Monday, November 23, 2009

Adoption: Loss, Change and Healing

(adoption photography by Tonja Day)

Last October Que and I took LDS Family Services' adoption education classes (by-the-way, I looked it up and we started them on the 17th, which, one year later would be the day Liam was placed with us). :)

We learned about how adoption can be about loss for everyone in the "adoption triad" (that consists of 1) the birth parents, 2) the adoptive couple and 3) the child).

A birth parent (and their family) can obviously feel a great deal of loss relating to the placement of a child, and they actually go through the grieving process. For the adoptive couple, adoption can sometimes be the route they take after they are faced with infertility (and that brings about feelings of grief and loss). For the adopted child, they sometimes feel a loss regarding their birth parents. They wonder what they may look like, what their personalities are like, why they were placed for adoption, how their birth parents felt about placing them for adoption, etc. and it can create a void in their life. Thankfully, open adoption (and counseling) can diminish or even dissolve those feelings of loss for everyone involved. :)

Adoption is also about positive change and the hope for a bright future.

For the adoptive couple, choosing adoption can signal a huge paradigm shift. We did not easily make the decision to adopt; we were holding on to the idea of what we thought we wanted and were not letting the Lord tell us what needed to happen. When the decision to adopt is made, the couple now sees that the Lord meant for their children to come to them a different way, and that opens up a whole new world to them. (This experience has been so humbling, educational and spiritual for us.) Of course, actually having the baby and his birth parents come into the couples' life brings lots of positive change too. :)

For the birth parent, choosing adoption can be a catalyst for positive change in every part of their lives. It can bring about that "mighty change of heart" that is spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Brie (and Danielle) are different people than they were 1 year ago. They are now so close to the Spirit and are allowing the Lord to give them the happiness they deserve. They see life in a different way and are making a difference in other people's lives as well. (We are so proud of them!)

For Liam as the adopted child, his life has changed so much already and he doesn't even know it. :) Having him come into our life has made Que and I better people and hopefully that will help us be better parents for him. We all feel that his future is so bright.

Lastly, adoption is about healing. The healing of infertility, the healing of past mistakes and the healing power of the Savior's atonement.

I don't want to totally speak for Brie on this subject (hopefully she'll write about it on her blog!) :p but from what I've seen, this experience has healed her in many areas of her life.

For us, adoption has healed a lot of our infertility emotions (it doesn't cure it though). We didn't begin the adoption process in hopes that by doing so I would "suddenly get pregnant." We have grieved the loss of the child that will never have Que's eyes and my nose and we see adoption as a valid way to build our family.

It has also (strangely enough) helped me to understand that even if we were never blessed with a child (via adoption or otherwise), that Heavenly Father still loved and valued us.

Back then, my grief over infertility was eating me alive. By (finally) submitting my will to His and more importantly, accepting His answer, I also experienced a mighty change of heart. The atonement isn't just for sins; the Savior Himself experienced anguish, sadness and loneliness and He can fully empathize with us when we are going through life's trials.

We just have to let Him.

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