Back to Berlin's maxim, though. I love dancing. Even minored in it in college. And, I would agree that some pretty amazing things can happen while you're dancing (not the least of which is that you get some good exercise and burn some calories, but I digress). Dancing is romantic, whimsical, rhythmic, poetic, euphoric, and the list goes on. But something happened to me today that was far better than dancing (and again, I love to dance - even forced my hubby into lessons so he could dance with me). My little girl put her head on my shoulder and gave me a big hug. As I carried her upstairs to take a nap, she snuggled into me, and for a moment, I was about as happy as I have ever been.
The truth is that adoption is hard, and it is not always the right answer (but it is ALWAYS the right answer when the only other choice is abortion, if that dichotomy truly exists). Adoption brings with it loss that belongs to each member of the adoptive triad: the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child[ren]. We more easily recognize the loss experienced by birth parents. But, one thing that society tends to overlook is that these first parents experience this loss in perpetuity. Even in an open adoption where phone calls, pictures, and emails keep everyone connected, the birth parents miss out on first steps, sloppy kisses, baseball games, and other important milestones. Pictures just aren't the same thing as physically being there.
Then, there are the adoptive parents. They often, although not always, are in the adoption ring because of infertility issues. So, they grieve the loss of parenting their own DNA. And, even if infertility isn't an issue, we know that we are parenting a child that was once loved by parents before us. Or, in the case of the adoption of older adoptees, we parent children who come with a history that we won't ever share that is highly likely to include abuse, neglect, and other serious hurt.
Not to be forgotten are the children. Even though A was adopted at two days old, someday, she will still have to navigate her feelings about not being parented by her biological parents. Experts (who these people are, I don't know) suggested that even infants who are adopted must grieve the loss of the familiar. I'm not sure how provable that is, but there is definitely a sense of loss shared by all. Young children may wonder why they were "unwanted" (not true! see last post), and older children will deal with the trauma of being removed from the family they know, the loss of familiar neighborhoods and friends, and the separation from foster families who have cared for them.
Other family members often forgotten include the birth grandparents and other extended family. One of the hardest things for me to see was A's birth grandfather hold her while he memorized her every feature. We didn't have the chance to speak for long, but I could see his grief in losing a granddaughter (I'm telling you my little girl is loved by her birth family).
But, while adoption is fraught with loss and difficulty (we were rejected at least a dozen times before we were chosen, and we know what it is like to fall in love with children only to have our homestudy misplaced and therefore miss the window to submit it), I can say without hesitation that it is all worth it. Life is a balance of loss and gain. Adoption is no different. But, the good most certainly outweighs the bad. And, as I was walking A upstairs again today for her nap, and she snuggled herself into my neck and put her arm around me (sometimes she even pats me), I forgot the mounds of paperwork, the years of waiting, the seemingly endless educational sessions, the long background checks, and the numerous invasive questions. In the moment, I was a mom, and yes folks, that's better than dancing.