Lanaya and Shawn
I am interested all things adoption, so I automatically feel connected to people in the adoption triad. I am always trying to get my hands on books for kids and adults, relating to adoption. Basically, in a community when adoption is uncommon, social media is all about adoption for me! I need to know there are other people who are "in it" as much as I am. I strive to listen to adult adoptees, and transracial adoptees, in particular. I follow them on social media, read their blogs and books, and I listen to podcasts.
Recently I have engaged with a few different adoptive parents who are fed up with listening to adoptees who express feelings that seem to differ from their opinions and maybe even make them feel insecure about their role as adoptive parents. I find this sad and frustrating.
Many adult adoptees are now sharing their stories, and their experiences challenge traditional beliefs about adoption. This, at times, takes a lot of emotional energy. It is work. It can be incredibly exhausting to engage with people who challenge your beliefs. I have at times needed a break from these social media spaces or unfollowed people who I, having listened intently, found my values for life differed too greatly. As a follower of Jesus, there are some things on which I simply cannot concede. Sometimes there are other things going on in my world that need to use that energy, too.
That being said, I know that for the sake of my children, I cannot disengage from these conversations permanently. This is not an area where I can afford to be lazy or to accept the status quo. I should value just as highly the adoptee-who-is-an-adoptive-parent's perspective, as those who wish to end all adoption. I need to hear them talk about their good, bad and ugly experiences and how being adopted is incredibly confusing and complicated. I need to listen when they say that they feel commoditized or rejected or stolen without jumping in with a “but, but..” to explain away their feelings or justify various scenarios.
This doesn't mean that I automatically embrace every opinion that I hear. I am decidedly pro-adoption and family preservation at the same time. They are not opposites, And It’s simply too complex to pick one opinion as THE answer for ALL adoption, or one solution for all vulnerable children. Actually, probably even just one individual adoption is too complex to cover it with one blanket statement. I truly feel that I NEED to acknowledge the complexity of seemly opposite truths in a healthy adoption scenario- adoption is loss and gain. Sometimes adoption is right and good and "best" under the circumstances, sometimes adoption is the result of corruption and outright child trafficking. Sometimes adoption is wrong. Sometimes adoption is the best solution even when it is still broken. Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is confusing, sometimes it is downright criminal. Sometimes families could parent if they had more support and finances, sometimes not. It is a false equivalency to say that all adoption is the same as kidnapping. It is also dismissive to deny the primal loss inherent in adoption though our words and actions, or lack thereof. It is OK to acknowledge mistakes we made along the way before we learned what we know now. When I know better I do better. I can only know and do better if I keep learning and keep advocating for what is right
I need to listen even when I disagree. When I listen, I am hearing the ADOPTEES’ experience and her opinion. It's not my job to decide whether or not their experience is valid or true. It is their lived experience. I was SO naive 7 years ago when I began this journey. It's embarrassing actually! But I have learned so much from engaging with adoptees (and first parents), especially about letting go of my pride and admitting my inadequacies. I cannot put on blinders in my goal of creating my family, by refusing to listen those around me who are concerned that my family is created as another is broken. I cannot become single minded in raising my children, that I refuse to look deeply at adoption practices and evaluate their justness. It is not OK for me, as an adoptive parent, to focus on justifying my situation, rather than evaluating my position of privilege. It is not good enough for me to claim naivety when my children grow up and process the loss, and damagingly positive narrative of adoption going on all around them. As the parent of adopted children it's my job to listen even when I'm offended, to put aside my naivety, to learn from the people who are the experts (they are the adoptees in case I haven't made that clear). My kids are worth it.
Why I'm a SAHP
I am a stay-at-home-parent (SAHP), but I work one afternoon and evening a week. My kids go to a day home for about 5 hours on that day, and occasionally go another day if I need extra childcare. I know this is not everyone’s choice, or not everyone is able to choose this even if they want to, but for us it is ideal.
This conversation came up in a FB group I am part of and I loved that it made me sit down and think about the "whys" for our lifestyle. As adoptive parents, Shawn and I feel very strongly that it is best for our children to be with a parent the majority of their time, especially in the formative preschool years. For us it just comes down to intentionality in parenting, attachment, and spirituality.
We learned early on to be intentional and careful with finances, and it has really paid off in the long run to be disciplined with finances. One way in which we set ourselves up to be able to have one parent stay home, was that we committed to living on one income, even though we had two, before we even had kids. Our reasons for this were twofold: to be generous and to save money. But the extra benefit was that we knew that if one of us was going to be a stay-at-home-parent, this would set us up to be well practiced at living on one income. I was the practical financial choice, but for the record, Shawn would be an amazing stay at home parent!
As Christians, our deepest desire is for our children is that they love Jesus. Apart from that, we don’t think much else matters. But I think as humans our default is to do what comes most naturally, is the easiest decision to make or is the most socially acceptable. It is so valuable to have someone say point blank, “Why?” because it forces us to analyze the choices we make. So, here were my pros and cons.
PRO: I get to share in almost all my kids’ life experiences since they joined our family; we have the most influence over diet, disciplinary methods, media intake, etc. as well as who they spend time with; we get better downtime in the evenings and weekends by being able to plan activities during the weekday; my husband gets to spend more time with us, instead of chores, when’s he’s not at work since I can do a lot of the household chores and errands; I don’t have to grocery shop on busy Saturdays; I am almost always off work when my husband is; being together is best case scenario for strong and healthy attachment between us and our children; we have the most influence on our children’s spirituality.
CONS: sometimes I get sick of being with my kids (that’s no joke!); sometimes I wish I could just go to work and pay someone to clean my home; I don’t always get enough adult interaction; we have one income. Obviously I am biased one way, but to us this is a really simple decision. All concessions that have been made are worth it to us.
This is not meant to judge anyone for making a different choice than us. I have godly, intentional, intelligent friends who choose otherwise, or whose previous choices or life circumstances that have taken away this option. But it is good to check our decision making process, and evaluate our life from time to time. And maybe it’s valuable to someone else out there too.