She said it better than I ever could.

Brianna at Just Showing Up is mom of seven, soon-to-be eight, as well.  Four of her children came to her through adoption.  She recently spoke about the trouble with adoption language, specifically the reference to “rescuing” children.  I like what she said, because I go back and forth too.

You will NEVER hear me say that I rescued my children.  It just isn’t me.  You will hear me say how fortunate I am that we are a family, because that’s the message I want them to hear, each and every time we discuss how our family formed.  Still, sometimes I do think they are blessed to have made it “out” of where they came from.

As for me, I live in the here and now, and so this adoption thing is a tightrope act for us, in how we conceptualize and discuss the whole matter.  My kids are not charity cases, they are not the luckiest people in the world, and we are not heroes.  At the same time, they are fortunate to be out of an orphanage where known perpetrators of abuse also lived.  They are fortunate to have landed at that orphanage, period.  They now have the potential for a long life that they simply did not have before, not as orphans in a developing country.  My two daughters with Down syndrome in particular have a shot at a safety within the confines of a family who loves and protects them.  They are extra vulnerable and will continue to be over the course of their respective lives.

And yet I still am not comfortable with the word “rescue” in reference to my kids–at the end of the day, I think that children deserve to kids, not kids that we pity or who owe us something.  But I’ll probably talk that way sometimes about the many orphans still living without families, who are being drugged, abused, neglected or deposited into mental asylums to die.  Surely they need to be rescued.  And I understand why parents do elect to speak that way about their kids, if they wish, because in a sense it is absolutely true.  One of my kids’ birthmothers in particular saw it as such.  Which was awful and humbling, but it’s how she perceived the matter.

The language of adoption is difficult.  I am convinced that the ultimate reason why is that we are attempting to give words to ideas and situations that are painful, laced with brokenness, and rooted in the tragic reality of what happens when the fundamental building block of any society, the family, deteriorates.  The protectors lose the ability to protect, the marriage union (if ever it existed) is torn apart by death or poverty or divorce, and children are left vulnerable and alone.  Is it any wonder then that we grasp to articulate the situation?  Should we be surprised that there is no simple or ideal way to describe our child’s plight?

As adoptive parents, we of course don’t have the luxury of turning off the TV or computer and returning to sweet and simple daily life where the words flow easily.  We must instead continue muddling through that complex web of issues I keep talking about, even if our own family is presently free of death, disease and dissolution.  Because those things remain part of our child’s story, and as such are now part of our daily vocabulary.  Even if we fail to find just the right words to describe it all.

who knows it really is complicated.

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