By the time people usually hear about an adoption, it has been completed. This gives the general impression that adopting is as easy as going to market for parsnips. And for some, that is the case.

For most, it is not. For most, there has been a long, painful journey. Even close family members may not be aware of the extent of it.

The harsh fact is that for most people, adoption is a last resort, not Plan A. The ordeal may have included one or more of the following:

*Miscarriages, usually plural before adoption is considered.

*Multiple losses and broken hearts.

*Death of a child. Unspeakable.

*Failed infertility programs. Years, thousands of dollars, failures, lost children. At the point adoption is considered, a certain level of desperation exists.

*Irreversible sterilization. There may be deep regrets finally coming home to roost. If a new relationship is bringing up the topic, one may be again dealing with the loss of previous partners, and all that goes with that.

*Hounding from relatives about starting a family. Some of it is well intentioned. Some is vicious. All of it is a reminder to the couple of their failure to conceive.

*Infertility. All the babies ever dreamed of, and the possibility of having any, are dead. This does wicked things to a person’s self esteem, male or female. But men’s grief around infertility is rarely addressed. They tend to want to tough it out, not discuss it. They may appear less distressed because they have no monthly reminder of their failure to conceive. Our society doesn’t nurture boys who dream of parenthood. For some men, strength means emotional detachment. They often retreat into silence. A man’s very masculinity and sexuality is tied into his ability to procreate. He worries that his wife will think less of him. Guilt and embarrassment prompt them to over compensate in other areas.

*High risk pregnancy. It is usually a trauma during a first pregnancy that reveals that risks are high. It’s a lot to deal with, and often life threatening to the mother.

*Death of a family member. This may mean taking in minor children, and everyone’s grief issues besides. Natural children may form resentments, even if they know better.

*Criticism for single parenting, possibly in conjunction with sexual orientation.

Also to be considered are the saints who adopt special needs people. Going into it they know that mountains of heartache and damn hard work lie ahead. Financial responsibility is further down on the list. And yet they forge ahead. These people are healing the planet, and we all benefit.

By all means celebrate the joyous adoption occasion along with the parent(s). However, by virtue of your having read this, you are hereby commissioned to acknowledge their quest. Just a few words will do. “I know this journey has been long. Congratulations on reaching this point. We wish you much joy.”

Grief situations around adoption:
The pregnancy wasn’t planned.
You sent her away to have the baby, and were ashamed of her.
You were sent way when you needed people the most.
Some of your friends weren’t allowed, or didn’t want, to see you any more.
You think of the baby all the time, especially on the birthday.
You wonder what your birth parent was like, if he/she loved you.
You wonder why your birth parent gave you up.
You wonder why you gave the baby up.
No one knows how sad you are.
You had no idea how to make such a decision.
The baby is a constant reminder of an unpleasant situation.
You took no responsibility for the pregnant woman/child.
You wonder about that grandchild.
You’ve kept the secret so long, even you sometimes forget the child exists.
You want the child back.
When you get updates from the adoptive family, you get sad.
You feel you’re being punished for getting pregnant, and think you deserve it.
No one will talk to you about it.
You tried parenting as best you could, just couldn’t handle it.
It feels like that baby died.

We have work to do.

As ever, there is strong urging for you to find a support group with/or a professional counselor. Resources abound, and finances need not be a stumbling block. Ask your librarian, a clergy person, a social worker, or an adoption lawyer’s office.

If you were adopted, there are a few things you need to know.

Your birth parents were courageous.

You did not give them any reason to give you up.

If your birth parents reject meeting you, they don’t hate you. Chances are they hate themselves, and have not yet forgiven themselves.

You didn’t cause the bad experience your birth mom had.

There are few people in the U.S. who have not known of an adoptive situation. Can we finally acknowledge and honor those involved? Can we love the children? Can we alleviate shame and secrecy? It starts with you.

Blessings and peace to adoptees and their families.


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