This guest blog is by Lori Lyons , an adoptive mother and author.
Perhaps to the annoyance of my friends and social media followers, I celebrated National Adoption Month with gusto.
For probably the millionth time I posted the photo of my husband and me holding our newborn baby girl in front on an incubator in the NICU.
There was nothing wrong with her, mind you, it was just the only space the hospital staff could find for us that day. They had to make us a small space to visit our new child.
I also posted that photo to my Twitter Page, the one usually reserved for sports scores and updates as I am a sports writer by trade.
It got a few likes from players, coaches and fans alike.
Then I got a thank you.
A friend and fellow scribe, who also is an adoptee, thanked me for adopting my child. It caught me slightly off guard. Why was he thanking me for the greatest thing to happen to me in my life?
I didn’t do anything special. Oh, adoption definitely is a lot of hard work. It’s very time-consuming and it involves tons of paperwork.
We didn’t even have the Internet to help us. Well, it was in its infancy at the time and an ad on an adoption web site cost upwards of $100.
We didn’t have Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We did buy a few ads in a few newspapers and sent everyone we knew a letter detailing our search and our personal lives.
One day we got a call from a woman who got our letter from a friend of a friend. Just that was a miracle in and of itself. She got a letter. She read it. She chose us. She could have just tossed it.
Then, about three months later, we got another call. She was going into the hospital. She still was choosing us.
A few days later, that woman handed a beautiful, perfect, pink baby girl to me and asked, “Are you ready to meet your daughter?”
Eighteen months later a judge signed the papers saying, yes, we were worthy to be her parents.
And the last 16 years have been filled with love, laughter, silly songs, Sesame Street, Elmo, Disney princesses, tea parties, sleepovers, birthday parties, field trips, concerts, dance recitals, funny faces, hugs and kisses.
Over the years I’ve also gotten a few comments in the vein of, “She’s so lucky to have you.”
Let me say straight up: I am the lucky one. My now 16-year-old daughter is simply stuck with us, whether she likes it or not (of course, sometimes she does not).
Would her life have been different if she had stayed with her first mother and family? Certainly. Would she have been less lucky? I don’t know that.
Disclaimer: I am but one person with my own experience. Adoptees are human beings, so of course our feelings and experiences vary from black to white to every shade of gray. I cannot and do not speak for everyone, but will always stand up for everyone to have a chance to speak.
Dear hopeful adoptive parents,
I am an adoptee who has known the love born from adoption, not just my own, but also the welcoming of my own children through adoption.
We are a melting pot of adoption stories — everyone at our house, (even our sweet pup) has an adoption day, except for my husband.
I know that adoption covers more feelings and emotions than just about anything you have ever been through, but you are not alone. I see you and I know how much you want to do the right thing and your longing to share your life and love with a child who needs a family.
I see you…some navigating the heartwrenching feelings of infertility and pregnancy or infant loss and lovingly, carefully, redirecting your heart and plans to include adoption. All the while knowing it is not a 2nd best option, but instead a different journey with the same great love.
I see you…confused, trying to navigate a system that includes background checks, fingerprints and what seems like endless paperwork. I see you…spending Saturdays in your adoption
parenting classes, marking off your checklist of what must be done before you can share your story and a piece of your life with expectant parents who are considering an adoption plan.
I see you… longing to hold a child rather than a bulky binder of necessary adoption paperwork.
I see you…marking off the boxes of your agency worksheets, “What ethnicities would you accept?” and thinking back on the wisdom from parents who have been there, like author of Come Rain or Come Shine, and mom to three sweet babies through transracial adoption, Rachel Garlinghouse.
Would your family and community lovingly support a child of another race? Are you prepared to do all you can to incorporate a culture other than your own and provide all resources needed?
I see you…as you make these tough calls, already wanting the best for a child you have not yet met.
I see you…relieved your family and friends are so supportive of your plan to grow your family through adoption but wishing more people in your tribe knew what it really felt like.
I know your frustration and see the tears you hide when you are asked by the sixth family member at your holiday gathering, “How is your adoption going?” or “When are you getting your baby?”
I know it may make you feel different or alone, but you never really are. There are many other people who are or have been in the same boat as you and who will reach out to you and be part of your tribe.
I see you…pouring over the internet and speaking to your chosen pediatrician as you decide what exposures or medical issues you could handle and if you have the resources nearby to help with anything that is known when you get the call or may arise later.
I see you… accepting that the child you welcome will have a health history before you, and genetics you may not be able to unlock the answers to for some time.
I see you… checking boxes, ready to find and do what is needed for your child, no matter what it is, because your heart has already committed to him or her, even if you have never seen their face or held them in your arms.
I see you….desperately pouring over photos on your phone and computer to see what you have for your adoption profile.
I see you…wondering how you can convey so many things about
your life and yourselves and all you hope to share with a child in just a matter of pages.
I see you… wanting to be authentic and wondering if you are enough. You are.
The biggest bank account or house or most extravagant vacations are not what most expectant parents are looking for. They are looking for a life of everyday moments and loving memories and security for their child and that means different things to different people.
Please know you are enough and above all, be yourself. You, the expectant parents who read your profile and your future
child all deserve it.
I see you…wondering if you should paint the room you hope to be the nursery, wondering if you should let your friend throw you the baby shower she wants to, or if you should knot the blanket you hoped to make for all your children.
I know that preparation can feel hard with the uncertainty of adoption.
I see you…thinking “I may not come home with a child in the end.”
I know that is scary. Please remember that NO ONE — not even women who carry their own children — are promised that they will bring home a baby in the end.
Embrace the journey in ways your heart can handle. If you are not ready to walk past a nursery without a child in it but you want to do something, start a journal to the child you hope to welcome.
What a blessing it will be to the child you welcome one day when he or she reads it and sees that though they came to their family differently than many of their friends, they were loved, prepared for,
hoped for and prayed for before you ever knew their sweet little heart and that they were welcomed with a joy that exceeded biology.
I see you…worried what it will be like to speak to or meet with an expectant parent and worrying what they will think of you.
I see you…wondering if you must commit to having them over for every birthday and Christmas in order for them to choose you.
The truth is that expectant parents are human beings and will have their own ideas, opinions and hopes for their children.
The hopes expectant parents have for openness vary as much as hopeful parents’ so please do not commit to something you cannot follow through on.
The most important thing is to be honest—with yourself and the expectant parents you speak to.
I see you…reading and wondering if all the definitives you read in some books and articles about adoptees and how they can never truly be whole or accept you as a parent are true.
Hold on right there and stop reading anything to you that speaks in definitives. I have always been whole, happy and thankful for my soft landing in loving arms.
Other adoptees feel differently. Adoptees are individuals. The most important thing you can remember today is that there will be no voice on or about adoption than YOUR CHILD’S. LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN!
I see you…wondering if your day will ever come. I see your dreams of carrying on family traditions with a child and also starting new ones.
I see your frustration that you do not feel like you have control over the most important thing to you.
I see your hopes of getting a call today and sharing your first holidays as a family. I see your doubt and the feeling that each day waiting is an eternity.
Hang in there. I have known so much love in my life and my parents who I came to through adoption are my REAL parents.
Adoption was the way I found my forever family and grew my own family and I can tell you, though it is not always easy it is SO worth it.
Do you want to stand out among thousands of other parent profiles? How do you get an expectant mother to be drawn to your profile?
Sounds too simple to be true, but it’s as simple as that. Being yourself is the key ingredient to making your adoption profile shine.
Don’t say what you think an expectant parent would want to hear. Don’t play something you are not. Be the imperfect beautiful you that you are and she will take note.
I was given very little information when picking an adoptive family for my baby. It was a sheet of basic “stats” like age, height, and ethnicity. A handful of pictures, accommodated by a single page of what the couple enjoyed doing together and that was it.