Friday, December 3, 2010

What I've Learned...

Today TM did a post on what she has learned as an adoptive parent. It's worth a read if you are touched by adoption or know someone that is.

It is so close to exactly what I would write also. But I must say we had an agency that did a really good job of cluing us in on what it was going to be like and the bigger issues of adoption that so many agencies did NOT cover.

Even with the best training I don't think you can really "get it" though until you have walked a mile in those shoes. Because head knowledge and heart knowledge are not the same things. To give an example, think of kids that grow up in Christian homes. You can take your kids to church every Sunday and they can learn all about your religion all growing up....but until they have the relationship, its just head knowledge. They aren't "Christian" until they develop that relationship with God THEMSELVES.

So - back to TM's post. She asks what we have learned. First I want to comment on some of her lessons as they are so right-on with the ones I've learned also:

On being color blind........seriously, that is the most insulting thing you can do to a person. To ignore the most visual part of who a person is???? Totally implies you are overlooking a flaw. If you have to be've got an issue.

On the complication of living adoption issues for all our lives......amen sister. This last month grandma was here helping out. One day Mighty Mouse was very rude and mean to her sister and grandma stepped in and reprimanded. Well, she did it in a way that destroyed my baby (not intentionally). So when mom asks me how she messed up so it wouldn't happen again we had to remind her the MM does not have any faith that we will be here tomorrow. She's constantly waiting to see when she's going to loose everything she knows...again. And mom long is this going to go on? We had to tell her....FOREVER. She was totally shocked. Like being adopted means everything else is fixed and goes away. No, its a daily reality.

Children are just on loan to us. THE BIG ONE. We are here to teach and guide but they are not puppets on a string. They aren't "mini-me's".

And as a mom of two kids prior to adopting....I have some more to add to TM's awesome list:

Telling a mother that your child will eat what's put on their plate if they get hungry a joke. Congrats for having kids that will do so. I had two and lived this creed. I was so stupid. Ever stop to think that "your way" is not always best for the kid at hand?? I didn't until I adopted.

Thinking an infant does not belong in the bedroom is oh so American. Seriously - most of the world does not separate infants from their mothers at night. And they DO learn to sleep in their own rooms at an appropriate age. And that self soothing and learning to put themselves back to sleep on their GREAT for that child you gave birth to with no complications.....but when you are trying to teach a child to rely on you.....the sleeping together can be an important bonding step. Because you see with an adopted child....THERE IS NO NATURAL BOND. You have to WORK for it. Work hard.

Bonding with babies/children is totally misunderstood by the majority of the population.

For my white-bread children growing up in my home....having a sister of a different race has taught them racism in a way that only living it can. They have learned so much. And my middle child has become quite the little scrapper over race issues in her group of friends. She calls people out in discussions in her high school classes. She argues issues like a pit bull when people make inappropriate comments. And hopefully, anyone that adopts transracially has learned all kinds of things about racism that they never knew before - and become a voice against it. It's hard and disheartening. But my child is worth it. Isn't yours?

Being an adoptive parent has also opened my eyes to what adoption is really all about. Money. And the abuses and trafficking are still running matter what any lawyer or agency tries to tell you. Its a dirty business. And there are thousands of adopted voices out there telling us how wronged and hurt they have been by being adopted.

But most importantly....even after learning the real issues and abuses that surround adoption....I have learned that I still believe whole-heartedly in adoption. I won't stick my head in the sand and pretend its all hearts and flowers - but there are still millions of kids on this earth that do not have a home of their own. And my personal belief is that a home IS better than no home/family. Now, my idea of home and family has vastly expanded, but I do believe a loving family trumps birth culture and majority status WHEN THERE IS NO OTHER OPTION. Extended family, birth country, culture, majority status should be exhausted before transnational/racial boundaries are crossed -- but they should be crossed when there are no other options. And face it people...the governments are not going to come up with loads of cash to keep birth families together. Whether its right or wrong doesn't even weigh in on this planet. That's the reality. And working within that reality.....the kids deserve a home of their own over an institution or a garbage dump or being sold into a sex trafficking ring.

Each year I feel like I have learned something new. I don't always like what I learn, but who says I have to? I do hope that I continue to learn and grow and be the best parent I can for my children - adopted or not.

What about you?


  1. Great post, Autumn. I read TM's first and commented there about some of the things I've learned as a parent. And learning more every day.

  2. On your second point, somehow I knew this one intrinsically. Maybe because of my own issues...

    On Songbird, one more reason to be proud of her ~ I definitely am!

    And on your last point, I am so glad you have come to this pov. Even with American foster care being as good as it is, it is better for a child to have a forever home. Multiply that a million times for children living without a forever home anywhere else in the world.

    And I just wanted to take time to say: You are a great mom!