A noted infertility blogger just went off to a weekend-long agency introduction to adoption; an adoption extravaganza, as it were. It sounded pretty intense. There were folks at all stages in the adoption triad--birthmothers, adoptive parents, adult adoptees, potential adoptive parents, teenage adoptees. Lots of crying.
Some commenters thought it sounded like a graduate studies "intro" course--where the prof's idea is to overwhelm the students, and the small percentage who lasted through the entire course were the ones who were committed.
Some commenters thought it sounded like all they focused on was the Bad Stuff.
So. The Bad Stuff does exist, certainly. I've written about various aspects here on this blog. Unethical adoptions. Potential birthmothers who feel coerced. Adoptive parents who aren't told all the gory details about this particular adoption situation. Adult adoptees who feel like neither fish nor fowl; not fully part of their adoptive families (or culture), not fully part of their birthfamilies (or culture).
Lots of stuff to think about.
Yes, it's good to get an idea of the Bad Stuff. To go in With Eyes Wide Open. It's like being a Boy Scout: be prepared. That way, when the Bad Stuff happens, it's not a surprise.
But y'know what? Most of adoptive parenting is just...being a parent, dealing with the standard stuff of parenting.
Am I doing a good job? What on earth is that thing that just went up my dotter's nose?! How soon can I get a doctor's appointment? What's the best school to put the child into? How do I know when the crying means something serious is happening, versus just "I'm angry and I really, really want you to know it!!"? Why is my child putting all her toys on the floor where I'm going to step on them in the middle of the night?
Ice cream cones. Jumping in mud puddles. Snow angels. Learning to draw hearts. Bedtime stories. Playdates. Ballet lessons. Best friends forever. Bicycles. Artwork on the refrigerator.
Adoptive parenting has some extra stuff: No, you didn't grow in my tummy; I wish you had. I don't know where your birthmother is. Yes, you look different than me. We'll go to China someday so you can see where you were born.
Maybe some attachment issues. Maybe some sensory issues. Maybe some unexpected genetic problems. Maybe.
But if there are issues, they're not insurmountable. It's not continuous. It's not a day-in, day-out dirge of "oh-you-poor-thing-you-were-adopted-and-you-will-forever-be-hurting". It's definitely not an endless feeling of not being entitled to be a parent to this child! It is, now and then, a wistful wondering of what the birthparents were like...what the reasons were that this child was abandoned...where she got her musical ability...did her parents have eyebrows that fly up like hers?
As your child gets older, you find yourself cramming more and more activities into your life. Ballet lessons. Ice skating. Birthday parties. Doctor and dentist appointments. Registration for this, that, and the other. You get swept along on the tide of life, and realize, suddenly, that your little baby is no longer a baby, but definitely a little girl, who is charging forward into life with zest and interest. Maybe with a little adjustment here and there to accommodate things you never thought you'd have to accommodate--a "Metcha Day"...a fear of being alone...an ungodly love of horses...
But it's life. It sweeps along. You run along with it, leading your child behind you, until one day you realize your child is leading you, dashing headlong forward into the future, and you realize that one day...one day you will have to let go of her hand, let her ride the bicycle of life without your steadying hand holding her upright.
And there is Joy. Sparkling laughter. Dancing in the living room. Discovering new things. Explaining what a volcano is. Hugs. Kisses.