Today marks two years since we first saw Makenna, the day we brought her home with us. We call it “Family Day.” Our lives changed forever on that day. At two weeks old she so graciously allowed us into her story, as God entrusted her to our care. There is so much joy in being her parents, and to say that she has blessed us beyond what we could have imagined is truly an understatement.
Truthfully, our Family Day is a bittersweet day. We don’t feel entirely celebratory. It’s complicated – just as we felt mixed emotions on the day of TPR, as well as the day Makenna’s adoption became final. We didn’t feel like party emojis.
This is not to say we aren’t DEEPLY grateful that God chose us to be the parents who get to raise Makenna. We love her with all of our hearts. It is the greatest joy and privilege to be a family together. She is one of the greatest gifts of our lives besides our salvation and our marriage. But we don’t so much “celebrate” today as we reflect and remember…
It was very timely for me to sit down with my coffee this morning and see this article: What We Lost: Undoing the Fairy Tale Narrative of Adoption. It expressed a lot of what I was feeling for Makenna and the sadness that I woke up with in my heart. This article is written by the perspective of an adult adoptee, a perspective that is critical for us as adoptive parents to hear.
In it the author says:
“The singular, unavoidable truth about adoption is that it requires the undoing of one family so that another one can come into being.”
“Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.”
“Adoptees must learn how to live with [loss of this magnitude, ‘unresolved grief’] over time, yet we must do so in the face of society insisting we exude joy, gratitude, and luck.”
Recently in an article for church, I mentioned how important it is to hear the perspective of adoptees, not just other adoptive parents — this article (“What We Lost,” above) is just one of many reasons why. I do hope you will take time to read it. (At the same time acknowledging that this does not speak for all adoptees.)
I think as parents, it’s often our natural tendency to want to take away any pain from our children, even at the expense of shielding them from truth. But sometimes the most loving thing we can do is allow them space to grieve and to process. To tell them truth. I’m so grateful to our incredible social worker at the time of our adoption process with Makenna, who told us that it is often best NOT to try and put a positive spin on everything. That sometimes the best thing we can do is be present, to not “look on the bright side,” and to simply enter into Makenna’s grief. (In not exactly the same way or a completely parallel analogy, but think about the damage we ultimately do when we try to make everything comfortable and fluffy and happy for our children — when instead we often love them most and do the best for them when we say “no” or provide discipline.) I also think of Job’s friends in the Bible.
Today, we are so so grateful that we are a family. We also grieve what was lost. We talk to Makenna about when she was adopted. We spend time quality time together as a family. We recognize that the years ahead may be spent following her lead on how to approach this day, to allow her the dignity and space to process the emotions that we, ourselves, will never have. To listen and allow, and to hopefully show her that there is enough room for it all. That she can feel love and despair and confusion and grief, and we don’t dictate that – and none of it will ever make us love her any less or want her any less.
It’s a process. Thank you for being on this journey with us. And thank you, friends and family, for being a part of Makenna’s life. We love her so much, and we know you do, too.