Every November: The Joy and Grief of Adoption Awareness Month

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.

Feel.

Onward to November,

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Every November: The Joy and Grief of Adoption Awareness Month

  1. I am interested in learning more. Our son and daughter in law have a foster baby with possible adoption. She is a beautiful little girl! It has been and continues to be such a roller coaster of emotions for the whole family. I would be interested in hearing from others who share this experience of amazing love and selflessness. For people who choose to open their hearts up and give freely, being uncertain of the outcome warms my heart. To know how to support them would be a great asset of the do’s and don’ts. Thank you for your blog.

    1. Thank you, Sharon, for your comment. I appreciate your interest and desire in supporting children who have experienced foster care and/or adoption. I’m also grateful to your son and daughter-in-law for their hearts for adopting from foster care. I’m sure their little baby girl is absolutely precious. You can read more stories of adoption and foster care at our community-based blog: The Quilt of Life. That is found at my website, michellemadridbranch.com. Just look for The Quilt within the tabs at the top of our home page. I hope you’ll join us there! ~MMB

  2. Michelle wow I loved this blog that showed up as a sponsored post. Id love to connect with you. I have an adopted daughter and nephew. I volunteered for 6 years at a pregnancy resource center and have a real heart for life and women In crisis pregnancy situations who have chosen life. In 2016 I sensed a call from God to write a novel that stems from my experiences, shedding light on the gift of adoption… the difficulty of adoption.. the importance of men responding with integrity etc . My novel… A life Rescued.. was published in the summer. I’d love for you to read it and give me your thoughts on it as an adoptive mom, advocate, adoptee. If you’re interested i could give you a code where you could download it for free. I’d love to have some exposure for the story amongst those in the adoption family to lend support, affirmation and encouragement. My email is kimmishler5@gmail.com. You can also visit my website kimraymishler.com. Thanks for taking the time to read this and consider reading my book.

    1. Hi Kim. Thank you for your message. And, my deepest gratitude to you for reading the blog and for resonating with my words. I’d love to connect, too. I’d also love to read your book, A Life Rescued. Please do send me the code when you have a moment. It may take me through the holidays to complete, but I’d love to read it and see how we might help support as we enter 2019. Thank you again!

  3. Thank you for the validation of feeling the loss in adoption. We have two children that we will soon be adopting. As I left the court room on the day their mom lost her rights I cried for her, and for them. I was so overwhelmed by sadness. I felt guilty I had prayed for this day so that my children could finally have permancy. Permancy meant loss and until that day I hadn’t realized that.

    1. Thank you, Deanna, for your words here. And, for your willingness to see that adoption is both loss and gain. Your sensitivity to this truth will help your children tremendously as they grow and as they move through the very real emotions that come with this experience. Thank you, again. xo

  4. Thank you for this from the bottom of my heart and soul, you see, I am a birth mother, I knew the second I spoke with the adoptive mother, that baby wasn’t mine, it was hers, it wa the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but I NEVER for ONE second regretted it, I knew her baby girl was going to be taken care of with all the love she could muster, and offer her the privileges in life I couldn’t. She deserved more than what I could have given her, she was a princess who deserved to live in her princess house with a caring loving home that never had to worry about eating, clothing, ballet classes, Girl Scouts, I wasn’t prepared, I was barely hanging on with my son. God gives us gifts in our lives that we have to pass on, they aren’t really ours, so we must give this gift to the person who it was really intended for. I will Always have LOVE in my heart for my baby girl and her family. Thank you

    1. Thank you, JoAnn, for your kind words. For your honest and selfless words. For the love you hold for your daughter and for her family. For the love and trust you place in God. I hold you close this November and every month. I’m here through the joy and the grief, the loss and the gain. We are a community of people who have been through so much. Yet, still, we love, we forgive, and we grow. Together. Thank you. Your words have moved me deeply. xoxo

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