Adoption Guilt?

guilt-07Adoption comes with complex emotions. Often, the emotions are consuming and misunderstood. One of the emotions that a lot of adoptive parents unexpectedly find themselves feeling is guilt. It can come as a surprise if you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with emotions that you translate as guilt after you have adopted. It is not uncommon to feel adoption guilt…

It is normal to feel a wide variety of emotions while adopting.  The emotions can change minute to minute, day to day or year to year.  Being empathetic to the other members, while keeping things in perspective only help us learn and grow.  To read the full article, visit adoption.com.

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Did You Feel Adoption Guilt?

guiltAdoptions come with complex emotions.  One of those emotions that most birth parents and many adoptive feel is guilt.  I think it is completely understandable (yet unnecessary) for a birth parent to feel guilt.  They may feel guilty for making the adoption plan, for not being in a better place in their life, to wanting more for their child and themselves.  But, at the same time, it is my hope that they also see the all the positives of why they are making that choice.  It can come as a surprise when people outside of adoption learn that adoptive parents may also suffer from feelings of guilt.

Guilt is a loaded word.  The definition of guilt to many people is that you have done something “wrong”.  However, I think these people are just looking at the word guilt differently.  While some may use the term “guilty” to describe the feelings they have for feeling joy with their adopted child, other words could easily be used in its place.  Empathy, Compassion, Appreciation, Affinity, Pity, Sympathy, etc.  It really is about the person feeling the emotion and to what degree they perceive the situation.  Some people just tend to beat themselves up more than others.  Some people rely on the good in a situation to thrive or survive through it. (Some people just lack understanding and feel entitled.  Let’s hope none of my readers are of that variety.)

When we were in the process of adopting, I went through a variety of emotions.  Guilt was one of them.  Guilt came in many forms:  Guilt that I couldn’t provide my husband with a biological child (or that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to).  Guilt that I wanted to adopt a newborn.  Guilt that I questioned my ability to parent outside my race.  Guilt that I was going to “sell” myself as someone with more resources for parenting a child, to an expecting mother.  Guilt that I would get to be called “mommy” by a child she loved so much.  Guilt that I would experience all the firsts.  Guilt that I would never understand how tough her decision was.  Guilt that I may not be a perfect parent either.

While Ezra’s birth mother is an incredibly strong woman, I know this hasn’t been easy for her.  She seems at peace and very proud of Ezra as well as her decision, but still, I am sure there are times that she wishes she could have parented him instead of placing him for adoption.  Ezra’s birth father has always shown more emotion when it comes to the struggles he faces with adoption.  He has always been extremely kind to us and never showed us any resentment.  He is always smiling when we are together and he is very affectionate toward Ezra.  These things just show me how much he cares.  Watching the yearning in his eyes gives me guilt.  It gives me guilt to know that we have the ability to give “more” and because of that we were chosen to parent their child.  It is very normal to celebrate success, but when it contributes to someone else’s pain it is more guilt producing.

Guilt in adoption hopefully fades with time as the open adoption relationship blossoms into a healthy, loving extension of your family. Understanding that these people chose you to parent their perfect little creation is something you should not feel guilt over.  But just because it is OK to not feel guilt, does not mean it is OK to feel indifferent or not want to help ease their pain.  Sharing an open adoption and open communication is good for all members of the adoption triad.  However, if you allow guilt to consume you, you may begin to suffer in other areas and your child will also suffer.

Have you experienced any of these emotions?

Adoption and Holidays

family treeI hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  We were able to go see Ezra’s birth parents and siblings on Good Friday since Joe was home from Chicago and we all had some free time.  We all had our own things going on for Easter, so it was nice to spend a couple hours hanging out and catching up, plus we got to see their new house! We are all getting together again on Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate and I had a little gift picked out for T for Birth Mother’s Day to celebrate all 3 of her children, but of course, I couldn’t wait that long and gave it to her when we visited.  (She knows I am terrible at waiting!)

A year and a half into our adoption, new things are constantly coming up.  I am starting to think a lot more about how I will talk about Ezra’s adoption with him as he begins to understand what it means.  Holidays bring the unique relationship forefront.  Having an open adoption and often celebrating holidays together with all our extended family, brings a different dynamic to adoption.  Also, things come up between us and his birth parents now as we all try to navigate this process.  I LOVE how open J (Ezra’s first father) is with us about his feelings on the adoption. He is so honest and addresses things so respectfully.  He asked us on Friday what we would like for Ezra to call him and T moving forward.  Obviously Mommy and Daddy are reserved for me and Joe, and although J obviously longs for that title a little with Ezra, he also knows that it would be very confusing.  We tossed around a couple ideas and landed on just using first names for how Ezra will address them, but Joe and I will still talk to him about who they are.  Ezra also has biological siblings.  Isaac is Ezra’s brother as far as Ezra currently understands, but there will be a time where Ezra learns more about his biological siblings.  They are a couple years older than Ezra, so they already have a slightly better understanding of who he is to them.

With holidays, there is also the involvement of extended family and friends.  Whether it is on the child’s biological side of the family or the adoptive, when everyone get’s together, especially the first few times, it can be awkward.  The beauty is everyone is so in love with the child, there is that as an instant connection and bond.  Sometimes it can be a little strange though for people like me, who are ultra aware of other people’s feelings.  I am constantly over thinking, protecting, being cautious, and trying to stay politically correct or comforting.  So, I may fumble over the introduction when introducing Ezra’s birth parents to people.  Or I may feel uneasy saying “Come to mommy” to Ezra with his first parents right by me.  I may keep a watchful eye on conversations and interactions with different members of the family. With time, these fears are easing as our relationship grows.  We all love him so much and we just have to show Ezra that we are all willing to do EVERYTHING it takes to make his life the best we can.

This year’s Mother’s Day weekend cookout will be our third full family gathering.  A few people from my family that weren’t able to make it to the first events will be attending, so I am not out of the woods yet with my watchful monitoring, but I am sure it will go great.  I know new things will continually come up as we learn to navigate and understand open adoption, but I am glad I have support and amazing people in our journey to help us along.

So, there are a few things I would love your feedback on? Comment below.

1. What holidays are your favorites to celebrate with you child’s birth family (or adoptive, if you are a birth parent)?

2.  Have you ever had any hiccups between your family and the birth family at events? If so, what happened and how did you handle it?

3. What does your child call his/her first parents?

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Happy 1st Birthday Ezra!

A Year of Ezra!

A Year of Ezra!

Wow, a whole year has passed… really?  It seems like this has been the fastest year of my life.  It seems like just yesterday that that little baby was still in T’s belly.  It seems like just yesterday I fearfully attended doctor visits with her and made trips to the hospital for amniotic fluid checks, wondering what day he would come and would she really be able to let him go?  I can’t imagine the pain she had, even knowing the choice she made was going to allow her the ability to give more to the children she was parenting and to him at the same time.  What kind of selfless love is that?  The strength in her and J’s choice astounds me.

So as I celebrate his day of birth, I also will be taking a moment to mourn their loss with them.  I thank God every day that through the miracle of open adoption I get to share him with them still.  They can see him periodically, text or call when ever they want, follow him daily with the countless pictures, videos and statues I post on Facebook.  I am thankful that when the day come that he starts asking questions, he will already know the love they have for him.  They hug him and kiss him and tell him they love him every time they see him.  He will already know them and his biological siblings, before he even knows how to verbalize his questions.  He’ll never have to search.   How amazing is that?

As Ezra has reached this giant milestone of turning ONE today, (*sigh, cry, weep, sniffle, smile, cry again*) I want to thank his first parents for trusting us and our family to love him as much as they do.  Not a day goes by that we don’t think of them.  This year has been such an amazing journey for us.  Our family has grown in ways more than just being a family of 4 now.  We have learned our strengths, our weaknesses and our endless love for each other.  We have watched this little, once helpless infant, learn to smile, “talk”, crawl, feed himself, test us, giggle, and now walk!  He now enters toddler-hood!  A new phase and a new stage.  Where has time gone lil’ man?

Happy Birthday Ezra Joseph! You are loved by more people than you will ever know or understand.  You are our precious little boy and the child that completed our family.  I love watching you with daddy and your big brother.  You are an awesome kid and I can’t wait to watch you grow into a young man just like I have watched Isaac over the last 12 years!

Stay tuned for birthday cake and party pictures.  🙂