I am a big fan of Dawn Davenport, whose blog, Creating a Family, is only one of many ways she reaches out to families considering adoption or treatment for infertility or a zillion other options for bringing children into their lives. A commenter she recently took note of raised a mind-blowing point in this excerpt:
In the comments to my blog Is There Such a Thing as a Happy Adoptee? a prospective adoptive parent said, “All I was really looking for was some reassurance that I wasn’t guaranteed to make some child miserable just because I could never be biologically connected to them.”
Mei-Ling, an adult adopted from Taiwan as an infant, responded:
You are looking for the reassurance that love is enough in adoption. While I wouldn’t say adoption in itself equals a life of misery for any child, in a permanent state of forever, I do wonder if knowing that a child who has been given a ton of love and “the world” (metaphorically speaking) and who still ends up not liking adoption, would be considered “enough.” That is to say, if the child dearly loves his/her parents, and the parents love that child to the end of the earth, yet all this love in the world is not enough to prevent the hurt caused by adoption, then is it still worth it? If you love your child more than life itself, and your child loves you just as much, yet your child does not like that the adoption had to happen in order for you to have become the parent… then would you still do it, knowing this?
I had a great deal of trouble trying to see Mei-Ling’s point of view.
Parents cannot prevent the hurt caused by adoption, but they can help a tiny broken heart heal and grow. Parents cannot undo abuse or erase abandonment, but we can use our intelligence and intuition to seek out the tools we need to best help our child move past the loss and grief as it manifests itself at different stages.
Do we like adoption? Do our children like adoption? Is it a Facebook poll?
Adoption in its many forms is an imperfect instrument by which our happy families are built on a birth mother’s pain. We cannot change that fact. Adoption is complicated by procedures and bureaucracy that are intended to protect children but often work against a child’s best interests. Still, adoption is, to go to the core of Dawn Davenport’s work, a way to create a family, and what could be more amazing than that?
The love you feel when you see a tiny referral photo from half a world away (I was thinking of Meimei’s little picture as I wrote this; at the same moment, sleeping Meimei burst into laughter. “What’s so funny,” I asked her. She reached out to my ear with a hand and said, “taxi,” then giggled again and rolled over. Ahem.) Let’s start again: the love you feel when you see a tiny referral photo from half a world away of a child you have never seen before is miraculous, unsummoned. And it lasts.
It’s not quantifying the love our children give back to us that makes adoption worth it. It’s the love it sows in the heart of a parent, the love that makes it possible to say, “Yes, let’s bring a baby girl into our lives even though we are petrified at the prospect of having responsibility for such a fragile living being.” It’s the love that we plumbed to see if there was room for a third child with a history bit more mysterious and perhaps more complicated than those of the girls.
Yes, love is surely enough, and that’s without counting the love that boomerangs back.