It’s my Foster Daughter’s LAST day in foster care.
Tomorrow she gets permanency in our home.
One more dawn.
One more day.
One day more.
The sun will come out tomorrow.
YOU BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR.
As an adoptee, I have been struggling with tomorrow’s happenings on a big and unexpected level.
For many reasons.
One: I watched her case from the second day of her life. I know her parents. I know their pain in termination. I know they loved her. As a social worker, I know, understand, and am educated on what led to their not being able to care for her. Part of it is a foster care system that did not, at that time 20 years ago, understand the brain and what happens to it in generational poverty and generational development. There are a LOT of “if only’s” in her suitcase of baggage she will have to sort out when she is old enough.
Two: I know what she faces personally. It’s not awesome when people say, “Oh, she will have you to understand!” There is truth in this. I am an adoptee. I will understand. But again… the fact that I will understand and that she needs someone to understand is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to me that I know more what it’s like to be my adopted daughter over my biological children.
Three: Guilt. I have so much guilt. It’s humorous for us adoptees to listen to the rest of you talk about the family guilt you have and carry around. Catholic guilt… Italian guilt… Irish guilt… Absolutely. Freakin’. Hilarious. I feel guilty for just being born! I’m an oops. I am a mistake. I am a bastard. I come from a line of whoopie daisies as my bio-grandfather was the result of a Nun and a Priest sneaking behind the baptismal. Guilt is a constant companion for us adoptees. We all have it because as a child your brain cannot understand that what is happening to you is not your fault. I still to this day struggle with establishing boundaries that most things are truly not my fault.
Four: Anger. Every adoptee also carries around anger. They may not recognize it as such, but it is there on varying levels. I am angry because I was placed in a position where I feel like I don’t fully belong in either family. I am angry because I still am continually lied to by one of my parents. I’m angry that the last time I saw my bio-grandfather, the one who helped make the choice to put me up for adoption, didn’t remember me. And when they introduced me and the veil of dementia parted slightly and he played out the past in his head… I saw nothing but regret and pain as he had to re-live my entire existence over in his head again. I saw tears well up in his eyes as he hugged me tighter than ever before. That was the last time I saw him.
This week I told myself I would feel nothing but joy.
My husband and I are adopting from foster care because we believe in ethical adoption. Adoption where there truly is NO other option. This child is very much an orphan. She very much needs a home and a safe place to land and we have been and will provide that for her.
But feeling Joy has been so hard.
Yesterday I finally sat down with myself and battled internally. I finally answered my own question as to how to handle what I am feeling versus what I want to feel.
Adoptees hold grief in one hand and joy in the other. Picture an old balancing scale. we constantly live with the grief and the joy tipping from one side to another. Some days we feel all the grief that comes with being adopted, and others we feel nothing but the joy.
I’ve always called being adopted living in the “in-between.” We are always “in-between.”
Adoptees live in-between joy and grief. We are stuck in the middle not knowing how to balance them both out because they are such opposing emotions. They are the ying and the yang. They are the + and – on a magnet.
My goal this week is to try to balance these two out. I’m holding onto my own grief a little too hard this week. I am experiencing secondary trauma. I need to acknowledge what I am feeling, but I cannot let it overwhelm me.
Because it comes down to this: I still believe in adoption. I still believe it is wholly and truly good when a true orphan needs a home. I believe when all other methods have been exhausted, there should be joy when permanency is obtained.
Was my own adoption necessary? Hell no. My adoption had more to do with pride, selfishness, shame, fear, and guilt. I did not NEED to be adopted. It had nothing to do with the abilities and assets of the parties involved.
Don’t get me wrong. I am madly in love with my adoptive family. I had an amazing childhood. I have amazing adoptive parents. The “negatives” in my childhood could have and probably would have happened to me no matter where I was raised. I am not necessarily “mad” I was adopted, I just have grief.
This morning I opened my devotional, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers and this is what it read:
“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others.”
NO. Absolutely NOT do I believe that God “ordained” that I was given up for adoption. I, however, do 100% believe he ordained WHO I would be adopted to. This week I will allow myself to find the balance and feel the joy of adopting our foster daughter. I will count it all joy that she will be loved, cared for, and yes… that she will have a mother who has walked this experience and “knows this pain.”
“This” complicated, messy, sticky thing even us adoptees don’t quite know what to do with called adoption.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow we will dance in the heartache.