Adoption isn’t easy, and life isn’t fair, and that’s the gig.
Those are the thoughts that come to mind recently. In recent weeks, our staff has witnessed an couple’s adoption match falling apart, borne another birthmom’s grief, heard others’ frustrations about the process, and shared in someone’s agony at being unable to find the family of her dreams for her baby.
This has also a repeated refrain in the back of our minds as we listen to the pain of adult adoptees continually denied access to the truth of their origins.
And we are reminded of it, too, when we read the following reflection by one Abrazo birthfather we’ve known and loved for years.
Adoption Isn’t Easy
If People magazine had ever swapped the Sexiest Man poll for a best birthdad contest, surely Timo would’ve won it on the mail-in ballots– hands down.
Adoption wasn’t a simple choice for Timo and his then girlfriend, way back when. They weren’t always on the same page. They were barely out of high school, and not all their relatives supported their decision. But they were in agreement that adoption was the best choice they could make for their child.
And they knew open adoption was the only way they could possibly do it.
Timo faithfully attended Abrazo‘s birthparent support group meetings with his babymama before and after placement, and he was always the life of the party. Witty, smart and wise, he’s one of those guys that makes others feel good for just having spent time around him. Following the adoption, Timo and the birthmother parted ways, eventually. She moved out-of-state, and succumbed to pulmonary hypertension far too young, sadly. Timo stayed connected with his child’s adoptive family, ensuring that the adoptee has never not known him.
It wasn’t always easy. But it was what he signed up for, after all.
Life Isn’t Fair
In the decades that followed the adoption, Timo also did some growing up himself. He built himself a career. Found love with Emily and got married. Became the proud parenting dad of Fiona, a daughter he adores every bit as much as the child he placed. But then, that truth about life being unfair became his reality. (We’ll let Timo take over the story, using his own words from a crowdfunding campaign launched on his family’s behalf. It’s reprinted with his consent.)
“It never occurred to me that my daughter Fiona would only have a mother for 6 years. It’s just not the sort of thing you stick in your head and imagine. Last week, we discovered that Emily has non-small cell lung cancer, and it has spread to her lymph nodes.
When you get married, you enter into an agreement to risk waking up alone someday, and power through a shitstorm of grief. That’s the gig.
Emily apologized to me for leaving me and Fiona behind. I reminded her that one of us has to die first, and we have no control over who it is. That’s also the gig.
I also reminded her that we aren’t done here yet. Things are grave, but I remain hopeful. This weekend, we are breaking all of this down for Fiona.
Mothers are our connection to the Earth. I need to buy my wife and daughter some time, so I’m reaching out for help. I have no delusions of setting the world on fire. I’ve lined up two different oncologists to suggest how to proceed with treatment once all test results are in. I am tapping every resource I can think of to give Emily the best chance of beating this thing.
Currently, Emily’s pain is being managed. She will be admitted back to the hospital for a few more tests, observation and treatment. She will either come home improving, come home declining, or she won’t come home at all. Your prayers are felt and appreciated.”
That’s The Gig
Comedian Arsenio Hall once said: “I knew going in that being a single parent would be one of the toughest jobs I’d ever have. I’d been a talk-show host, actor, comic, and on and on, but this gig was going to be my defining moment.”
He was right, of course. Adoption can seem to be a complicated journey with endless rules and regulations. Daily life can feel like a monotonous routine disrupted by occasional injustices. Yet in the big picture, it’s how we approach each gig that cumulatively defines us.
Every person in any relationship inevitably knows their connection will ultimately be time-limited. (“Happily-ever-after” exists only in Disney fairy tales.) Some of history’s greatest love stories were also the briefest of unions. That’s the gig, after all.
Every parent knows that babies don’t stay little for long, that the job (however you come by it) doesn’t include a perfect set of instructions, and that the outcomes are not guaranteed. That, too, is the gig.
And this being Holy Week, we know that even the great faith doesn’t assure the simplest path. Sometimes, parades lead not to parties but to trials or losses. Prayers can be powerful intercessions, but don’t necessarily result in lasting cures. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, as the Bible says. Or as Timo would remind us: that’s the gig.
Hold It Together
So as Easter approaches, as folks all over begin to recover from the gig of a global pandemic and natural disasters and other crises, we ask you to join us in lifting Timo, Emily and Fiona (and their relatives by birth and by adoption) in your thoughts and prayers.
Let’s let them know they’re not alone in this time of turmoil. While we’re at it, let’s all go the extra mile to seek out anyone in our greater family that could need some additional support in this season.
Whatever the future may hold, let us help to hold it together. Because as the adoption community that Timo and so many others joined all those many years ago (and have since), that’s the gig and this defines us.