Grief is a subject not spoken of too much when you first start looking into adoption. However, it is something that is at the very forefront of the process. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, and wanted to speak of the grief involved with every individual within the adoption triad.
The Adoptive Family
For obvious reasons, this layer of the grieving process was the first one I became aware of (and the one I have the most knowledge of). When we first started learning about the adoption process, I didn't consider any other grief but my own. I wasn't going to carry my next child; I did not have any control on bringing them into the world; I didn't get to hold Emme right away when she was born, and I never will get that chance again; I won't be feeling my next child move inside of me.
Me, me, me... That is the only thing I was thinking about. I will admit, we started this adoption because we are selfish. We want another child because our family plan was to have 2-3 kids. And on top of this grief, I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I can't give our family another child. It's not as easy as it was the first time, and I am not going to lie, this thought is the hardest one for me to deal with. With Emme we had insurance to cover her birth; with our next we have to take our savings and then some to pay for the adoption. All of this because my body could not handle bringing a child into this world. I have had recurring dreams lately about miraculously giving birth to our second, and everything was going wrong again. And my first thought waking up was "why do I always screw it up, even in my dreams..."
The other day I was talking to someone about this grief that I have. Their comment was "don't you think that once your child is home you will get over this grief?" My answer was "no". Not that I am going to be crying everyday over my grief through the adoption process. But there will be times where someone announces they are pregnant, and my heart aches because I wish I could make that announcement; or we discover a beautiful talent that our child has, and I start to ache for her when she wants to know where her talent came from; or she questions why her family chose adoption; or the dreaded words that I know I will hear someday "you are not my real mom".
The Adoptive Child
This is the next stage I started learning about (and I am still learning about), the grieving my child will endure. I don't think we will entirely know about this grief until our child is home and we can work through this grief together as a family. However I do know that our child will experience so much loss; loss of her birth family, loss of her homeland, loss of being part of the majority. We will be getting a lot of stares, being a multicultural family, so our child will know she is different from the beginning.
How will we teach her about her beautiful homeland, and not stir up emotions of wanting to live in her home country? How will she feel when she is a teen, and all she wants to do is fit in? How will she feel when she has to complete family medical information? These are just a small sampling of emotions we are preparing ourselves for. And like I said, we are still learning about the grief our child will endure, and we will probably never know the extent of it.
The Birth Family
I think about my child's birth family everyday. I am sitting here, just itching for another child to join our family. But I also think about the events that have to take place in order for our family to hear those words. In order for our family to grow in such a beautiful way, another family has to make a heart wrenching decision. The birth family will have to make a decision that I don't know if I would ever be strong enough to make.
To spin this around (because I probably have already gotten too serious about this all), I will cope with this grief. This is not the first time I have had to grieve, and it won't be my last. Does anyone really get over grief? No, probably not. But I think people find amazing ways to cope with grief, and that what makes us strong. I am not going to deny my feelings, I am going to accept them and move on. Because living in a world full of "what if's" is not where I want to be. I want to be in the present with my family, and watching it grow in a way that I never truly expected.
We will work with our child as she grieves, which may take years to work through. We will teach her about her culture, and we will find opportunities where she can part of the majority. One thing we will ALWAYS be open about is how she came into our family. We will make sure that our child knows as much about her family as we know. And I can only hope that we make her birth family proud, because they will be giving us more than they could ever know.