Bitter Sweet

Loss in Adoption

You might be surprised at this, but all parties involved in an adoption will grieve some form of loss during the process.  I know!!  How can there be grieving in adoption?  Believe me, adoption is a beautiful and positive thing. But like I stated before, “Adoption isn’t always the pretty pictures plastered all over Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.”  There is real grief, real loss, and real emotions.

At some point in time, the typical family, will experience some sort of grief as they continue through their journey called life.  It may be death of a loved one, job loss, switching schools, moving to a new town, or even losing a pet.  Loss in adoption is quite different.   It can feel like a small hill or like climbing Mt. Everest.  Just like no family is the same, no adoption is the same and that I can say for sure.

There are many forms of loss within adoption, just like in our journey called life.  One of the saddest parts is that the loss in adoption may sometimes go unacknowledged and unheard.  Unlike death, where there is a funeral, there is no final closure for the loss of  an adoptive child in the process of adoption.

“Adopting one child will not change the world.  But for that one child, it will change the world forever.” – Unknown

You see, it’s not easy.  It’s not easy for the birth parents, it’s not easy for the adoptive parents, and it’s not easy for the child or children either.  Imagine this scene (And I tear up just thinking of this.)

In one hospital room you have the adoptive parents anxiously waiting the birth of their child.  They might be nervous, excited, and probably really happy.  In the other room are the birth parents or maybe just the birth mom.  She might not have any support from a significant other or family members.  She just gave birth to a healthy baby and is now saying goodbye to her new born.  She will grieve the loss, which may feel similar to death, of her newborn child.  The adoptive parents can’t help but be happy holding their new addition, but they too, know the grief the birth parents are experiencing.  Because they may have struggled with infertility, maybe even miscarriage.  Maybe they struggled for a for a short time or maybe many years.  You see, loss is woven throughout the process of adoption.

Now picture the reverse.

In one hospital room you have the adoptive parents anxiously waiting the birth of their child.  They might be nervous, excited, and probably really happy.  In the other room are the birth parents or maybe just the birth mom.  The adoptive parents are excited and can’t wait to meet their new addition.  They have been waiting a long time for this moment.  That very moment they become parents.  Now the social worker comes in and tells them that the birth parents have decided to parent the child.  This is both amazing and devastating.  The newborn child will be raised by their birth parents which is phenomenal. And you can’t help but be very happy for them.  However, the adoptive parents have been preparing, what seems like years, for this very moment and now have to prepare to grieve.  This too can almost emulate the feeling of death.  Death with no closure.

Now in our case, our child, will experience multiple forms of loss.  She has already experienced one.  In international adoption it is somewhat common to take multiple trips.  We had to complete two trips.  The first trip was to visit and the second was to pick up.  At the end of the first trip, my wife had to say goodbye.  She had to leave our child thousands of miles away.  It will be months before we would see her again.  Now, reverse this and view it from the child’s perspective.  My new mom has spent a week with me, playing and walking around, and getting know each other.  Now she is gone.  Questions like, What did I do?, Why didn’t they like me?, Where did they go?, When will they come back?, or Will anybody like me? might go through their head.  The child may experience  loss during this time, not knowing if their potential adoptive mom and dad will come back.  

Our child, when we bring her home, will also grieve the loss of the caretaker she has had for the last three years.  Now that solid rock, caretaker, and loved one is gone.  Grief, similar to death, is something that the child will experience.  There is so much that a child has to endure during adoption.

The hard part with loss is that there maybe triggers in the future that could bring back all the same feelings.  This could continue for the rest of their lives in adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptive children.

Whether adopting domestically or internationally, some form of loss will be experienced.  And there isn’t a way to avoid it.


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