Preparing to welcome a new child is one of the most intense, emotional, demanding times in any waiting parent’s adoption journey. It’s also when friends and family are likely to have the most questions! Keeping everyone in the loop can be overwhelming. One way to handle it is to write a letter. Here’s a heartfelt and inspirational example from a waiting (now adoptive!) parent, who shared her letter on Facebook.
Our family’s road is different
As we near the light at the end of the dark tunnel that is adoption, we ask with kindness that you please be gentle with us. This is an emotional time. Most expecting parents get to choose the name of their child, pick out their nursery theme, and decide whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, all while they wait nine months for the amazing day of their child’s birth.
That is a beautiful, joyful story and we are by no means upset by it. At the same time, the road to our child was not paved with a test with two lines on it, doctor’s appointments filled with fear and excitement, and that miraculous moment when you hear your child’s heart beat for the first time. Our journey was filled with paperwork, extensive courses, books, information sessions, and an invasive look into who we are as human beings.
In our story we tentatively debated if we could even buy a bed for our child. Should we? Can we?
The best, most awful thing
Our road has been filled with “what ifs” and with hearing one sad story after another. As we travelled this journey for two years, we even had moments when we silently accepted being childless. And then...
We were approved to be somebody’s parents. The parents of somebody who hasn’t been waiting, wide-eyed and blissful, for us. Somebody who hasn’t devoured courses or seminars or workshops or books about how to prepare for us. Somebody’s who’s been busy just being a little person.
I am sharing this in hopes that when we joyfully bring our child into our home, those around us will be mindful, kind, patient, and gentle with us as we stumble through being new parents.
If you haven’t experienced adoption you may not realize that joining our family won’t be an entirely joyous experience for our little one. We will be taking them away from everything and everyone they know.
It will be a time of grief, a time of mourning and of confusion. We’re about to simultaneously do the most awful and the very best thing for this child.
Our child is not defined by their past
Yes, as time passes things will get better. Our child will realize that we are their family forever and that we will never go anywhere. In the meantime, we need you to be gentle with us and to trust that we will share with you what we can, when we can.
We are new parents bringing our child home for the first time. We already have so many questions we can’t answer about our own child. We’ve missed out on so much: their first breath, first birthday, first steps, first smile, first giggle, every first.
Every first but this one: it’s is a very real possibility that our first experience with our child will be heartbreaking. Our child may not want anything to do with us in the beginning. We’ll need to be strong for them and allow them to feel all of the feelings their little body is too young to understand.
We may not talk about our child’s past with you. We may not explain the challenges they’ve faced and the ones they will continue to face. We may not explain our child’s behaviour if they act out and we may not correct them in the way you expect.
Please be gentle with your words and know we don’t want our child’s story to be defined by their past, their adoption, or their struggles. Our child’s journey is their own private story and that should be respected.
Children who are waiting to be adopted aren’t there because their birth parents were in a great place when they had them. They also aren’t there because their biological family didn’t love them. Children who are waiting for a loving family to wipe their tears, tickle their little feet, and read them a story at bed time—the same things every child deserves—are not “less than.”
Yes, most of the time these little people have already had quite a life, which means they carry some undeserved baggage. But at the end of the day they are still sweet, beautiful children. Their past does not define them, even if they have to carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
It’s going to be okay
So why the monologue? Honestly, because we haven’t even met our child yet and I‘ve already had to bite my tongue because of comments from others. Comments that, had they had read this, they probably wouldn’t have shared in their outside voices.
My hope is that the people in our lives will understand our journey and embrace our child for the beautiful soul that they are. We are by no means “so awesome for adopting.” We are simply building our family in the way that feels right for us. We may need to be reminded of that when we’re in thick of it and our world is upside down. We just need you to say “it’s okay,” and to be gentle and, most of all, kind.
Thank you for understanding. Much love from our growing family
Jennifer Magnuson is an adoptee and former waiting parent. Jennifer and her wife welcomed their now 5-year-old son home through MCFD 8 months ago.