One of the most popular topics featured on those “feel good” videos that are regularly shared on social media is adoption. There is just something about the life-giving nature of adoption that is incredibly beautiful. Adoption can not only bring a tear to the eye of someone watching a new family form, but it can even change the hearts of those who have not understood adoption previously. When adoption happens for those we love most, it can clear up misconceptions, change the makeup of a family, and even spur calls to action for injustices throughout the country.
When we see adoption in media such as tv shows and movies, it is often shown in the context that a child placed for adoption is in need of rescue. The birth family is typically displayed as neglectful, dirty, cold, and heartless. The child is often shown as dirty and abused. While neglect does happen, many children who are placed for adoption have birth parents who love them deeply. The decision to place a child does not come from a place of not wanting their child or not loving them. Many birth parents are not substance abusers nor are all of them in poverty as the media might have us believe.
Adoption often changes these stereotypes and makes our understanding and love for birth parents grow. Understanding that, more often than not, birth parents are looking at the best interest of their child is enormous in changing the hearts of those who believe poor media stereotypes. I cannot count how many times people have been shocked by how wonderful their child’s birth parents are. This is largely the reason why open adoption is becoming much more popular. As these stereotypes are being shattered, people’s minds and hearts towards birth parents and open adoption are changing dramatically.
When my family first learned we would adopt, I remember being slightly discouraged at how unexcited they were. It wasn’t that they were not happy for us, however, they did not know what to expect. It seemed there was a bit of a fear that they may not feel the same for children who were adopted as they would children who had been born into the family. It was not a malicious feeling, just a normal anxiety.
I sat with my mother yesterday, watching my youngest son jump in mud puddles. We adopted him at birth and he has been the light of our life ever since. While he may not look like us, he is every bit of a member of the family. My mom noted in this moment that she has been worried about how she might feel once he came home, however she now cannot imagine life without him. Adoption changes the hearts of family members who may think that love only comes from DNA. Love is born in many ways and nurtured through time.
The Image of Family
My youngest two children have two moms. They have two dads and four grandmas. They have countless siblings, some of whom I am not the mother to, and too many cousins to count. Adoption creates families. That is easily understood by anyone. However, adoption is not the destruction of one family to begin another. Some view adoption as a “new life.” Yet, my children had a life before me. They had a family before me. Though they were adopted very young, their story began before me and should not have to end for my pride.
I did not understand before adoption how I would “share” my children. How do I bear to share the title of “mom”? Yet, she is their mom and her relationship will be very different than the one they have with me. It does not hurt me in any way that they have more people to love them. My heart changed as I understood the importance of letting their story continue instead of making it start over. Adoption should expand family and love, not break it to begin anew.