I have to admit, my thoughts on adoption were limited until we adopted our daughter. My husband and I, after several years of trying to start our family, knew we wanted to adopt. However, I'm not sure you can fully know all that adoption entails before you're in it, which is why there are things you don't think about until you become an adoptive mom.
I know I didn't go through pregnancy or birth with my daughter, but because she joined our family when she was 3 days old, it often feels like I gave birth to her. My partner and I were able to have the experience of bringing her home from the hospital and being treated as a family of three from a very early point in our daughter's life. Still, my partner and I quickly started to realize that adoption is a thread that will weave its way through our family forever. Our daughter is ours, but she is not exactly the same as a biological child. Her circumstances are always going to be different.
There will be things the three of us will learn and face in the future that hasn't even crossed our collective minds now, because that's just the way adoption (and parenthood in general) works. However, and despite thee fact there's more to think about with adoption, I wouldn't change our situation for the world. None of the following things I didn't know I would eventually be thinking about could ever outweigh the wonder of having our daughter in our family.
Pre-Screening Movies For Your Young Adopted Child
Remember when Finding Dory"came out? Or Lion? And you thought nothing of letting your biological children watch them? Adoptive parents often have to be a little more careful about adoption themes in kids' movies.
I'm all for transparency with adoption, and I think it's very important to be honest with adopted children about their story. Still, I want to have that conversation on my terms, and not because my daughter watched a movie at a friend's house that I didn't know about. There will be conversations in their lives that I can't protect her from, but knowing what she's going to be watching when it's about adoption is important.
Their Birth Certificate
In many cases, adoptive parents won't have a birth certificate for the adopted child until the adoption is finalized in court. Adopted parents can't always even have a copy of the original birth certificate for privacy reasons, meaning things you typically need a birth certificate for are a heck of a lot harder.
Their Biological Siblings
It's such a weird feeling to know that one day your adopted child might have (if they don't already) siblings walking around the planet that your family may never know about. One day, your adopted child might find them, but at the time of adoption they might not even exist yet. Isn't that so strange? I just find it strange to think that there might be other people walking around with the same genes as my daughter and we might just never know about it.
Nurture Vs. Nature
We've all wondered about nurture vs. nature, like when biological kids have certain predispositions that don't seem to have anything to do with how you're raising them. With adoptive children, that's a question that carries a lot more meaning. How much does nature matter, and can your nurture outweigh whatever genes your adopted child might have inherited?
A trauma-versary is like an anniversary, but a whole lot less fun. Sometimes when children are exposed to trauma when they're very little, even if they have been removed from the traumatic environment, they can have PTSD-like symptoms around the time each year that the trauma occurred.
The biggest trauma my daughter experienced before she joined our family was the loss of her biological mom, so I'm always conscious around that time of year that she might be experiencing memories of that trauma. And of course, other triggers can present themselves later that we need to be cognizant of, too.
Before we adopted, I didn't realize how much time I would spend thinking about our daughter's birth parents and wondering about them. I often wonder what they are like and what traits they've passed along to our daughter.
Which Words To Use
I had no idea how often I would think about which words to use and how to speak best about adoption. It's tricky (but so important) to use the right words to speak about adoption to your own child, to your family, and to friends and strangers.
Mixing cultures is something I didn't have a clue I was going to be thinking so much about. I was raised in Maine, my husband in Ireland, and my daughter was born in Texas. I'm white, my husband is half black, and my daughter is half Mexican. We have got a whole lot going on and, well, love it. I love that any night of the week, we could have a different meal that would represent a different culture in our family.