Obviously any discussion of adoption will be emotional. Adoption is an experience that cuts to the core, defining those who live it with its many trademarks – joy, grief, love, anguish, and more, all surfacing in different ways, at different times, and sometimes in contradiction to one another.
All of the discord I have recently seen has all made me wonder if there are any common truths in adoption, truths that hold across every similar experience. I’m not talking about the kinds of things we each hold in our hearts as truths for ourselves, like the love we express for our children or parents lost or known through adoption. Nor am I talking about statistical truths, the numbers of people believing one way or another. What I’m talking about are simple facts, indisputable, black and white. Absolutes.
And the only truths I can find are these:
- Adoption separates one family
- Adoption brings one family together
These truths aren't equal, they aren't two halfs of a whole experience. Everything starts with the losses sustained by that first family. No matter how happy that second family may be, no matter the love they share, it will always trace back to the losses of the first. Understanding that has humbled me.
I'm not talking about a self-deprecating kind of humility, I'm talking about the kind of humility that eliminates the need to justify one experience by invalidating another, or to label those with passionate perspectives as angry, bitter, or emotionally unstable. By humility I simply mean the state of mind that allows us - and by "us" I mean me and my fellow adoptive parents - to listen to, accept, and learn from the experiences of others, without judgment.
I think we could use a lot of this kind of humility at the moment, at least in my adoption world.