What I want you to know about loss and adoption

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Jill. 

I want you to know that loss is at the root of adoption. There is joy in adoption but that joy comes with a side of sadness. Adoption is part of my family tapestry. Two of my 3 kids are adopted. They bless me daily and I can’t imagine life without them in it. Wouldn’t want to try. But, I want you to stop and think before you tell me my adopted kids are “so lucky” or that their adoptions were “meant to be.” I want you to know they’ve lost their birth families and their familiar caretakers before being placed in to my arms. I want you to understand that although my heart was filled with joy when I laid eyes upon my kids for the first time, they did not see things the same way. They were stressed, anxious and afraid. I waited a long time to be their mom. I longed for them for months before our first meeting but they didn’t long for me.  

I want you to know that telling me my kids were “meant to be” in my family diminishes the significance of their birth mothers in their lives. Their birth mothers chose not to parent them for reasons I will never fully understand. But, these same birth mothers chose life for the two boys I have the privilege of tucking in every night. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of their birth moms and wish them peace.  

Telling my kids they are “so lucky” implies they are somehow privileged to have a family that loves them. No child should feel this way. Telling them they are where they are “meant to be” affirms that the powers that be meant for them to live their early lives without the nurture of a family. And I want you to know, I think that’s wrong.  

Adoption is about loss. The shiny, happy coin is tarnished on the flip side. The dark side doesn’t make the shiny side less shiny but the shine doesn’t make the dark side vanish. Meant to be? I can’t in good conscience raise my hand for this one. Plan B? Most definitely. And I’m okay with that. When it comes to parenting my children, I’m humbled to be their Plan B. Adoption might be second choice…but it is not second best.





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