Oma writes a lot about her son, Boo. That nickname caught my eye because it’s one of many we’ve given to our son. For some strange reason, we’ve created nicknames for our kids in pairs: Boo and Moo; Bug and Duck; Angelface and Monkeyface; Goober and Goofus; Big Guy and Stinky. Some of these are horrible, I know, but there you go. To us, they're all terms of endearment, and so far the kids haven't protested.
Oma stopped by and left a comment on the post I wrote yesterday about a little tiff I had with The Boy on Sunday that got me thinking about how gratitude becomes so tangled up with adoption. Her question: I was wondering why you didn't tell him the truth of what was in your heart.
This morning I was reading a series of posts at Dawn’s – here and here - that you must read. They’re wonderful, for Dawn’s wisdom and for the discussion that followed them. But honestly, I struggled through the dialog and could think of nothing to add, save a lame remark intended primarily to acknowledge I’d been there and read. With every point and counterpoint, the only thing that kept going through my head was Tell the truth of what’s in your heart.
What’s in my heart at the moment is complex. There’s my belief that we – meaning first parents, adoptees and adoptive parents – can actually influence and change adoption for the better. From unbiased pregnancy counseling and support, to stopping unethical adoption agencies, opening adoption records, and improving attitudes toward adoption, I believe in my heart that we who live adoption can do it. Yes, I believe that with all my heart.
One comment in particular, written by a blogger I love, stopped me:
It is ironic that adoption makes more sense to me when it is done by people
just blindly grabbing at a baby, lost in fantasy, I mean obviously that will be
harmful for the child but smart people trying to do it “right” only brings into
sharp relief how truly bizarre/harmful the whole situation is.
I understand what Joy is saying, at least I think I do. When we adoptive parents step back from the joy we experience, and look at adoption objectively (at least as objectively as we can,) we have to say that it’s bizarre. It’s bizarre that we infertiles consider adoption as infertility treatment - and let me tell you, I truly believed the "win-win-win" of that for a long, long time. Or, how do we think we can eradicate our children’s pasts with new names, closed records and demands to be their one-and-only mothers and fathers? Sometimes I think the worst thing of all is the way we turn against the very children we’ve adopted with our “angry adoptee” comments in forums and such. Yes, when you step away and consider it objectively, adoption IS bizarre, no matter how hard we work to prove to the world that our families are as unremarkable as any others.
But what’s in my heart?
Well, this is a problem. Although my head believes every word in that paragraph above, my heart is telling me something different: I love my children beyond reason, and I love the family we've created together. I long desperately for them to know their mothers and fathers, and selfishly long to know them, too. I’m sad, incredibly sad, that the losses will be with them throughout their lives. I’m thankful that they’ve been able to work through the issues that adoption has presented them, to this point in their lives anyway. And I’m hopeful for their futures.
These emotions, even the sorrow, soothe, and make me want to run away from the adoption world, bury myself in my family, and protect them from the ugliness of adoption’s cold hard truths. My head and heart seem to have diverged, with each running along a separate track that leads to different, contradictory ends. Reconciling the two no longer seems possible.
But as I poise myself to run, my head reminds me that there’s work to do, and so I stay. I’ve come to realize that this impossible situation is at the root of my inability to say anything of value about adoption anymore. The hypocrisy of working for change and loving my children so much has become almost too painful to face. And so I read and think and feel, but the words stay barricaded in my head.