Joslyn is a sweet friend. We were roommates for several years in college, traveled together in a band (not as glamorous as you might be imagining), and grew into adulthood side by side. If you know Joslyn, you know her huge heart for others, her contagious belly laugh, and her passion for life. She has a way of making just about anything fun and has a constant twinkle in her eyes. But more than anything, Jos has always had a heart for being a mama. All three of her children have come to her through adoption and she is an adoptee herself. Today Joslyn honestly and transparently shares some insights on the hurt and pain adoptees can go through.
I have a unique perspective. As an adoptee who has adopted, I get both sides. The only leg of the adoption triangle I’m missing is the birth momma.
Adoption is this amazing experience I have had the pleasure of knowing so intimately. It’s who I am. It’s my past and present and future. God gave me this amazing family who nurtured me and led me up in Christ. I was loved. I am loved. My family is such a gift. And now I get to love and nurture three souls that I have been hand-picked to parent through foster/adoption.
To say that this road is all roses and butterflies would be…untrue. And to be honest, no parenting road is smooth sailing. If someone claims that it is, perhaps they haven’t hit certain stages yet. Or maybe they’re lying. The truth is, parenting kids from hard places is both incredibly challenging and terribly sad. It’s hard.
So, in the essence of true transparency, I thought I’d write a little about the hurt and pain we adoptees go through. Please read this with no judgement and no “psychological answers,” because the truth is…it’s there. The older I get, the more I feel like one day (or year) it will go away, but it doesn’t.
And remember: this doesn’t mean we don’t love the life we’ve been given and blessed with. I’m just hoping to let light in to your adoptee’s mind…even if they can’t put words to it.
There are days when we’re sad and we don’t know why. Only to realize later that it’s because we didn’t sleep last night as we thought/dreamt/imagined our birth family and how life maybe would have been. Does it mean we want a different life? No. (For me, never.) But does it mean we wonder? Yes. We do. And then our feelings drift to why? That “why” will hang over our heads until we get the chance to ask the ones who can answer it, which some of us never will.
Birthdays are much harder than one would think. Not because we’re growing older. No. It’s because we can’t stop wondering if the proverbial “they” are thinking about us. Do they remember this day? What are their memories/feelings/regrets about this day? Or is it just another day for them? Do they remember? Do they miss me? Do they wish they knew me?
There’s a lot more guilt than we talk about. We wrestle with our desire to want to know more (everything) about our heritage/birth family/genes. We worry that will make our adoptive family think we love them less. We don’t. But we need to know basic things that most people automatically have given to them upon birth into a family. Let us explore. Let us search. Let us meet. Let us love and be loved by both of the families who made us who we are. Without abandon. And maybe help us along the way.
Don’t assume gratitude. This is a hard one for me to type. I am impacted greatly by gratitude; I believe we all are. But don’t assume that we should be grateful for the life we’ve been given. Especially in those teenage years, when all we search for is autonomy, sometimes all we can think about is how life would/could be better/different. Don’t say to me, “You should be grateful for the family you have.” I am grateful. We are. We adoptees are. But why should we assume that our life is greater without our “roots?” That’s a hard pill to swallow for us.
I look into my 3 kid’s eyes and I sometimes even admittedly think that. That I wish they’d be grateful for the sacrifice and love and hard issues we sludge through with them. But the truth is, I know they are silently fighting a battle that they don’t even want to be in.
And so in our home, we provide safety and (hopefully) transparency. We talk about birth family and birth parents as fluidly as we talk about our own. We talk about what could have been, what might have been. We talk about how all of our family has shaped who we are. We talk about how we have to choose which way to lean….how to pick the good parts of all of it and learn to be comfortable with who we are. We talk about how hard birthdays are. And sometimes, when relaying our conversations to my husband, tears are shed. Because I don’t want my children to know how I understand both sides now. I get them wanting their roots. And I also get me wanting to protect them from whatever possible harm there could be in their roots.
We celebrate big days (birthdays, adoption, etc.) with the realization that the only way our family can celebrate these days is because our child has experienced such a great and devastating loss. That can not be forgotten or left out.
Similar to life itself, great beauty rises from the ashes of hurt. And though no family is perfect, mine was perfect for me. I pray when my three are grown, they will say the same of us.
And most importantly, the beauty outweighs the hurt. Always.