Saturday, October 22, 2011

On My Mind

So I have been thinking about this post for awhile now. I have been wanting to write a few thoughts and feelings I’ve had about adoption in general and some of the “less-than-enjoyable” experiences we’ve had to endure. Of course to start, the whole battle of infertility is, at least for me, the most painful and hard to understand trial I’ve had to face. In case anyone that has not gone through any of this before was wondering: just because we have had the miracle of being able to adopt our amazing son Kyson, that DOES NOT mean that the PAIN of infertility that we have to face every day has magically disappeared. Maybe for some people, once they adopt, the pain goes away. But I know for me, and for many others in similar situations as us, the pain is still very real and very there. So if you know someone who may be facing something like this, please be sensitive to their emotions. Just because that pain is still there, does not mean we are any less than thrilled and so grateful that we do have our son. It is a hard thing to explain, and I think often unless you’ve gone through it, you may never understand fully. But it is possible to be the happiest you’ve ever been, while still feeling the deepest pain you’ve ever felt. And really, all we need is for people to understand that and accept it. Support is a wonderful thing and it often takes nothing more than mere acceptance.

A common, Oh! So Common comment that we hear, and I’ll admit, that we hope for is that “once you adopt you end up getting pregnant.” I’ve heard of it happening time and time again, and I’m sure so have you. And call us crazy, but we are really hoping for it. Like, now. If we were to randomly get pregnant with twins right now and end up having three kids less than a year apart, we’d be thrilled. Now to those of you who are parents of more than one child, I admit that if that were to happen, I’m sure I’d be asking myself, “What was I thinking, crazy!?!?” But regardless of the crazy, we would absolutely welcome that unexplained miracle to happen to us. Anyway, like I said, so many people have heard of those stories where a couple adopts and then finds out they are pregnant, that when they find out that we’ve adopted, that’s the first thing they like to share with us. We’ve learned to just go with it and play along. But if you are reading this and you know someone who is adopting or trying to adopt and you’d like a small piece of advice—we already know of that possibility. We really don’t need the extra reminders, I promise it’s on our minds already. Sometimes it’s just small, harmless comments like that that are meant in the best of terms that really cut deeper than one may expect. The best thing is to simply express your excitement for the couple and focus on the blessing we already have. Thank you for being supportive though, and know that if you’ve made unknowing comments to someone in this type of situation before, it’s okay. We know you only intend to help. Sometimes though the best way to help is to listen and not offer advice or suggestions or stories of what you’ve heard.

When you adopt a baby, regardless of race or genetics of any kind, that child is yours and has always been meant for your family. There is no difference to the parent between an adopted child and a biological child. You would go to the very ends of the earth for your baby and he or she is your own flesh in a very special way. So, if you know someone who has or will be adopting, IT IS NOT OKAY TO MAKE COMMENTS ABOUT THAT BABY POSSIBLY NOT BEING CUTE, OR SMART, OR ANYTHING, AND HOW IT WOULDN'T BE OUR FAULT BECAUSE WE DIDN’T PLAY A GENETIC ROLE IN HIS COMING TO BE!!! Sadly, I bring this one up from experience. And you may be shocked, thinking, “who could ever say such a thing?” But I promise you it happens, sometimes intentionally, most often unintentionally. But we have had close family and friends make very hurtful comments, among the worst being when they literally said, in "jest," “Well at least if he’s ugly you know it won’t be your fault, and we can make fun of him all we want since you had nothing to do with it.” REALLY?!?!? REALLY!??!?! Now I know the average person has the common courtesy and decency not to say something so horrific, but please, don’t even think this one. Our son is our son, regardless of how he came into our family, and that is offensive no matter what. Now, this is an extreme of extreme cases, but there are many other small comments that may to you seem absolutely appropriate and well-intended, but let me just say this. Comments like, “At least you didn’t have to lose your figure and get all out of shape for this one,” “Wow, you’re lucky, you got him the easy way,” “You look good for being 8 months pregnant” (knowingly said to a soon-to-be-adoptive mother), “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant,” “You have an open adoption? What if some day your kid says to you, ‘you’re not my real mom!'?” and so on and so forth…these comments hurt more than you can know and should be avoided if at all possible!!! We have heard all of these, and most adoptive couples have, too. We have learned to have thick skin, and I have especially learned to look at a person and recognize that most of the time they really are trying to help or be nice and just don’t know what they are saying. But like I said, these things have been on my mind, and I thought I would share my feelings in hopes to spare the feelings of even just one or two other couples in our situation. When in doubt, don’t say it. Ask questions, please ask questions. Adoption is often a misunderstood thing and we would love to shed more light on it for you. Don’t make assumptions, and please don’t try to give advice when what we may really need is a listening ear, or a sympathetic smile, or a loving hug.

Sister Julie Beck spoke at a recent Adoption Conference we were able to attend, and she told a story of a woman who tried for years and years to have children. Eventually, she and her husband were able to adopt several special needs children, whom they loved with all they had. Through tragedy, one of their daughters died at a young age, and not long after that, this poor woman lost her husband. She lived most of her life in poverty and faced many very difficult challenges, many involving her children. Years later, as she lay in the hospital, dying, Sister Beck came to visit her old Young Women leader. She visited with the woman, who told her she had really led a very happy life. Sister Beck thought about that. How could a woman who had lost so much so early, and had lived in poverty and pain most of her life say she had had a happy life? The woman explained, that every year of her life had been a joyful one, all but those ten years when they couldn’t have children. It was then that Sister Beck realized, that even after a lifetime of joys and sorrows, the pain of infertility had not left this woman or faded. Infertility is not a “come and go” trial. It stays with you. Even if down the road your circumstances change, those years of pain and grief remain. I am grateful to family and friends who have been willing to learn more about infertility and adoption for us. I am grateful to anyone who tries to be sensitive to those going through the painful roller coaster of it all, regardless of whether or not they can fully comprehend it. I hope that anyone who has read this post will understand that these are just a few things that have been on my mind, and I only want to shed a little light on a few things that are not typically discussed openly. If anyone ever has a question about something regarding these issues, feel free to ask me. Kent and I have decided to be very open about our trials, simply because it is comfortable for us, and we enjoy the support of the network we have developed, and we especially enjoy being able to reach out to help others who are in pain. We are not shy though, so if you don’t really want to know, don’t ask. We love adoption. I hate infertility, but I am grateful that my greatest trial has helped me to grow in ways I otherwise couldn’t, and especially that it has led us to our son. 

6 comments:

Alana said...

I hear you. I'm listening. I have no advice on your circumstances but I have many other friends who are going through different stages of the same process. We pray for them as well as you guys. It is the pain of Rachel and Hannah of the OT. Of course the pain is not gone, just hopefully eased a little. The only thing you can do is what you are doing, not be easily offended. The pictures Kent showed us were beautiful. I'm sure you are wonderful parents. Good luck.

Lanette said...

Kayla, I love you! This is really well said, and I just love it. I actually wrote a post about this sort of stuff a few weeks ago, but it's not nearly as well-said. I think we all blunder and say things we don't mean, and I know that for us, adoption has really helped us begin to realize things we could say and do differently to help those around us. And I'm so glad you're open in sharing how you feel about all this--the realm of adoption is just so different, and I really don't think many people *get* how hurtful things can be unless you tell them! Anyway, we love you guys! We're so grateful for your friendship.

GD said...

Amen, Kayla! I am so impressed with your ability to put words and voice to these issues. You and I have talked one-on-one about our shared experiences as well as our individual ones, but I have never been able to adequately explain "stuff" to others. You have been able to do so in a direct, loving way, and I thank you! You are such an example to me of standing as a witness of all truths - whether temporal or spiritual - at all times, in all things, and in all places, and you inspire me to step up myself.
Much love to you, Kent, & Kyson - always know that we are with you 100,000,000% in everything you do. (I'd like to claim that we are your biggest fans, but I'm pretty sure plenty of Nixon's and Nauman's would debate that . . . ! =D)

The Parker Family said...

We love you Kayla and Kent and you have by far the most handsome little man ever! we can't wait to see him some time soon.

Jeannette said...

Hi, you don't know me but I am an old friend of Kents and have been following your guys story for a while being that my husband and I are going through the same trial. This post was so needed for me, you said everything I've been feeling and wanting to say. I've actually been wanting to ask you about your adoption process so I can have an idea of what to look forward to since you've actually been through it. I've had people talk to me about it and offer advice but haven't actually experienced it, so it would be nice to keep in touch with someone who has. Also I was wanting to know if it was okay to reference you on my blog, since you said everything so perfectly. My email is jacoop16@gmail.com. I so appreciate your being so open, its so nice to have someone to relate to in trials like these. Also, congrats on the beautiful boy, he truly is precious:)

Mr. and Mrs. Dickson said...

I love you Kayla and you are such a strength to me.