Child

Are we hard-wired to desire biological children?

If you're considering adoption in conjunction with having biological children, then you may encounter the statement, "your child is so lucky to have gotten your great genes!" This statement has the potential to leave the adopted child in the lurch. Consider how the adoptee may feel at that moment... I grew up with seven other siblings (six of whom were adopted), thus only one out of my seven siblings was privy to receiving these genetic comparison comments. This sibling routinely heard, "you've got those striking blue eyes just like your dads!" My origin-less brown eyes watched this scene play out time and time again over the years. I began to wonder why people's go-to comments when making small talk is generally related to physical appearance and comparing that to the biological parents. When meeting newborn babies, the run of the mill conversation usually settles around physical appearance and which parent the child resembles more. Is this a simple culturally polite conversation starter, or something more?

Ang and Sandy
Ang and Sandy

It wasn't until I searched for (and found) my biological family at the age of 26 that I began hearing these social niceties for the first time. I'll admit, the fact that my birth father and I resemble each other so closely, does hold a special place in my heart and I'm not sure why. Even though my birth father and I don't know each other very well, I do feel an extra flutter of connectedness when people look at our picture and comment "you and your birth-dad have the same smile!" This makes me wonder, do I feel this way because I've waited for 26 years to hear this, or is this a comment that we are all hard-wired to hear and enjoy?

In the same way that humans may be genetically predisposed to show empathy, to tend towards social altruism, or have an inborn belief in a higher spiritual being, are we also hard wired to desire biological children?

I've always wanted to adopt, but...

"I've always wanted to adopt, but...I think I'll have my own {biological} child first.

We live in a  culture that places much significance and importance on appearance thus I understand the logic of this comment and the desire to build a family where the genes and biology match. However, when an adoptee hears the statement "I really want to adopt, but I want to have my own children first..." it sounds similar to how many of us order our meal at a restaurant: "The special sounds good, but I think I'll order the usual this time." While our taste buds long for the explosion of unusual and interesting flavors, we often stick with the familiar. No surprises (though we tend to forget biological children come with many surprises too!).

As thousands of beautiful children wait for their forever home, I'm grateful they aren't hearing all of the people in the world who are continuously uttering the phrase "I really want to adopt, but..." I'm thankful that they aren't hearing that they are unwanted at the current moment because even though they were born with a story and a purpose in this life that it is just too risky accepting someone with a different genetic makeup. An adoptee can't help but wonder, forever, what's wrong with me, was I born defective? Is biological-ness that much better?

As a wife without children currently, my husband and I have had and continue to have this very conversation. From our point of view there are many factors that go in to building a family; career, stability, traveling desires, further educational pursuits, etc.  However, for the child waiting for a home, there aren't that many factors. They just want to be part of a home where they're loved. Only when I think about the children who need a home do I begin to realize that parenting and desiring children isn't just about me and having all of my wishes satisfied. It's about children being able to have a family.

How can our culture better support adoptees who are added to a family as a "back-up plan?" Or perhaps a better question is, how can we become a culture where adopting is a norm, an accepted way to build a family whether infertility is an issue or not. A culture where a child can have a family simply because they are a human life deserving of a chance to grow up, play, laugh, make mistakes and contribute to society in a positive way. How about a culture where we routinely hear people say:

"I've always wanted to have biological children, but...I think I'll adopt first.

Life and Death

In my line of work, I often get asked "What is so wrong with closed adoptions?" Well, the answer is, for some birth parents it's a lot like experiencing a tragic death, similar to a stillborn child.

I strive to educate people about the fact that whenever there is an omission of the facts, or we simply do not know the truth (about birthparent's reasoning for choosing adoption, or why a baby died minutes before delivering etc.), we tend to make things up to fill the huge void where there are so many unanswered questions (oftentimes, things like; I'm unworthy, the baby was unwanted or defective, or I'm a throwaway etc.).

Sometimes adoptive families feel as though life would be easier if they didn't know their biological parents, and that knowing an birth parent may aid in confusion in knowing who the "real" parent is. The truth is, the "real" parent is the one who actively parents, the person who takes care of the child, financially, physically, emotionally etc., however the birth parent is a huge piece of the child's identity and the child's life. There is simply never an advantage to maintaining secrecy for the adoptive parents' own satisfaction and ease or for any other reason.

Truth and openness always wins out. I have yet to hear of a scenario where knowing the truth was a hindrance or a misfortune.

I have known families to go through the awful pain and heartache of miscarriages, but never have I seen so closely the pain and anguish of having a stillborn child. This weekend I attended a funeral that devasted my heart, and completely restructured my thinking about life. The  funeral was for a stillborn baby, and not only the death of the baby, but the loss that the parents are experiencing.  The death of a baby is a profound loss. Attachment to a baby begins before conception, some parents read to their child, sing to their child, feel the child and fantasize about life with this child.  Not only have they lost a baby, but they've also lost the chance to see this child grow to become a living part of their family.

I can't help but let my mind wander towards adoption, and I have drawn comparisons between a stillbirth, and a closed adoption. In both scenarios birth parents go through excruciating pain in childbirth, and then are literally  never able to see the fruit of their labor. It's a tragic loss that deserves explanation, but in the case of a stillbirth sometimes there is never an explanation. People may never know why a death happened. In the days of old, when closed adoptions were the norm, this was a tragic loss of ever getting to know the life that you created and birthed.

To all, who hope to adopt someday please know that nothing the birth mother did or didn't do while pregnant with your child is directly related to their unique qualities, whether that's in the form of a disability or a superb ability. Whether it's Cerebral Palsy or super star athlete. We don't get to choose. And some people don't get to choose why they bear a child dead on arrival, or why merciless adoption caseworkers demanded secrecy surrounding the child that you birthed.

And, to all of those who hope to bear children biologically, we must know that nothing is ever a given. Every life (both in utero and out) is precious, and a miracle.

HUMANITY

The Haiti earthquake grabbed me, and the rest of the World like an angry storm. The horrific and catastrophic proportions of this earthquake left me and the author of the following poem unable to function. I have attempted to come to terms with what has happened and to make sense of it all, but I've found that the more important issue to focus my attention on should be how the World has responded.  

That's what matters.

Humanity,  has taken my breath away.

 

A child has lost her mother. A child is fighting cancer. A child is buried, dead, under the rubble of her own house. A child is buried, alive, under the rubble of her own city.

               …and the world has not stopped.

Facebook status updates include tasks for the day, drinks to be had tonight, TV shows to be watched tomorrow. Twitter updates share the ratings on new movies, where they’re going to eat, what they’re going to rock.

               …the world has not stopped.

Traffic will still greet me tomorrow, as we go on with our day.  Children will still come to the gym where one membership cost would feed 10 families in Haiti.  Children will play.  Adults will work out, stroking their vanity.

               …because the world will not stop.

And yet the Haitian world was shook today.  Violently.  The terror rumbled through the streets, tearing down anything in its path.  Buildings. Streets.  Mothers. Fathers.  Children.

               …their world, it stopped.

I was once told that, when someone dies, God gives us the initial shock because we aren’t meant to handle all the pain at once.  What does He give us when thousands die…at once?  Where is He?  Is He crying in the streets of Port-Au-Prince?  Is He crushed beneath the ruins of a country?  Is He sleeping beside the concrete piles?

               …did His world stop?

City walls.  Broken.  Homes.  Broken.  Families.  Broken.  Life.  Broken.  A people group.  Broken.  Hearts.  Broken.  The World.  Are we broken?  Broken for the sake of another human life?  Broken for the devastation of a nation?  Broken for the destruction of thousands of families, millions of children?  Are we broken?

Tonight, my world hasn’t stopped.  The minute hand still moves every 60 seconds, taunting me.  This shelter, protecting me, provokes an emptiness.  These clothes, surrounding me, infuriate me.  The cupboards, stalked full, make me nauseous.  The human still awake, dancing to his music, evokes rage within me.  The world should be stopping.  And yet, it moves on…seemingly untainted.

And I move on,  powerless against it. I move on, broken. I move on, hurt. I move on, angry. I move on, confused. I move on, unsettled. I move on, hardened, refusing to be resilient. For I stand against the notion that one person, one family, one community, one city, one country, will recoil back into the same shape after having been compressed.

 

I am moved to tears by the strength of my dear friend who wrote this. I am also moved to tears by the millions of people who are doing the helping people, and loving on others every second somewhere in the World. In the midst of sadness we need to be reminded that there are great people in this world, working very hard for justice.