It’s hard to read anything written by an adoptive parent these days without the author commenting on how irritating it is when people say that their adopted child is lucky to have them. And to an extent, I get that. I really do. No child should ever have to long for a family. Ever. Adoption exists only because a deep and devastating loss has occurred, and there is nothing “lucky” about having to experience that kind of trauma as a child. If things were as they should be, no child would ever have to experience the kind of pain that leads to the need for adoption. And the adoptive parents, those who are graced with the gifts of these precious children, they are by far the lucky ones. True.
I am a mother both by biology and by adoption from the foster care system. So on a very personal level I understand and feel the truth of all these things. However, I am also a former foster child. So on a very personal level I understand and feel the truth of what it means to grow up waiting and hoping for a permanent family. Seared into my heart and mind are the memories of my foster brothers and sisters from different homes as years went on, getting matched with families, and eventually moving away to be with their new forever family. And you know what those of us who were left behind thought of those foster kids, the ones who were swept up into the embrace of a family? We thought, “they sure are lucky”. We didn’t say it of course, no we had to be much tougher than that. But we felt it, we ached it, and we choked it down. Eventually I reached the age of double digits, which is pretty much the time when foster kids start to realize that they aren’t next, that there really isn’t a family out there for them, that no one is coming to look for a 11 year old with this kind of baggage. It’s not true for all foster kids of this age, but it was true for most of us. I was never adopted, I aged out of the system at 18 years old like so many others. So many thousands and thousands of others.
I know that we as adoptive parents aren’t perfect. We aren’t heroes or saviors. We are just parents who love the children who have been entrusted to us with all of our hearts. I know that most of us wonder everyday how we were blessed enough to have been given these children. This piece isn’t about the adults in these stories, about how great we are to have adopted children. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is about acknowledging and honoring the pain and heartache of all the children still suffering.
So what do I want you to know? I want you to know, and perhaps to remember, that as you talk about how your child is not lucky to have you, there are countless children languishing in foster homes that would give absolutely anything to be in your child’s place.