Lessons Learned

I’m editing a book called Lessons Learned: Adoptive Parents Speak Out About Adoption.  The book is the brainchild of http://www.landofgazillionadoptees.com and CQT Publishing: I was involved with the beginnings as well. Many thanks to LGA and CQT for their innovative thinking and partnership.

It’s a valuable project to me for a number of reasons, one because it will feature essays from adoptive parents whose children are over 18. I’m so aware these days of how adoption has changed in the last 20 years: the increase in international adoptions (and its recent decline), the increase in open adoptions (including open international adoptions), the impact of technology on search and reunion, the growing power of the voices of adult adoptees.

I remember a young physician who was treating me for something or other several years back.  I had told her I was an adoptive parent. She paused, and said, “That seems like a win-win situation, right? Children need parents, you wanted children.” I agreed.  Today, I’d have paused myself.  I’m much more aware of the loss-loss aspects: the loss of the birth/first family, and the loss of the child’s family of origin (and in some cases, loss of culture, language, and more).

I still believe in adoption, and in its possibilities for children in genuine need of families, of safety, of medical care. I love my own children beyond words, and they would not be with me were it not for adoption. Still.  I’ve learned a lot of lessons myself as a parent over the years.  One is that children (who become teenagers and then adults) process grief in highly individual and powerful ways.  Another is that love and loss are constant companions. Love is a lot more fun to focus on, but loss keeps skulking around and dashes in at the most inconvenient times.  A third is that what worked yesterday might not work today, or ever again, (and the corollary, that what works well for one child is a failure with a different child), and we keep on going.  I’m so looking forward to other Lessons Learned.

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