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.
It is true: adoption is both loss and gain. It’s beautiful and it’s broken. It’s a coming apart and then a coming together. Someone must exit for another someone to enter. There’s joy and sorrow surrounding adoption. It’s really important to acknowledge both—to hold, in tandem, the contrasting emotions and realities of adoption. If we don’t, we risk not being real. And, authenticity in adoption is greatly needed.
What do I mean by authenticity in adoption? Adoptees need to be able talk about the pain, acknowledge the hard places, and face the difficult questions. They need to be able to grieve in order to grow. Adoptees are very capable, with love and support, to hold both the grief and the gift—the beauty and the brokenness—of their adoption stories.
For a long time, adoption was made out to be like a fantasy story: the fairy-tale rescue of a child in need. Perhaps, with the best of intentions, this was done to protect the child. It didn’t, though. It only increased the adoptee’s sense of guilt and shame: if adoption is a beautiful fairy-tale, then why do I feel so sad inside? Is there something wrong with me?
Fairy-tales aren’t real. Adoption is.
Adoption is rooted in real choice. Hard choices. The consequence of choice. The desperate place of having no choice. The voice of this must be heard.
For me, it’s been most liberating to share my story and to reveal the many questions, along with the confusion, that adoption has presented to me. To yoke both the pain and the promise of adoption, openly, in order to arrive at a place of deeper understanding and healing.
Can it be challenging to hold in tandem the beauty and brokenness of adoption? Yes.
Can it be a little scary? Sure.
But, it’s essential that we do.
Parents, please listen to your children of adoption. Let them feel what needs to be felt, ask what needs to be asked, and grieve what needs to be grieved. Let them be authentic. Allow yourself to be authentic, too. In both my own adoption story and the adoption stories of my children, it’s been my experience that when we share—transparently and authentically—the messy things of this life, we expand our ability to see the miracles of living.
For me, holding space for both the messy parts and the miraculous parts—the beauty and the brokenness—is a delicate and empowering balance. It’s possible to hold in tandem the two. On behalf of every adoptee, it’s important that we do…