If you scroll through social media or watch the news, you’ll most likely find stories of adoption. These stories, presented as an uplifting tale of heroism and bravery share the sacrifice made by a family to save a child destined for doom. They leave the viewer with that warm fuzzy feeling, inspiring hope and good doing. But, what these stores fail to acknowledge is the other side of adoption.
Adoption does not exist without abandonment. There is always a loss before a gain.
Too often, the complexities of adoption are forgotten, ignored or shamed. People want to hear a story of redemption, they want to feel uplifted and inspired.
But feel good doesn’t mean truth.
An adoptee always experiences abandonment.
Being separated from their birth family causes a deep wound of abandonment. Those in the foster care system experience abandonment every time they are enter a new home. Other children are adopted by multiple families, which only continues to reopen the wound over again. Then there are adult adoptees who experienced it when they are turned away from a relationship with their first families when in reunion. Some have experienced the abandonment and rejection from their own adoptive families, having been completely shut off from a relationship with them.
Adoption leaves adoptees with a life time struggle of dealing with the lasting effects that abandonment has on our psyche:
Abandonment tells us we are “un-keepable,” that we have to earn someone’s time or love. It is the best friend of anxiety and depression. It feeds into the fear of intimacy, leaving many of us alone and afraid. Abandonment preaches that no one will ever stick around, it’s only a matter of time before they leave us. It eats away at self-confidence and self-esteem, convincing adoptees that we will never be good enough.
This is adoption.
Adoption is not a greeting card; a feel good, inspiring quip. Adoption is a book with tattered and torn pages, a story of struggle and redemption, abandonment and complex emotions.
What would happen if you took the time to put the greeting card back on the shelf and pick up the tattered book? Read about the pain amongst the growth and acknowledge the loss adoptees have. Remember the abandonment a child experiences next time you see their story splattered across the television screen. Remember that although there may be beauty and inspiration, there most certainly is pain.
Because this is adoption.