Updated: Sep 24
Last week, I scratched the surface on the evolution of genealogy and the effects that autosomal DNA testing, social media and the internet are having on privacy laws as they relate to adoptions. No matter the law, not matter the state, people who want to find the truth are increasingly empowered to do so. Laws and signed agreements may prevent public servants from disclosing information without permission, but it's impossible to pass laws that prevent people with persistence from using deductive reasoning and technology to eventually find their truth from here on out. I shared a few ways that biological parents can prepare themselves for such an eventuality while maintaining their personal commitment to moral and social justice - doing the right thing for the health and safety of their child.
This week, I want to speak to the adoptive parents. I'll address the adoptees' perspectives in several consecutive posts, but before I do, the beautiful souls who face the unknown with enough optimism and love to adopt a child must come first. Each of these groups has unique psychological and social challenges to overcome, and I do not presume or pretend to do them justice with my own limited knowledge in this very limited forum, but I would like to encourage dialogue and maybe even discuss them with you personally.
The reasons that adoptive parents bring children into their homes may be myriad, but I think it is safe to assume that love is at the root. They want to love someone completely and unconditionally, and they want to be loved the same way in return. They think this through in detail which eludes some birth parents. They open themselves to inspection and criticism in a way that most of us would never consider for someone we've never met, and they invest themselves completely. To be sure, the same is true of many biological parents, but as I said in my last post - no one gets adopted unintentionally. My heart breaks for any parent, biological or adopted, who faces health, emotional or other psychological challenges with their children. Parenthood has a way of creating instant empathy. When we see a parent sweating it out with a child, we instinctively want to help - if only by saying a prayer- because on some level, we know how hard raising children can be. We also know that the emotional roller-coaster ride of parenthood is the same for all parents no matter how they achieved the title.
Adoptive parents also have a unique exposure, in my opinion. Sure, biological parents fret a little about the day their children leave the nest, but they expect that the children will come home eventually - at least to visit, raid the fridge, or ask for some cash. Adoptive parents also have the worry that their little ones may someday want to replace them. Oh, they may understand that their child will be interested in finding his or her birth parents, but that's not what they worry about. If they worry, it's because they fear that once found, the birth family will steal even more of what precious time they have left to enjoy the child they've loved and raised to adulthood. This fear whether it is expressed or not is present and real. For some it is a faint whisper that is occasionally detectable. For others it a constant drone that prevents them from enjoying the time that they do have with their children.
It's easy to tell someone to relax, to assure them that they are loved and that everything will be ok. I think they have to find peace for themselves in this matter. They have to acknowledge the fear if it is present, and discuss it honestly with their child. We all have to build our spiritual muscles just as we do our physical selves. When our faith is strong and our trust in God is unshakeable, fear can be completely displaced. Professional counseling is available, there are medications that can be prescribed for severe anxiety, but the only vaccination for this fear is a cocktail of faith and trust. Believing in oneself is helpful, but it can be misleading. When we think we've done all the right things and our children make decisions which defy our understanding, we ask ourselves what we missed. Giving our lives to our children - whether through biology or adoption - is like diving naked into a wilderness. It's great to prepare financially and academically, it's great to have a deep network of family and friends, but there's no substitute for the peace of mind that comes with faith and trust in God. It doesn't come naturally or without work. Tt's not something that can be turned on or off at will. The only way to obtain it is by actively researching it and practicing it.
What do you think? Have you struggled with issues of fear and abandonment as a parent? How did you deal with it? What can you share with others that may help them when their child begins searching? Leave a comment here, share this post with others who are interested in this topic, and give my page a like Facebook, please. Thanks for reading today, and subscribe for notifications of future posts. Next week, we'll begin to explore the adoptees' perspective(s).