Monday, October 24, 2011

Adoption Snob

I'm a bit of a know-it-all.

I don't mean that as a compliment.  I know that I struggle with being a bit over the top and judgmental.  Cut me some slack - I'm working on it. 

One area I find this creeping up more and more is with adoption.  Now, I will never claim to be the most experienced parent in any realm.  But we are now 3.5 years into our first adoption, brought 3 kids home, all considered "older" or "special needs" children. On a good day, I'll even chuckle to myself and think we're kind of old hands at this. 


Anyway, back to my problems with judging people.

So, since we are a very visible pro-adoption family, I often meet people who are in the process of adopting.  Most have stars in their eyes, some show me cute referral photos. Others tell me about where they are on the "list" and I smile knowingly.  Inside, I can't help but think,

You don't have any clue what's coming.

Yes.  In the sweet moments where wonderful, loving people are sharing with me their hopes and dreams wrapped up in a mis-matched jumper in a poorly lit photograph, my dark side tends to jump to the negative.

Isn't that awful?

On the surface, I share the joy.  This isn't hard. There is so much to share.  All of my children are such gifts.  I was given those gifts in different situations, all unique and somewhat surprising. 

But with those gifts comes experiences that I could not have dreamed of.  I thought I was ready.  I read the books. I read adoption forums like crazy.  I told myself I was prepared, that I knew about RAD, about other physical, mental and emotional scars our children might bear, about the poverty we would see.  I did everything I could think of.

The problem is, until you've lived it, you can't even begin to comprehend.  

Fortunately, I was not forced to learn the sad and scary truths of a RAD diagnosis as that is a burden our family does not bear. We have gradually learned about trauma on all different levels and again, we have been extremely lucky. 

I can't even remember who I was, that woman who filled out that adoption application for the first time. (You can find many obnoxious waiting posts at my old blog here. Look at 2007).  I wouldn't recognize her today.  And I'm sure I would pity her and judge her now.  

What I should do is pray.  Pray for these wonderful people that have chosen adoption as a way to build their families. Pray that their ignorance and naivete will be remedied through education and not a trial-by-fire.  Pray that their desire to adopt is not some do-gooder action or way to fill some gap.  

This may sound harsh.  The truth is - I am talking about myself.  I wouldn't have thought so then.  But now... Well, the truth is that we started the adoption process because we wanted a son. As crude as it is to say, we essentially went shopping.  We looked at medical and social records of more than one child before accepting referral. We accepted what we thought we could handle. What fit our "profile."  And I know I'm not the only PAP who falls into this category.

So today, when I see myself in the faces of others, I do my best to keep my judgments in check. And remind myself to pray.  

Because someone clearly did that for me.


  1. I am pretty sure that I could have written this post. It's been a long road from where we started to where we are now...I can't imagine that I would have any desire to deal with my "beginning adoption" self. :)

  2. It certainly is a wild journey.

  3. Cat - I think these feelings are shared by all non first time parents. Adoptive or not. I say that because as I walk through the grocery store and see happy, pregnant women with their happy, carefree husbands, casually walking through the grocery store I always think to myself, "oh, you have no idea what is coming!" Something as simple as a trip to the grocery store is now total chaos - and we only have ONE! I realize that what you are talking about is different, but I have to say that this sentence, "the problem is, until you've lived it, you can't even begin to comprehend" should be a universal parenting mantra! Love this post.