#51 – adoption loss/biological loss

May 20, 2012 at 11:43 am | Posted in Adoption differences, adoption issues, adoption loss, Raising the adopted child | Leave a comment
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I recently received an email from a future adoptive mother asking how they could handle their situation of any future adopted children while keeping the memory alive of their only biological child who died at the age of one.  She said that both will be a part of their family forever and expressed concern how to balance the importance of the two, honoring them both appropriately.

The longer I am in this adoption field the clearer it becomes that our sorrow and our joy, and particularly our sensitive insight into life stems from our loss.  Everyone involved in adoption is there because they’ve lost something.  Obviously, the birth parents lose their child to another family, an adopted child has lost his original relatives, history, family traditions, and culture, but what many people don’t discuss is what adoptive parents lose.

Adoptive parents may have biological children who have died – a loss.  They may have had miscarriages – a loss.  They may not have been able to get pregnant – a loss.  All these situations lead to the loss of children who physically, emotionally, and temperamentally resemble someone in their family.

The joy of raising adopted children overshadows the loss adoptive parents have gone through prior to the adoption process.  But, that doesn’t say the feeling of loss goes away forever.

It is this very fact that makes adoptive parents good parents.  They, to some degree, can empathize with the losses their adopted children have sustained.  These losses can hit a child over and over again throughout life depending on their development.  As children age, their understanding of adoption changes.  They will be reminded again and again by the world in which we live that they are not the biological offspring of their adoptive parents.  When they marry and have children, again they will be reminded.  Adoption does not disappear as they age.

I think we’ve all had the experience of trying to explain to someone the depth of our feelings about adoption, only to realize that if they haven’t experienced adoption, they can’t fathom what we have.  It is common for adoptive parents to say that the adoption experience has enhanced their lives to a degree they never thought possible.  All of these experiences may not have been positive, but even in these cases, parents have said how much more meaning their lives have after adopting children.

Our empathy and understanding are enhanced because of our life experiences.  Adoptive parents have lost potential(or actual) biological children. Adopted children have lost their biological families.  We are in the same ballpark.  This is what makes us good, if not outstanding, parents to our children.  We need to remember this, particularly at times when society tells us we aren’t “real” parents.

The rest of society has no conception of how deeply we feel as parents.  Studies have shown adoptive parents are more conscientious and caring, and more dedicated to our children. We think our children are special, but we also need to remember just how life experiences have prepared us for our jobs to parent these special children of ours. That makes us special, too.

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