Openness. Awareness. Celebration. Sensitivity.
These are words that come to mind this year as I consider this special month of November and specifically, its recognition as National Adoption Awareness Month. I have always enjoyed this month and especially the opportunity to highlight adoption stories and the blessing adoption has been to so many.
I look forward to sharing again this year but feel it is important to do so with greater sensitivity, as I have been reminded recently that the month which represents joy to many families can at the same time represent sadness for others. In the case of the latter, it may be the birth parent who will be reminded all month long of loss; or the grown adoptee who continues to sort through many emotional layers of his or her experience. It may even be the adoptive parent whose long-awaited child is struggling deeply, or has gone astray.
So often we view life through the glasses of our own experience, overlaying the experiences of others with our own. If we feel happy and blessed by adoption, we may expect everyone else to feel this way as well. If we feel cheated and bitter because of adoption, we may refuse to believe it can be a good thing for anyone.
But if we could step back and unbiased, truly listen to one another's stories we might find that it is indeed possible to see things in a new light.
A few days ago I read a blog post by adult adoptee and adoptive mother (one and the same) entitled "Tread Softly on My Adoption." Addressing the issue - from her perspective - of people calling adoption "unnatural" she writes:
It would do my soul good if people accepted adoption as sacramental, not unnatural. It would be a balm to my bruised heart to hear people try and voice the mystery of how God shapes families in unique ways to His glory, to His redemptive purpose. It would sound more truthful if we all admitted that struggle and sacrament are a natural part of family life.
Interestingly, in the subsequent comment section there are those who fully understand and feel as she does; and those who candidly state that "natural" is not a description they can use for their feelings in the same or similar situation. Does this make one right and the other wrong? No, it simply means that every situation is unique. It simply means that these qualities - openness, awareness, celebration, sensitivity - must be present as we consider adoption from its many angles.
And I hope it can start right here.