The Adoption Ideal
Idealize (Def: to attribute ideal characteristics to)
Ideal (Def: existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only)
Christmas, Birthdays, Vacations and other special events are prime targets for any idealist. Marriage and motherhood too, especially if you are single and have no kids.
I’ve learned through experience the dangers of idealizing; envisioning life a certain way only to be disappointed when reality doesn’t match. Add to that a comparison of your thwarted reality to a friend or blogger’s perceived reality and you can convince yourself you’ve got it all wrong.
I did that with adoption.
We were called to adopt three years ago, experienced paper pregnancy in all its glamour, and welcomed our daughter home last summer. Those who had gone before me on the adoption journey made it look smooth. Gotcha day videos made it look inspirational. I had read the books so I knew there could be challenges, but I felt confident we would handle them with grace. You know, in an “ideal” way.
Let’s just say the last year has been a huge learning curve.
We all know adoption means our kids have experienced loss in big ways. This loss manifests itself differently for every child (anger, fear, insecurity), showing up immediately or lying dormant for years. Eventually it comes out presenting unique parenting challenges that test our patience and endurance.
And by test, I mean TESTS our patience and endurance, blowing any idealized version of life post-adoption out of the water. When those times come, it is easy to feel alone.
The fact of the matter is, adoption is not an easy road. It involves parenting (one of the hardest jobs in the world) a hurt child (making a hard job even harder). It is a process that takes time and love (the supernatural, God-given kind) and lots and lots of prayer.
If you are being tested on your adoption road, here are my recommendations.
- Pray for a friend who is on the adoption journey as well. Someone you can trust and be honest with about your struggles, who can lift you up in prayer and confirm that you are not alone. There is strength in numbers.
- Give yourself grace when you fail the patience tests; confess your sin, ask for forgiveness and move on.
- Never compare your reality to your perceived reality of others.
- Most importantly, stay connected to the Source of Love. Make time with God your priority.
I don’t idealize the events in my life as much as I used to. This is a good thing. It frees me up to enjoy the moments instead of feeling discouraged because the moments don’t live up to my mental images/expectations.
Because the truth is, even though it’s harder, the reality of adoption is so much better than the ideal.
This post is a part of our feature series this month on adoption and foster care. Learn how you can help make an impact during National Adoption Awareness Month in November and find ideas on teaching your children about the plight of orphans in the world with our Guide to Teaching Your Children about Orphans