more like mourning. And, that’s okay.
I used to be ashamed of that feeling. Guilty that I felt a sense of loss by being adopted when everyone told me just how much I had gained. Guilt leads to shame. Shame leads to isolation. We turn off our feelings, become numb and turn away. I’m better alone, we tell ourselves.
Only, that’s a lie. We’re better together. Birth parents. Adoptees. Adoptive parents. Foster children. Foster youth. Foster parents. Social workers. Adoption Advocates. We are better when we’re united. We’re better when we can say, without reservation: Don’t hide. Don’t be ashamed. Feel what you need to feel. Let it out so that healing can begin.
If we can look at this November, National Adoption Awareness Month 2018, as a kick-off to more transparency in our community, perhaps we can grow and deepen our understanding of how it really feels to walk the paths of adoption and foster care. Perhaps then, some in our community wouldn’t feel like hiding away because the thought of celebrating adoption when they still feel so sad inside, marginalizes their experience.
It’s absolutely fine to celebrate adoption, but let’s not isolate in the process.
Adoption is many things. It’s never been one dimensional. All too often, though, those of us touched by adoption are asked to live it superficially. Stay on the surface. Don’t go deep. Yet, we have to dive in. We shouldn’t resist the feelings and emotions moving through us. It’s vital to release them.
Elizabeth Gilbert has a quote that I appreciate. “How do you survive a tsunami of grief? By being willing to experience it without resistance.”
Where do you fall, on the spectrum of emotions, as we move closer to November? How is your heart right now? What are you really feeling in the deepest parts of your soul?
Whatever you may be feeling as we move into November, don’t resist. If you’re a parent, don’t ask your children to resist, either. Hold space for truthful, honest, and supportive sharing. Talk with your family or with a trusted friend about what can trigger you during Adoption Awareness Month. Don’t run from it. Don’t hide from these conversations.
Remember, we’re better together. We’re stronger when we live adoption out loud, together.
I used to hide. I didn’t want to face the feelings inside of me. They were so strong I feared that if I let them out they might overtake me. They might devour me. Truth is, keeping my feelings trapped inside of me was the very thing that diminished and consumed my spirit. Releasing those feelings, sharing my story of adoption, with all the emotions that come along with that story …. freed me.
Don’t we all want to be free?
This is what I tell my children, today:
Hey loves, November is coming. There is so much to celebrate because adoption brought us together. And, we’re an incredibly blessed family. There’s also so much to reflect on and feel. Because adoption is rooted in loss. That’s a fact. But, don’t fear feeling the loss. You see, loss does leave space for something new to grow. That’s beautiful! Let’s honor both the joy and the grief. Let’s acknowledge both the pain and the gain. Let’s be real. Come to me anytime you need to talk, cry, laugh, or punch a pillow. I’ll be here. You’re safe with me. Always.
I see you.
I hear you.
I love you.
I say these words to myself. I say them to each of you, too.
More transparency in adoption. Less superficiality.
Onward to November,