Any time you decide to grow your family, it requires a tremendous leap of faith. When you conceive a child, you take a big risk in hopes that your pregnancy will be uncomplicated and successful and that your baby will be healthy, happy and born with ten fingers and toes. You hope the “good” genes will get passed on and the less desirable ones won’t make it into the mix. But you never know. Baby-making is a gamble. So many things can go wrong.
It’s the same with adoption. Only with adoption, in addition to worrying about the health of the baby and all that comes with that, adoptive parents have an additional concern. An adoptive parent’s leap of faith is more like a catapulted canyon vault of faith because none of it, is, ultimately, under our control. We hope our baby is happy and healthy, of course, but we also worry about the birthmother suddenly deciding our baby is not really our baby after all. Our biggest fear is that we will get attached to a baby only to have the birthmother change her mind after birth. There is always a chance that could happen, and that would surely be painful, but I try not to think about it because all I can do is trust in our journey. Living in fear of what could go wrong won’t do anything but drive me crazy.
For some reason, though, people feel the need to tell me the worst stories they’ve ever heard about adoption. “Oh, you’re adopting? Well, you’ve got to hear this horrible story that happened to my friend’s mother’s cousin… you just won’t believe how awful and traumatizing it was…”
At first, I listened attentively to these stories, and they would make me nervous. But I’ve gotten used to brushing them off and now I pretty much just tune out when someone starts to tell me one. (If there’s a glazed look in my eye and I seem far, far away, someone may be telling me an adoption horror story.) The storytellers are always well-meaning–I know they don’t understand what it feels like for me to hear those stories. Unfortunately, it’s just what people think of when adoption comes up. Maybe the only adoption stories they’ve ever heard are negative or maybe people truly think they are helping us by preparing us for the worst. But no one enters into adoption lightly. Trust me, on behalf of all pre-adoptive parents: your horror story isn’t news to us. We have already thought about the worst, many times over… and we have decided to do this anyway.
For as many horror stories as we have read or heard, we have also heard some really beautiful ones. More importantly, though, there is a little voice inside of us urging us on and telling us that it will somehow be all right. That this is the way we are meant to become parents and that if we are brave and strong enough to rise above the fear and negativity, we may just get to experience the love of a lifetime. That even if the worst does happen to us before the best, it will all be worth it in the end.
If you have told us a scary adopting story, please don’t feel bad. It’s human nature to want to caution one another, and we really do appreciate your concern. But we are prepared (as much as anyone can be). If the worst happens, we will handle it with grace and try again, knowing we are that much closer to finding our child. What will be will be. So, if you’d like to tell us stories, we’d much rather hear happy ones. There are actually quite a lot of those out there, too, and I bet they’re much more fun to tell.