Adoption means: “to take by choice into a relationship,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. These seem like simple words for such a complex concept. The truth is that adoption is so much more than just choosing to do so. It’s a powerful, life-changing event for everyone involved. Let’s take a look at what the term really means, from three different perspectives.
For the child, adoption entails losing his or her birth family and entering into a new family, usually with complete strangers. Most of the time, adoption is in the child’s best interests. However, we cannot forget that these children have to lose something in order to gain something else. Their heritage and genetic makeup will always be a part of them. They will grieve their loss, either right away if they knew their birth family or later on when they fully comprehend adoption. Typically, these children will come to love and respect their adoptive parents and feel a sense of belonging in their new family. They will also one day hopefully understand why they were placed for adoption and be reassured that their birth parents love them and always will.
For birth parents, adoption provides an alternative to parenting or abortion. Although many find it the best choice given their current situations, they will no doubt find the experience of relinquishing a child painful, heartbreaking and difficult. Many birth parents voluntarily choose to place their kids for adoption in order to give them the life they are unable to provide. Some lose their children involuntarily because they are struggling and are unable to give them a safe home and adequate care. No matter how it happens, birth parents will love, miss and grieve for these children for the rest of their lives. Many take comfort in knowing that their kids are in safe, loving homes. But that doesn’t make it easy.
For adoptive parents, adoption offers the opportunity to become parents. Many would have otherwise remained childless, so they see it as a precious gift and a blessing. It is a miracle and an answer to their hopes, dreams and prayers. Much like birth parents and adoptees, those who choose adoption to build their families have also experienced loss. Many have lost a baby through miscarriage. Others have lost the opportunity to give birth or become a biological parent. There is much emotion involved, both joy and sadness.
When taken together, these three relationships and perspectives form what is commonly called “the adoption triad.” Many of you are familiar with this concept and the symbol associated with it – a triangle joined by an overlapping heart. When we take a close look at adoption, we quickly realize that there is no other way to describe it. Adoption is more than just “choosing a relationship,” it is a joining of hearts. It is a coming together of struggles, challenges, losses, hopes, dreams – and most of all love.
Where there is adoption, there is always love. As you continue on your own adoption journey, know that you are about to become a part of something really complex, life-altering and incredibly special. Adoption will change your life. You will be forever connected to both your child and his or her birth family. You will experience a full range of emotions, and so will your child’s birth parents and your child. But what you’ll discover most of all, is that we’re more alike than we realized. We all have struggles and challenges in our lives. Though they may be different, we feel the same emotions. We crave the same happy endings. We seek the same sense of peace and fulfillment. Adoption gives us the chance to join together and make a difference in each other’s lives. It is truly a gift to be treasured.
Best of luck to you on your adoption journey!