Are you thankful for adoption?
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, in the midst of National Adoption Awareness Month, the best answer to that question is unique to the heart of whomever gets asked it.
For many people, adoption remains the broken road by which they got somewhere they never expected to be. For some, it may sometimes feel like a mixed blessing– and that’s perfectly okay.
Feel whatever you feel. (And don’t feel you have to explain yourself, either, unless you choose to.)
Being thankful for adoption depends on your perspective.
When you’ve worked in adoption for a number of years, you remember past holidays by the ones that were disrupted by other’s adoption plans. (Like the Thanksgiving you spent in West Texas after getting speeding tickets on your way to and from the hospital, causing you to miss the last flight back. Or that one holiday when you had to push away from your own family table to race to another out-of-town hospital for a newborn. You couldn’t stay for pie, lest Child Protective Services arrive and forever cut parents off from a child they loved but could not keep?)
Many adoptees do appreciate the sacrifices made on their behalf, even though they may also wonder how life would’ve been had they never been adopted. (Most understandably cringe at society’s expectation that they’re “supposed” to be thankful, of course.) Adoptees in closed adoptions have good reason to feel something (and someone) is missing in their lives. And those with failed placements or unsuccessful reunions have every right to bristle at any suggestion that adoption is something for which they “should be grateful.”
Adoptees who grew up with an open adoption may– or may not– feel thankful for adoption. After all, they’ve always known both their birthfamily and their adoptive family. That’s always just been their normal. And it’s all too normal to take what we see as our rights for granted. (We all do that, don’t we?)
A birthmother whose adoption plan helped her escape an abusive partner may feel very thankful her child could be adopted. Adoptive couples who could never have otherwise become parents due to infertility often feel very thankful for adoption. However, an adoptee who never felt they belonged in their adoptive family, who was abused, or who was denied the truth until late in life may not.
A birthfather who didn’t know he’d fathered a child placed for adoption may feel bitter about it. Birthsiblings who grew up never enjoying the advantages an adopted sibling had in life may find no reason to feel thankful for not being adopted. Yet birthgrandparents whose roles have been faithfully honored by their placed grandchildrens’ adoptive parents may be very thankful for adoption.
There’s ample room for everyone to have a place at Abrazo’s virtual Thanksgiving table– whatever they/you feel.
Here are some of Abrazofolks’ perspectives
This year, we’ve asked adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents how they feel. Are they thankful for adoption? These are some of their responses:
“I am Thankful. Adoption brought me my amazing son and afforded me the blessing of becoming a mother. Adoption has enriched my life beyond measure.” Jean, adoptive mom
“How do I say this? I have a good life. I have a family that chose to love me. I’m thankful for that. And I love them, too. To get this meant I had to lose the chance to grow up with the first family that loved me. I’m not thankful for that. But I still love them, too. It’s hard to wrap my head around sometimes.” Logan, adoptee
“We cannot imagine that our dream came true in such a wonderful manner. We truly believe that we were meant to find the child we did, and we will never forget that the most difficult of diagnoses led us to the most wonderful experience of our lives to date.” Michael, adoptive dad
“I am thankful I get to remain in my grandson’s life. It could not have happened without the marvelous staff of Abrazos. Thank you!” Patty, birthgrandmother
“All children of the world need hope. Abrazo saves lives. I couldn’t have asked for better parents for my daughter. I thank God for them.” Walker, birthdad
“I’m so thankful for the child in our lives, but after going through the process of adoption and being educated, I am not thankful for the system in place. I know there are no easy answers. In light of events of the past year, I feel like I am part of a process that reinforces white privilege rather than reaching out to give expectant mothers the resources they need to parent. And I’m not just talking about financial resources. Sure, white children are placed for adoption too, but if we’re honest with ourselves, the private adoption system is largely white upper middle class parents adopting minority children of low socioeconomic status. We’re not heroes. It’s an ugly truth when if we used the same resources for a different purpose, we could help end the drug epidemic, generational poverty, discrimination, and other obstacles that birth moms face.” Laura, adoptive mom
“Yes Im thankful for adoption because the family is wonderful n providing my child with the life I always wanted for my self but didn’t get there n had trouble, so adopting out my baby was something I dont regret.” Kelly, birthmom
“Am I thankful for adoption? I am thankful for the family we became through adoption. And, I acknowledge that, in a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t even exist. But then again, neither would infertility.” Karen, adoptive mom
“Open adoption gave me two loving families. I’m thankful for both.” Jayme, adoptee
“I’m thankful for our amazing daughter. I’m also thankful of the Abrazo family, I know I can reach out to them when needed.” Paula, adoptive mom
“I am grateful for adoption. My son has an amazing family that I can now call my family. I am truly blessed.” Katie, birthmom
Thank you, everyone…
Everyone in the Abrazo community would likely agree: 2020 been a difficult year for everyone! So going forward, let’s all be mindful of the need to really listen to and learn from each other. (And if you’re just not in the holiday spirit or you’re not feeling particularly thankful for adoption–nor anything else this year– give yourself a pass.)
Just know this: we’re thankful for you. Abrazo is blest to work with the very nicest of adoptive parents, and with the best of birthparents. We appreciate the enormous faith they put in us, while they’re waiting to place or adopt, during all the emotions of placement, and for months and years afterwards, too. The continued involved and support of our alumni means the world to us at Abrazo.
We’re not just bragging when we say the adoptees of Abrazo are amazing young human beings. We’re proud of each of them, and we’re grateful to continue to be of service, whenever they need us.
We appreciate the talents and labors of all our board members and our employees, past and present. We’re grateful for our interns (and particularly for Dr. Jan Faulk-Eggleston, who has so selflessly volunteered her time here for more than half a year now.) And we’re forever thankful for Clint & Monika of the Glenny Law office, and particularly for our beautiful new offices in their building.
Nothing about the adoption process is simple. It’s not the right choice for everyone, and adoptees rarely get any say in the initial decisions. It doesn’t always go as planned, and the adoption journey can often be marred by tears, unanswered questions and grief or loss. Yet truly open adoptions have the power to transform lives, and for everyone in the triad, not just the child/ren.
There’s a power greater than all of us that inspires the miracles we witness here, and for that reason, yes: we are thankful for adoption– and for everyone we’re blest to know because of it.