Adoption Isn’t Second Best

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My own childhood rooted me in the brilliance of the adopted connection. The special place that foster family played in our family was always common knowledge to me. It was at a young age, too, that I learned my daddy had not had quite the same place in my coming into this world as he did for my little brother. From the moment I learned it is one way families come together, I knew that my own family would grow through adoption one day. They were some of the earliest conversations my husband and I had in our dating days, “How do you see your family growing?” My understanding of adoption, our understanding as a family, changes as our own family grows and learns together. One thing never changes: adoption isn’t second best. No, adoption is its very own best altogether.

In my own adopted connections, I never would have imagined anything less than the most natural connection. I was simply one of theirs. We simply belonged to one another. Learning that we chose each other only made our love that much purer in my eyes.

However, as a woman and an adoptive mother myself now, I can label for what they are the moments in which my own heart was broken as a little girl (even having been reunited with all of my biological connections). To be chosen is as delightful as it is devastating to be forgotten. Our bodies refuse to forget the reality of our biological connections, as we recognize them in our very identities and witness them in literally all of life around us. This means something different for the individual, but what stands true for all of us is that to be separated from these biological connections is to be separated from a piece of ourselves.

We are capable of seeing all of these truths, both within the adoptive family and outside of it. For the health of the family, the individual, and even our community, it is vital that we do. Adoption simply isn’t second-best; likewise, adoption isn’t the whole of any story either.

While in adoption, we without a doubt see the new life that is a family coming to be, as we would in any biological birth, first, we uniquely see a family broken. The joy of new life can not fully be realized until the pain of the death of what would have been naturally is appreciated. I understand this more fully as I grow with our children, born to us both biologically and through adoption.

As there is space to grieve what isn’t, there is also space to celebrate all that is, all that never would have been, any other way. The bringing together of families, the sharing of traditions from one family tree to another and onward, the treasuring of a face you don’t see yourself in as well as the sparkle in their eyes that you most certainly do, without question- these are but a glimpse into all the best that is adoption. Broken chains and mended hearts, space in full for our wildest dreams, somewhere to land, somewhere to take flight, somewhere to truly be one’s self and belong, be chosen- all these things and more- together- these are the best in adoption. To be trusted as a mother with the very heart of another mother is as sacred a connection as one will ever know. You see, adoption truly isn’t second best. It is its own best altogether.

Adoptee, birth parent, adoptive parent- we each have our own place within the adoption triad and in life. We can not be replaced. We can not replace each other. We can not hold a space that someone else might have held. Adoption isn’t the whole of any one story, nor is the joy or the pain within it. Adoption isn’t second best. Adoption is all its own best. Wherever you are in relation to adoption, do you begin to see it?

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