Grief in Adoption

by Cosette Eisenhauer adopted from China to the USA, Co-Founder of Navigating Adoption

Grief is a weird concept. I expect myself to grieve people that I know, family and friends that have passed. Those times it makes sense to grieve the loss of a loved one. I know them and I’ve loved them. I am able to grieve a person that I’ve met, a person who impacted my life for one reason or another. People also grieve when there are tragic events, a lot of times this come with knowing their names and faces.

Grieving my biological parents and the life I might have had in China is a weird type of grief. Grieving people that I’ve never met and a life I never had is a confusing type of grief. There is no person to look at, there is no name that goes with the grief. Then there is the grief and numbness when it comes to grieving the information I don’t know. Grief overall as an intercountry adoptee is a weird concept, it’s a weird word.

There has always been a void in my heart for my biological family. A dream of mine was to have my biological family at my wedding and as the day gets closer, it’s become more real understanding I probably won’t have that dream come true. The grief has been so real, it’s been overtaking. Sometimes the grief I have comes and I don’t even realise it’s grief until I’m struggling at the time. It’s the same concept of grieving someone that I know personally yet, there is no name, no face for this person(s). I never knew their voice or their lifestyle. It is grieving someone I’ve never met.

I’ve learned it’s okay to grieve, I am a human. Every single person has lost someone they know and they’ve gone through the grief process. People grieve in different ways. I don’t compare the way I grieve with the way someone else grieves. There is no timeline on when I should stop grieving. I might think I’m done, and then it starts up again.

You can follow Cosette at:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_c.eisenhauer_/ Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cosette-e-76a352185/ Navigating Adoption Website: https://www.navigatingadoption.org/home

Confirmation that we are born as adoptees

by Hollee McGinnis born in South Korea, adopted to the USA, Founder of Also Known As (AKA), Assistant Professor of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University

Like many adoptees, the only pictures I had of my birth growing up were the ones of me when I entered the orphanage around the age of two that convinced my parents I was to be their daughter and photos of my arrival to the U.S. when I was three. And so, I felt as a child I had fallen out of the sky on a Boeing 747, walking, talking, and potty-trained.

Being born was foreign. I had no evidence of it happening to me, no one to be my mirror to remind me, except when I peered into a mirror and saw a face that looked foreign to me because it didn’t match the faces of those I called my family, peering back.

It has been a long journey to know ~ and accept and love ~ that face, this body, who held all the knowing of my birth. The terrain of my face I carry from my mother and father, and my ancestors in Korea. Yet, the laugh lines, the crows feet, are all imprinted from a life filled with love from my family and friends in America.

After I first met my Umma, my Korean mom, she gave the above picture of me (on the left) as an infant that she had carried with her to my foster Dad, who was the director of my orphanage, who sent it to me. I remember my Mom Eva Marie McGinnis and I both shocked to see me as an infant with my curly hair! She too had been denied any evidence of my infancy.

Later, when I saw my Umma again, she told me she had curled it and had taken this photo of me. She laughed heartily about taking the photo and it was clear that it brought back a happy memory for her. I tried to imagine the moment captured in this photo: my Umma taking the time to curl an infant’s hair (I must have been wriggling the whole time!), the clothes she picked, finding a place to pose me. All gestures felt so familiar, memories of my Mom helping me sweep my hair up, hunt for a beautiful dress, find a place for me to pose (see junior prom photo below).

Integration is a path to wholeness, and yet for so many adoptees this is not possible because there is no opportunity to find birth family, no photo, no memory to trigger the mind to imagine and make meaning. And so we are left with a vague sense of knowing, of course, right, I have a blood lineage, I was born. But we are only left with the aging features of our faces and bodies as witness that we were birthed into this world like the rest of humanity, yet are prevented from having any truthful information about it.

So my wish on my birthday, is for all adopted persons to have access to information about their origins so that they can have the affirmation of their birth and humanity. And I invite anyone who feels disconnected from their origins, to know you carry them in your body. Your ability to look in the mirror and see your mother and father with the love, compassion, and tenderness you would look at a baby picture is the photo you have been always looking for.

You can connect to Hollee at Insta @hollee.mcginnis

Resources

Read Hollee’s previous share at ICAV from 2014 on Identity

Other articles written by Hollee McGinnis

An Adoptee’s Thoughts on Haaland vs Brackeen

by Patrick Armstrong adopted from South Korea to the USA, Adoptee Speaker, Podcaster, and Community Facilitator, Co-Host of the Janchi Show, Co-Founder of Asian Adoptees of Indiana

Today the Supreme Court will hear the case of Haaland v. Brackeen.

What’s at stake?

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and potentially, other federal protections for Indigenous tribes.

Per the New York Times:

“The law was drafted to respond to more than a century of Native children’s being forcibly removed from tribal homes by social workers, sent to government and missionary boarding schools and then placed in white Christian homes.

The law’s goal of reunification — placing Native children with tribal families — has long been a gold standard, according to briefs signed by more than two dozen child welfare organizations.

Building a Native child’s connection to extended family, cultural heritage and community through tribal placement, they said, is inherent in the definition of “the best interests of the child” and a critical stabilizing factor when the child exits or ages out of foster care.”

👇🏼

The Brackeens are fighting this law because in 2015 they fostered, then adopted, a Navajo child and they, along with other families, believe it should be easier to adopt Indigenous children.

The defence posits that “the law discriminates against Native American children as well as non-Native families who want to adopt them because it determines placements based on race.” 🫠🫠🫠

☝🏼 It’s not lost on me that this case is being heard in November, which is both National Adoptee Awareness Month AND Native American Heritage Month.

✌🏼 This case is majorly indicative of the systemic issues oppressing Indigenous communities and invalidating adoptee experiences.

White folks who want to adopt need to understand this simple fact:

YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

Especially a child of the global majority.

⭐️ Fostering or adopting us does not automatically make you a good person.

⭐️ Fostering or adopting us does not “save us” from anything.

⭐️ Believing you are entitled to adopt or foster anyone’s child is the definition of privilege.

If the Brackeens and their co-plaintiffs poured this much time, energy, and effort into supporting Indigenous families and communities as they have trying to overturn constitutional law, who knows how many families could have been preserved?

On that note, why are we not actively working to preserve families?

🧐 That’s the question this month: Why not family preservation?

You can follow Patrick at Insta: @patrickintheworld or at LinkedIn @Patrick Armstrong

Resources

Supreme Court hears case challenging who can adopt Indigeous children

Listen Live: Supreme Court hears cases on adoption law intended to protect Native American families

Challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act

How an Evangelical Couple’s SCOTUS Case Could affect Native American Children

The Supreme Court will decide the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act

Jena Martin’s article that looks at the differences and similarities between the ICWA and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption

Adoptee Fear and Vulnerability

by Oleg Lougheed, adopted from Russia to the USA. Founder of Overcoming Odds.

I missed my birth family.

I wanted to see them again.

But, it wasn’t possible anymore.

Instead, I had to settle for what was.

The phone.

Me, hearing their voice as it traveled thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

A voice that was filled with elements of fear and love.

Them, hearing my voice.

Reassurance of me being alive and that things were going well.

The wait between the calls was tough to handle.

Each call brought up many emotions.

Emotions I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

I wasn’t taught how to be with my emotions while living in Russia.

Part of me wanted to try something new.

I turned to my adoptive parents.

Yet, every time I’d turn my shoulders and open my mouth, it would immediately close.

I felt that sharing those emotions with them would make them feel less than or as if they did something wrong.

So, I kept them to myself.

Hidden, depths below the surface.

Invisible.

It wasn’t until some time later, I was able to share what I was going through.

The narrative that I believed in, making my parents feel less than or as if they did something wrong, wasn’t serving me anymore.

I broke down while sitting in my bedroom with my adoptive mom by my side.

Looking back at it, she played a huge role in helping me understand how to feel and talk about what I felt.

Her choosing to listen to me made me feel safe.

Her words after I was done sharing provided the much needed comfort and reassurance that was okay to feel how I felt.

Her curiosity in me and about me became a stepping stone in helping me feel for years to come.

For more from Oleg, watch his TedX talk, Overcoming Odds
Follow him at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @overcomingodds

Adoption Can Be a Psychological Prison

How do I start over?

The question echoes in my brain every day here in Hawaii, now totally away from the relations of my former adopted life.

How do I live anew as one person in this world?

I left my adoptee ties that were technically governmentally bonded relations that I had no control over as a Filipino orphaned child circa 1980’s. For me, they had been total strangers and I didn’t have any oversight or support in post-adoption.

As time went on for me, I wasn’t able to have the fortune to get to know my biological family as after my reunion in 2012 in the Philippines, I decided to go my own way once I discovered our language barriers and my inability to confirm any facts on them.

So yes, fast-forward to current times and it is Sunday, and I have relinquished my bond of my adoptive ties for various reasons, and it hasn’t been easy but for me, it was necessary.

This break action has been mental, emotional and physical. Slamming this lever down included making physically strategic distance by moving far, far away on my own to the Pacific islands in 2019, re-establishing dual citizenship to my birth country in the Philippines in 2021, and civilly sending a kindly written email to my adoptive parents this year after my adoptive brother’s jarring and untimely death.

Additionally, the extended adoptive ties I’ve noticed can also naturally deteriorate with time itself after years of peaceful but gently intentional non-communication.

What happens after you’re on this path of annexation, you wonder?

For me, I’ve arrived at an interesting intersection in my adulthood when I’ve sort of returned to a former state of orphanhood with no real station in life, no bonds, all biological history, heritage and economic status obsolete all over again.

Doesn’t sound that appealing, I know! Tell me about it.

The perk is that instead of being a vulnerable child, I am a 36-year-old woman living in Hawaii. I have rights. I am in control of my wellbeing and fate. I have responsibilities. I drive my own car, I pay bills, I have funds; I have a job and I am not helpless.

I can take care of myself. So to me, the biggest perks are in being healthy and reclaiming my life, identity and sovereignty needed over my own needs and wellbeing.

So quickly the adoptee bond can turn into toxic relations if the parents are narcissistic or emotionally or physically abusive.

After the death of my adopted brother, who was also a Filipino American adoptee and died of severe mental issues and alcohol poisoning, I had a stark wake-up call of how these adoptee relations were silently impacting me too.

And I had to make better choices for myself, I would be risking too much if I ignored this.

It is like leaving a psychological prison, I told Lynelle on a weekend in May.

After some reflection, I realized that as a child and having to make structured attachments from being displaced, this legal bond fastens.

And as a displaced, vulnerable child, I think one falls privy to co-dependency, the need for a family structure overrides even the need for safety for his or her own wellbeing, like if abuses arise in this domestic home.

Or other aspects might not nurture the adoptee, like when the child isn’t being culturally nurtured according to their birth country.

Or when the parents or family members are financially and socially acceptable as to meeting criteria of adoption, but possess narcissistic personalities which is also detrimental to the child’s personal, emotional, psychological and cultural development.

A child stays glued and psychologically devoted to their family ties through development stages and on past adulthood because the need for foundational attachments is paramount to one’s psychological upbringing and success.

And if these ties are in any way bad for the adoptee early on, I think these relations that were once saving can quickly turn into a psychological prison because you are truly bound to these social ties until you’re strong enough to realize that you have a choice.

And you can break out of this bond, this governmentally established bond, although possibly later on as an adult. And, with some finesse.

As an adult adoptee, from my experience adoptive ties that develop healthily or dysfunctionally, after a certain amount of time both types transitions into permanence to that adoptee. Adoptive ties mesh and fuse just the same as biological ties, once you’ve gone so long in the developmental process.

This adoptive relation is totally amazing when it’s good, like any good relationship.

The spin is that when there are issues plaguing the adoptive unit, which can be subtle, interplaying with the personality and culture of the adoptive relations, these issues can go totally disguised, unreported, and it can be toxic and the affects can last a lifetime.

From experience, I see that it is because the adoptee child is vulnerable and doesn’t know how to report issues in the relations, because the option isn’t even granted to them.

No one is really there to give or tell the adoptee child that they have these rights or options. When it comes to post-adoption, there isn’t much infrastructure.

Sadly, if dynamics are not supportive to the adoptee, in time, it can cost an adoptee the cultural bonds to their own birth country or the loss of their native language.

It can cost an adoptee their sanity and mental health.

It can cost an adoptee their self-esteem, which all bleeds and returns into the social sea of their placement or back out into other countries.

And, it can cost an adoptee their life.

On the upside, if the placement is good, it can save a person’s life as well! And it can allow this adoptee happiness and joy forevermore.

Each side of the coin both instills an adoptee’s human value and the toll the placement takes on every child who becomes an adult in society is also expensive, leading to exponential advantage and success in society, or potential burnouts.

For me, my adoptive placement was costly in the end. However, I was still able to survive, work and live. I was materialistically taken care of, thankfully.

I honestly think much was due to my own faith, offbeat imagination and whatever blind luck I was born with that all carried me through this.

Overall, this has been a total trip and my journey has been very far from embodying the traditional fairy tale adoption story.

So now, it’s time to do the hard work, an adoptee mentor messaged me today. But I can do it, we all can do it! It just takes good choices and regular upkeep.

Nearing the end of this post, I will share to my adoptee community that we have a choice especially once we’re of legal age. I’m sort of a wildflower in general, and a late bloomer, so I’m coming out of the fog and becoming aware now in my mid-thirties.

Yes, we have a lot to rear ourselves depending on the economic status we find ourselves in without our adoptee ties. But like other adoptee peer support has shared, you should not do this kind of thing by yourself. You can have support structures the whole time in this.

And yes, it is terrifying, because you will have to rebuild your sense of identity when leaving toxic family relations. As yes, it can be like rebuilding your identity all over again from when you leave them and start anew, as a now a self-made, sovereign person.

From a Hawaiian private school I work at now, I have come to find that cultural identity building begins in the present and it is built upon values, history, education and the wisdom of the past. Now that I have found a home in Hawaii, maybe I can learn more about it.

I will also be working on weekly goals that I hope to share to the community as I continue on this never-ending journey.

In conclusion, if you are in a good adoptive family, God bless your fortune and I have so much love and happiness for you! However, if you are needing to split away from the ties, like if your adoption wasn’t that healthy, then please know it isn’t impossible.

Professional and peer support is here for you, every day on your way to freedom. You can create your own sovereignty, it will just take work.

Read Desiree’s earlier post at ICAV: What I Lost When I Was Adopted and follow her at Weebly or Instagram @starwoodletters.

America—You Made It Hard to Be Proud to Be Asian-American

by Mary Choi Robinson, adopted from South Korea to the USA

As I sit down to my laptop it is May 2, the second day of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Awareness Month and I reflect on Alice Wu’s The Half of It I watched last night to commemorate the first day of AAPI month. Watching the movie with my daughter, I thought how I wished it or something like it had been available when I was a teenager or even in my early twenties. To see an entire film focused on the life of a young Asian woman on the cusp of self-discovery and adulthood would have made me feel seen and a part of the fabric of American identity. So while this month is meant to showcase AAPI heritage I am not in fact proud to be Asian-American…yet.

I am sure my previous statement will elicit reactions from disbelief, to shock, to anger, and everything in between from varying groups of identities. So let me explain why I am not proud yet, how America made it nearly impossible for me to be proud, and how I’m gaining pride in my Asianness. As a Korean adoptee, raised by white parents in predominately-white areas, I have always navigated two racial worlds that often oppose each other and forever contradict my identity. The whiteness of my parents did not insulate or protect me from racism and in fact would even appear at home. When I first arrived to the US, my sister, my parent’s biological child, took me in as her show and tell for school with our parents’ blessing. Her all white classmates and teacher were fascinated with me and some even touched my “beautiful silky shiny jet black” hair, something that would continue into my early thirties until I realized I did not have to allow people to touch my hair. Although I start with this story, this is not a piece about being a transracial, transnational adoptee—that is for another day, maybe in November for National Adoption Awareness Month—but to illustrate how my Asian identity exists in America.

As I grew up, I rarely saw other Asians let alone interacted with them. Instead, I lived in a white world full of Barbie, blonde hair and blue eyes in movies, television shows, magazines, and classrooms. The rare times I did see Asians in person were once a year at the Chinese restaurant to celebrate my adoption day or exaggerated or exocticized caricatures in movies and tv shows. Think Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Long Duck Dong in Sixteen Candles, or Ling Ling the “exotic gem of the East” in Bewitched. Imagine instead an America where Wu’s film or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Crazy Rich Asian or Fresh Off the Boat or Kim’s Convenience would have opened up for generations of Asian Americans. Rarely would I spot another Asian in the school halls. However, I could never form friendships with them, heavens no, they were real full Asians and society had taught me they were weird, ate strange smelly things, talked funny, and my inner adolescent warned me association with “them” would only make me more of an outsider, more Asian. In classrooms from K-12 and even in college, all eyes, often including the teacher, turned to me when anything about an Asian subject, regardless of whether it was about China, Vietnam, Korea, etc., as the expert to either verify or deny the material. I always dreaded when the material even had the mention of an Asian country or food or whatever and would immediately turn red-faced and hot while I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pant legs until the teacher moved on, hoping the entire time I would not be called on as an expert like so many times before.

My white family and white friends would lull me into a false sense of belonging and whiteness by association. That false sense of security would shatter when they so easily and spontaneously weaponized my Asianness against me with racial slurs during arguments. Of course, I was used to racist verbal attacks from complete strangers, I had grown up on a diet of it, but it especially pained me from friends and family. The intimacy of those relationships turned the racism into acts of betrayal. That was the blatant racism; the subtle subversive racism caused just as much damage to my sense of pride. As a young professional in my early twenties, a white colleague told me how beautiful I was “for an Asian girl.” A Latina student in one of my courses loudly and clearly stated, “The first day of class, I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to understand you and I’m so glad your English is so good!” And of course I regularly receive the always popular, “Where are you from? No, where are you really from?” Because Asian Americans, whether born here or not, are always seen as foreigners.

AAPI Awareness Month did not even become official until 1992. But anti-Asian sentiment in the US has a long history and was sealed in 1882 with the first national stance on anti-immigration that would be the catalyst for future immigration policies, better known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, coincidentally signed into law also in the month of May. In February 1942, the US rounded up and interned Japanese-Americans and Asian-Americans of non-Japanese decent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now in 2020 amidst the global lockdown of Covid-19, anti-Asian attacks, both verbal and physical, have increased to startling numbers. As recently as April 28, NBC News reported Over 30 percent of Americans have witnessed COVID-19 bias against Asians. Think about that—this is Americans reporting this not Asian Americans. The attacks have been worldwide but this report shows what Asian Americans are dealing with alongside the stress of the pandemic situation in the US. Keep in mind the attacks on Asian Americans are not just from white folks, indeed we’re fair game for everyone as evidenced by Jose Gomez’s attempt to murder an Asian American family including a two-year old child in Midland, Texas in March. Let that sink in—a two-year old child simply because they are Asian! Asians are being spat on, sprayed, and worse by every racial group.

To help combat this current wave of American anti-Asian sentiment, highly visible leader and former presidential candidate, Andrew Yang advised Asian Americans in a Washington Post op-ed to:

“…embrace and show our American-ness in ways we never have before. We need to step up, help our neighbors, donate gear, vote, wear red white and blue, volunteer, fund aid organizations, and do everything in our power to accelerate the end of this crisis. We should show without a shadow of a doubt that we are Americans who will do our part for our country in this time of need.”

My reaction to Mr. Yang’s response bordered on anger at the implication for Asian Americans to continue the perpetuation of the model minority myth. The danger of which, besides reinforcing divides between racial and minority groups, extols the virtue of suffer in silence. Do not make waves, keep your head down, be a “good” American. Sorry Mr. Yang, I am finally gaining pride in my Asianess and I cannot and will not stay silent any longer.

It has taken me my whole life to gain nuggets of pride in my Asian identity. Now I appreciate the color of my tan skin and dark almond-shaped eyes and no longer compare my physical beauty to white women and the standards society has forced on us all. For the first time I actually see myself, and all Asian women and men, as beautiful because of and not in spite of being Asian. I no longer avoid other Asians and cherish friendships with those who look like me. I love to explore the diversity of Asian cuisines, cultures, and traditions and continue to learn about them since, remember, “Asian” is diverse and not a monolith of just one culture. Now I speak up without fear of rejection or lack of acceptance when I witness anti-Asian or any racist behavior and use those moments as teaching opportunities whenever I can. I no longer resent not being able to pass as white. I am becoming proud to be Asian.

Read Mary’s earlier blog My Adoption Day Is An Anniversary of Loss

Poetry Reflects My Inner World

by Kevin Minh Allen, adopted from Vietnam to the USA.

I came to poetry late, but it surfaced in my life at a time when I needed it most. Poetry has always been a means for me to collect, investigate, and reflect my inner world, which has been undoubtedly imprinted with the indelible mark of adoption. The following poems seek not answers but to raise questions inside anyone who may be listening:

You can follow more of Kevin’s work at website: Sleep is No Comfort

My Adoption Day Is An Anniversary of Loss

by Mary Choi Robinson, adopted from South Korea to the USA.

This is Choi Soon Kyu.

She is about 4 years old in this picture and recently orphaned and sick from the ravages of poverty.

Before this picture was taken she had a prior life and was someone’s child, someone’s daughter with most likely a different name.

About 8 months after this picture on February 18, she will be delivered to the US, be given a new identity and family; a new life that is foreign, scary, and imposed upon her. Her name will be changed and she will lose her language and culture to new ones.

Her three identities, her three lives, are borne of trauma and loss. She is now me and I survive every day from all she lost.

Don’t tell me to be thankful or grateful, or that every child deserves a safe, loving family and home.

Instead try to understand that I carry this unbearable grief and loss every day. A grief that is not worse but unlike other grief that cannot always be easily expressed. A grief I’m not certain how to mourn and will most likely never recover from, that may have generational consequences.

Some days I struggle more than others, especially when unexpectedly blindsided by adoption.

So today is not just the anniversary of my adoption/arrival to the US, but also an anniversary of loss. But I’m still here and doing the best I can making the most of this life, so I’ll celebrate that.

If you’d like to read more from Mary, her Masters thesis is included at ICAVs Research page – Living a Parallel Life: Memoirs and Research of a Transnational Korean Adoptee.

Anonymous shares about Adoptee Anger

This is a series on Adoptee Anger from lived experience, to help people understand what is beneath the surface and why adoptees can sometimes seem angry.

by Anonymous, adopted from China to the USA.

I have experienced anger as an adoptee. For me it occurred in my late teens and early 20s in that transition time between high school and college. I was angry at my parents for adopting me and not putting in effort to learn or share my birth culture, I was angry at my birth parents for putting me up for adoption and having a baby they could not care for. I was angry at larger systems of poverty and inequality that put people in difficult situations. I was so angry at people telling me I was Chinese or Asian but I had no idea what that meant.

I was angry at Chinese people I met that were disappointed I wasn’t more “Chinese.” I lashed out at my parents and said very hurtful things to them about adoption. I also unfortunately turned much of this anger and toxicity onto myself and it negatively affected the way I viewed myself. For me, the anger was about being confronted with the understanding that adoption didn’t just give me a family, but also meant that I had one in the periphery that I might never know. I felt like a foreigner in my own body, constantly being judged for my race but not claiming that identity. I couldn’t process how to come to terms with the effects of poverty and the larger systems that led to me being placed for adoption.

I really felt anger as the onset of grief.

Now the anger has faded, and I do feel a deep, complicated sadness when I think about these topics. What helped me the most was reaching out and connecting with other adoptees. It helped me to channel and validate my feelings about adoption, see more nuances in the process, and regain a lot of self-confidence and self-worth.

As I have gotten involved with adoptee organizations, I’ve found solace, healing, and joy. My parents, while we’ll always have differences, love me and they never retaliated when I said mean things about the adoption process or them. From close friends and family, I was treated with compassion, love, understanding, and community. I think that’s what every person needs when working through these big, unexplainable things.

The Pope Shaming People into Adopting Children

by Cameron Lee, adopted from South Korea to the USA, therapist and founder of Therapy Redeemed.

Are we shaming one another into adopting children? Let’s consider the impact of that kind of messaging.

First, please visit @patrickintheworld for an organized dialogue on humanity – and how Francis’ words fall short in recognizing our intrinsic experience of it. You don’t need to adopt a child to fulfill your humanity. And not everyone who adopts a child is selfless.

Second, can you imagine adopting a child because you felt guilty or selfish for not adopting one? Please see my previous Office Hour With Your Therapist episode, “Is Your Marriage Ready for Adoption?”

Third, a pet is very different than a child. I’d strongly caution comparing them as if they can be switched out like car parts. Explore the hashtag #notathing and examine the fruits of such a commodifying narrative. Adoptees, from infancy to any age, need a kind of thoughtful and informed care that exists beyond the way we describe cats and dogs.

Fourth, as this messaging comes from a spiritual authority who struggles to meaningfully address the importance of post-adoption services, I urge us to continue supporting families in the church who have already adopted.

Despite differences in worldview, adoptees (and their families) need to know they’re not alone and they need help in navigating all the complexities that come with relinquishment, transfer(s) of custody, and beyond.

I’m in no way saying we should discount families outside of the church. But I worry there are adopters in spiritual communities who’ve entered this journey because of mis-informed motives (no judgment from me, I know you don’t need more of that!), and have found themselves in desperate need of resources and hope.

Lastly, it should go without saying, let’s continue to interrogate the conditions that minimize or tokenize efforts toward family preservation. I’d love to see more Christ-fueled initiatives to keep children with their parent(s) and kin.

Yes, the conversation flows beyond the scope of this single post. Please feel free to browse my account for more faith-related thoughts on #adoption – as well as the myriad of #adoptee voices on and off social media who have been speaking on these issues of reform and restoration.

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