Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Adoption and Loss
I'm a procrastinator. Sometimes. We have hours and hours of education that need to be done before we travel to Ghana, and now I'm trying to knock it all out. We are reading books, (Rusty can speed- read, and I can only slow-read; that's why I gave him the bigger books) doing online classes, and doing CPR certification. If you've adopted or fostered, you know the drill.
I did a class yesterday about adoption and loss. This is a huge piece of adoption that we don't talk about much.
Adoption is a beautiful way that God builds families. He takes little people who don't look like us and makes them our very own. Just like bio children, they are our babies, our kids, our most precious little people. It's magical.
We are excited! Adding to our family gives us much joy! Many people will say, "Ella is so lucky!" Well, she's no more lucky than my other children, or your children. We are blessed. God says children are a blessing from the Lord. We are the recipients of the blessing!
But adoption is a funny thing...in the midst of joy and excitement, there is grief.
The adopted child grieves what they have lost. They have suffered a blow, and we would be foolish, ignorant, even neglectful to ignore it. My little guys who came to us as babies, they will feel that grief at various stages of their development. There will be triggers that open the floodgates throughout their lives. Birthdays, "gotcha days", stupid kids movies that are fraught with adoption issues themes, (seriously! Kids movies need to come with a warning for all adopted kids! Kung Fu Panda- we didn't need that!) and even mention of anything related to their genetic or medical family history.
They lost a birth family. They lost a family who looked like them. They lost people they may never know. Some adopted adults would say the loss they felt was minimal, and some would say it was and still is intense. It's a loss that is necessary for what we all gain. But it's still a loss.
Adopting an older child internationally, I would think the grief is something we will deal with immediately.
She will need to grieve her birth family, her country, her friends, her culture, every familiar food, every familiar smell, everything she knows. It's all about to change.
Can you imagine more change happening at once? More goodbyes in one single day? More loss in one fell swoop?
I have to keep in mind, she might not be excited to get on a plane with these white, American, hearing people. That's perfectly understandable.
I am praying we can facilitate Ella's grieving. I pray we become, in time, a safe place to cry, to talk, to be angry, to share what she's feeling.
This is new territory for us. We are learning how to deal with adoption issues over time, as they arise, with our little guys. But we have never adopted an older child. We don't know fully what to expect.
I do expect to cry with our little girl when she cries. I pray we will be sensitive to loss, and welcoming to all things brand new in her world. I pray we will be patient, as she processes, adjusts, and adapts.
I pray God would give her a resilient spirit as she has already suffered what I deem unimaginable loss in her little life. I am praying for God's overcoming comfort to rest on her already.
This post is kind of a bummer, I know. Adoption truly IS beautiful, it's belonging, it's restoration, it's blessings!
But it all starts with a loss. And our God alone is the only ONE who can turn mourning into dancing, weeping into praise. We are praying that for Ella.