If I had a dollar for every time I’ve fallen in love with the idea of a child entering our family, well, I would be a little wealthier. In the world of adoption, no one gives you an ultrasound photo. Instead, you get a referral photo. Or if you’re really lucky, a video. You look at the little photo 9000 times wondering what you can tell if you look really hard. What is this child like? Their smile tells me they’re shy, or funny, or a little naughty. How will they fit into our family? Will they fit into our family? You worry a little, but before you know it, you smile as you picture them in your home. All this can happen in a matter of a day. Just like you fall in love with the idea of a baby when you see that first ultrasound pic, you fall in love with the idea of THIS child joining your family.
Four times now, we’ve been lucky enough to have those dreams become a reality. Hopefully, soon, it will be five. We’ve grieved the loss of the idea of a child joining our family three times. The first time we were extremely open. We mailed out adoption announcements, a room was decorated, clothes were purchased. She wasn’t allowed to come home. We all grieved that loss. It affected our entire family. We had no other children, she would have been the first grandchild. It hurt.
The second time we didn’t tell anyone but the kids. We discussed the possibility of this little boy entering our house. They took it and ran with it, they prayed for him. They wanted another brother. They prayed for him every night. He wasn’t allowed to come home either. They grieved the loss right along with us. He was another partner in crime, before they even knew him. It hurt.
This last time we didn’t tell anyone. We wanted to add a child right after GhanaGirl. But, we’d told people before. So, we prayed about it, kept it to ourselves and just discussed the possibility. This child isn’t coming home either. At least, not to our home. It doesn’t get easier the fewer people you tell. It still hurts.
Adoption is all about the world seeing joy, the joy of a new child being added to your family, the joy of that child gaining a new home. But, there is private pain that goes hand in hand with all that joy. There’s the pain of the adoptive parents who fall in love with that idea and then spend months attempting to pray that idea into reality. There’s also the pain of the biological parent who has to watch all their hopes and ideas for their child disappear as they lose the opportunity to raise that child. There’s the pain of the child as they grieve the change of what is now behind them and what they are moving toward. It’s all hard. As an adoptive mom, all the losses were just as profound as the joy of the successes. I don’t wear the losses like a badge. What everyone sees is a happy, lucky mom of four. I am happy, and I am lucky. But, sometimes, it’s nice of people to acknowledge that adoption isn’t all about joy.