The Sainthood of Adoption

Saint-Virtuous-Person-a

Saint:

“Virtuous Person: a particularly good or holy person, or one who is exceptionally kind and patient in dealing with difficult people or situations.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to talk about adoption in public situations, with acquaintances, or people that I meet at a social gathering.

I feel uncomfortable with the “sainthood” with which they bestow upon me.

Comments like:

  • “Wow, that’s such an amazing thing you are doing.”
  • “It’s so wonderful that you feel able to give homes to children who need it.”
  • “What a great thing you are doing for those kids.”
  • “You are such a good person.”
  • “Those kids will be so lucky to have you.”
  • “You are so brave.”
  • “I could never do what you’re doing.”
  • “They deserve a good home.”

I realise these are all well-intentioned, well-meaning comments. I realise that it’s a different, uncommon topic that comes up and most people just frankly don’t know what to say. I understand where the comments come from…

And I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life who care to comment at all really.

Still these comments make me feel uncomfortable.

I’m not a saint, and my motives for adoption are selfish. At this point anyway, before I become a mom and it becomes about the family we create together.

I want a family. I want someone to love every day. I want children to love and nurture and encourage and marvel as they grow and experience the world. I want to be a mom.

And yes, I want to give a home to children who need it, but again this feels – at this point – selfishly motivated too. Perhaps to somehow right the wrongs of my own childhood, to love and hopefully guide children to find and believe in the best of themselves. I want to be both mom and mentor.

I’m no saint.  Not any more good or kind or patient in dealing with difficult people or situations than anyone else. I know that my heart, my soul, my inner child, needs these children as much as they need a stable forever family.

There is a childless mother and a motherless child inside of me that needs these children to be in my life more than I care to admit.

There-is-a-childless

So those comments make me feel like a fraud.

“Wow, that’s such an amazing thing you are doing.”

Is it an amazing thing I’m doing?

I’m filling the void the childless mother inside of me needs to be filled at this point in my life.

Honestly, these comments make me wonder if my intentions are good, if I am really equipped to give any kids the life they deserve. Am I ready to give if I don’t receive in return? Is the void that I’m trying to fill even fillable, or is it something else entirely? I fear I won’t know the answers until I’m right in the thick of being a parent, and even then I may not know.

“They deserve a good home.”

Yes they do, and now I am questioning if I can live up to the image that everyone seems to have of someone who is adopting.

These are children’s lives, children who have been hurt, abandoned, crushed, abused, and scared. They do deserve a good home, no question about it – but ALL children deserve a good home, regardless of their start in life.

They all deserve a loving home with someone who has so much love to give them when they need it most and when they don’t need it at all. Someone who will be there for them unconditionally as they work through all of the trauma and loss they have experienced, someone who will never take their expression of grief as a personal attack, someone who is strong and compassionate, someone who is a mom through and through. They deserve someone who will always be on their side as the start to grow and blossom and experience the world in their own way, and they deserve a solid foundation of family, safety, and love. They deserve a home that will be there for them for the rest of their lives, always open with loving arms, uplifting, encouraging, and positive.

Every child deserves this.

They all deserve a supermom. The mom I dreamed of when I was younger, the mom that was Mrs Brady, and Samantha Stevens (she was a witch, who didn’t wish they had powers and a mom as cool as that?!), and all of the other super moms that I visualised and idolised, and wished with all of my heart were my mom.

Although, I can safely say that my mom was not the scariest example of home that I saw in my childhood. There were some examples of scarier homes in my childhood, and I remember feeling great relief when I was picked up to go away from these places. Places I was dropped for a night or a day or a weekend. Places which were dirty, with ants and other assorted bugs in the house, dogs roaming in and out, chain-smoking parents, and unusual or limited foods.

Were they respite? I know my mom fostered in my younger years, did she use those moms whose kids she fostered as respite for me? How did she know these people? Some of them lived so far away.

Anyway… back to the story.

Tonight I was at a yoga class and there were a few people there that I hadn’t seen in a while. One of them was now visibly pregnant. I said congratulations and asked her how she was feeling. She was overjoyed to be pregnant and excited about becoming a mom and talked for a little while about the preparations and the upcoming birth. I was really happy for her.

This was then the contrasting experience to the next person I caught up with that I hadn’t seen in a while, who gave me three of the above lines when she asked how “the adoption was coming along?” and I answered, “Really great, I’m approved as a parent now and feeling excited about becoming a mom when I have a match.”

And then the “sainthood” was bestowed upon me.

  • “You are such a good person.”
  • “Those kids will be so lucky to have you.”
  • “You are so brave.”

I don’t know. I guess it is a different situation. Pregnancy is different to adopting a child, especially an older child – but it’s the same too. It is all about someone feeling ready to become a mom and taking the steps to creating a family.

My choice is not conventional, but at its heart is the same choice as any expectant mom (or dad).

You wouldn’t adorn such a “saint-like” comment on a pregnant mother.

Imagine saying to a pregnant mom, “what you’re doing is wonderful” (although that would be appropriate because pregnancy is pretty miraculous), or “the baby deserves a good home” (kind of goes without saying don’t you think?), or “you are such a good person” (might be true, but not because she’s having a baby…!),  you see?

These comments seem out of place for an expectant mom situation.

People seem to make comments about adoption as though they could not imagine bringing a child into their own home and loving that child. As though they are saying that I am doing something miraculous that “any normal person” would not even consider.

It makes me feel really uncomfortable. Tell me, what could be unlovable about a child? Am I missing something?

“…good or kind or patient in dealing with difficult people or situations” –  As though I will be dealing with difficult people or situations… which may be accurate, and it may not, just as a newborn may be difficult or may not.

These are children, little human beings, who at one point were a newborn baby coming into the world to be loved and cherished. And who may not have had that start to their world.

Yes, my choice may not be a usual one, adoption is different in so many ways – I do understand that, and frankly I am sometimes very scared about whether I will be enough for these little humans who will need so much from me.

Please don’t add to my burden by making me a saint too.

Instead, just say “Congratulations, that’s wonderful.”

If you need to elaborate, perhaps ask, “How are you feeling about it?”

Adoption is another way to have (or expand) a family, it’s a way to become a mom (or a dad), period. Worth celebrating – you betcha! Worthy of a sainthood…nope!

We are not (I am not) “rescuing” children, or doing anything saint-worthy, we are becoming parents, we are just as scared and uncertain and excited and overjoyed as a pregnant person, we – the future parents – are the lucky ones.

Warm smiles and Love,

Ali Jayne 🙂

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4 thoughts on “The Sainthood of Adoption

  1. Hmmm, thanks for sharing this. I’ve complained as a mom about the comments that I get (particularly when I had my third). I guess you’ll never deal with the “how much did she weigh” and the “how old is she?” (unless you adopt a baby) but yeah, people make awkward comments. I admire the adoptive families that I know but I also understand that desire you talk about for children – that mothering instinct. Thanks for sharing and for speaking out about adoption and your journey – that helps more people understand. 🙂
    Bonnie Way recently posted…Snowdrift by Lisa McGonigleMy Profile

    • Thanks Bonnie Way,
      I hope that it gives people pause before saying something uncomfortable or inappropriate!
      But you know I never really thought about how birth parents also get bombarded with questions too… I’ve even been guilty of the “how much did she weigh”, I’m not even certain why I ask that except that I hear others asking and figure it’s the right question to ask…! So I really do appreciate that you mentioned this, it’s good to see all sides and keep myself in check as well!
      Thanks again 🙂 Ali J

  2. Your post really resignated with me, I’ve never felt comfortable with the sainthood either. The part that especially hit home was the childless mother and motherless child part. Described me to a T .. Thanks for sharing.
    Sincerely, A mom of 2 mini mes, 2 stillborn angels, 1 adopted cutiepie, and 1 sweet and loving foster. In other words just another mom <3

    • Thanks Lindsay for your comment.
      Thank you for sharing too, it always helps me to know that I’m not the only childless mother and motherless child… and to read that you have created a loving family! Gives me so much hope. 🙂 I would like a similar family unit someday…fingers crossed starting this year!
      I am sorry about your stillborn angels <3
      Ali

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