1. That I am filled with pride every time you tell me that my daughter looks like my husband or me.
When we sat down with our adoption agency, we checked the box that said we were open to a child of any ethnic background. It was not a decision we made without much thought and consideration. I read all kinds of information on being an interracial family and parenting a child of a different ethnic background. I bought an “adoption rocks” t-shirt for our one day child and imagined our family being a walking billboard for adoption.
Then, Annie was born. She is all blue eyes and fair skin.
Nobody ever assumes she was adopted. When we tell people that she is adopted the response that we typically hear is, “But, she looks JUST like you!” It’s not that I hate the comparison….Did I mention that she is beautiful? It’s just that her blue eyes and my husband’s blue eyes have nothing to do with our love for her. She could be purple with pink stripes and we’d still be crazy in love. I also know that one day very soon Annie will have to handle comments like those on her own. I don’t want her to ever think that “looking like us” is a part of what makes us a proud family. It’s love.
2.) That my daughter’s birthmother was a teenager/druggie/unloving…
People have commented, “I just don’t know how someone could give up her child…” The assumption being that a birthmother is clearly cold and unloving. Birthmother’s come to the decision to adopt for many different and difficult reasons, none of which has anything to do with not loving their child.
I was literally in the room. I have witnessed with my own eyes the pain, the heartache, and strength it took to bring Annie into the world. I also witnessed the pain, heartache, and strength it took choose another family for her. It is the most selfless kind of love that I have ever witnessed. So, please, don’t ever judge her, think negatively of her, or assume you know anything about a birthmother’s choice. All I know is that I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to love my daughter as selflessly as the woman who first loved her into life.
3.) That it was crazy expensive…
Adoption laws vary by state and adoption agencies come in many shapes and sizes. There are for profit agencies and not for profit agencies. Adoption can be crazy expensive. It can also be relatively affordable (especially if you adopt through the foster system.) There is also a wonderful federal tax credit for families who adopt.
4.) That we love our kids any differently than a biological child.
I’ll be the first to admit that I worried about this possibility. I don’t have adoption in my family. I knew there was a possibility that a biological child could be in our future. I worried if I would love them differently. Before we had any children I honestly worried that our biological child would be more “awesome” than a adopted child. Looking back, those fears are funny to me now. It’s just not how falling in love with a child works.
On the day we finalized Annie’s adoption. We gathered at the Courthouse and waited with three other adoptive families. One family was adopting a baby girl who was medically fragile. Another was a teenage girl about fifteen years old and another was a boy around eight. There we all were. All of us with our cameras and so full of love that it’s a wonder the courthouse didn’t lift off the ground. I remember the little boy asking his momma why she was crying and she said, “I’m just so happy.” Maybe it’s just one of those things that you have to experience to truly believe, but I am forever grateful for the experience.
5.) When it comes to adoption — just, please, don’t assume.
Not every couple who chooses to adopt does so because they are infertile. Not every family who has a biological child after they adopted is totally surprised by this news (like us). Some couples wait years to adopt, while others get that fateful call right away. Some have strong reasons for wanting to adopt internationally, while others are just as committed to adopting domestically. There are birthparents who are still a part of children’s lives and birthparents who are not. Every adoption story is unique. That’s the beauty of it! If you really want to know more about a family’s adoption story, just ask them. Chances are, they’d be thrilled to tell you…
One more thing:
I lost my mom to cancer in 2004. We named our daughter after her and one day I’ll tell Annie that I named her after the strongest woman I have ever known. My mom had this thing she liked to say to me. She’d whisper it in my ear as she was putting me to sleep. She’d write it in cards or slip it in notes in my lunch box. She’d say, “Of all the little girls in all the world, God gave you to me.” Now when I hold Annie close I whisper those same words in her ear aware of the gift she is to me.
I imagine that’s how most of us feel about our children. No matter how they came to be — they are gifts. So, Annie, just in case you read this one day, “Of all the little girls in all the world, God gave you to me.”
Kara K. Foster is a wife to Mark. A Momma to Annie and a new arrival coming soon. She has been the Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Rockwood, TN since January 2007. They are a Church who laughs readily and has the best covered dish luncheons around! She considers herself to be a proud Kentucky Wildcat fan serving as a missionary in Tennessee Orange Country. And she’s blessed to call, Erin Wathen, friend.