Dear Adoption, If We Both Have Lost
Isn’t loss what led many of our (adoptive) mothers to adoption? So frequently many of us heard about infertility and hopes for biological children prior to defeat, acceptance, and then adoption.
I was a last resort.
As an adoptee who grew up hearing about my adoptive mother’s infertility, here are my suggestions and insights:
- Infertility is none of your adopted children’s business.
- Please don’t ask your child to bear the weight of what you lost in addition to what they lost.
- Please be careful and avoid saying things such as, “we hoped for our own children, but God had a different plan”. In most cases this is not comforting. There isn’t really a conversation in which your infertility doesn’t make us feel bad or less than or like a last resort.
- Please don’t ask adoptees to acknowledge your losses (especially if you are unwilling to acknowledge their losses). Children should never be asked to acknowledge adult losses which led to their becoming a part of your family. That is not teaching children empathy. That is burdening children who already carry heavy loads.
If we both have lost in order for our family to have been formed, please don’t heap your loss on me. I can barely manage my own losses as it is. Remember who the parent is.
I am an adoptee who is infertile, zero chance at having a biological child. I hope to be a mother someday through foster-to-adopt as I believe that is the only ethical form of adoption. I have grieved and agonized over the loss of being a natural mother and creating life with my husband but that grief is mine and his to be managed privately and/or with other adults. I don’t feel entitled to anyone else’s children. I have never given to an adoption fund in order to finalize the separation of a mother and her child. I will never adopt a child through the foster care system unless I’m positive every effort has been attempted to keep biological family connections in tact. Please don’t read the above and assume I am insensitive to those who are infertile. I live in that sorrow each day. I wept and screamed every time the pregnancy test gave me the same, sad news. I have cried on public restroom floors while furniture shopping and at relatives homes during birthday parties for their biological children. I have opted out of more baby showers than I can count, not because I couldn’t endure them but because my friends all looked at me with that same we feel so bad for you expression while serving cake and punch.
I don’t intend to be critical of your choices. I intend to inform you of something you may be doing unintentionally.
Your grief from not being able to have biological children should never be carried by an adopted child. Your intentions don’t matter. I am telling you, as an adopted child and as a woman who is infertile, this loss and grief is not a child’s to bear but bear it, they will. If you bring it up, if you talk about how you wished for your own children and that’s what led you to adopt, your adopted children will bear what you grieve. We bear the loss and trauma of our biological families and cultures. We bear the money you raised/spent on us. We, adoptees, bear the weight of God’s second best plan for your family due to infertility.
Your broken picture of the family you hoped for, every dollar you spent on us, every hassle and delay involved in our adoption process, and every resentment and derogatory word you speak about our birth families/countries rests on our shoulders. We bear the weight of it all so please be more careful with us. Our backs are broken. We can’t bear anymore weight.
My parents were warm and loving. They were good people, but I heard about their shattered hopes of a (biological) family all my life and I bore the weight of those tattered pieces. I still bear it even as an adult. Additionally, as an adult I now wear the weight of my own infertility and it’s nearly too much for one person to carry but I won’t lighten my load by forcing it on another – a child – the way it was forced on me.
If we both have lost, perhaps you should bear your losses and I’ll bear mine.