Monday, April 14, 2008

Lori's Adoption Cup Is Half Full, And Then Some

Lori of HahnAtHome has posted a wonderful essay about her twins, A Boy's Life, A Girls Life (, marking their fifteenth birthday.

Her love for her kids is palpable and she does a wonderful job of celebrating their many victories. This is adoption at its best. Her kids are winners and even though it is not about or for her she takes joy in it.

I think this is the side of adoption some people objected to me omitting from my March 31 post. That misses the point. What Lori wrote and what I wrote are both 100%, rock-solid, carved in stone, properly footnoted, pinky-swear, real life accounts of two different aspects of special needs adoption, neither of which get heard enough. Why don't they?

One reason is that we're too exhausted. I told Jenn of TeamZiezer that I didn't start writing about my adoption experiences until now because I wasn't well enough to do it. That may be hyperbole of a sort but For a long time way too much of my exhaustion, frustration and stress took the form of anger. If I had tried to write something like my March 31 post a few years ago it would have been much angrier and probably not helpful to anybody. Parents who adopt older children or children with special needs are under extra stress and we are tired a lot of the time. It's just a fact.

The other reason is that people don't want to hear it. They want happy adoption stories, but not with the details Lori included, like the complicated relationships we have with our kids' teachers. They want to hear that the parents and the kids got together and lived happily ever after. Their second choice would be shocking, tragic stories about abuse.

Reality is that families like Lori's and mine have a practical and emotional complexity that doesn't fit those formulas. There are also people out there who want to paint us as heroes or super-parents, but that also shows a lack of understanding. We're not special. Our kids are, but it still doesn't have anything to do with heroism. We deal with challenges other parents don't and it is those challenges that are not understood and that, generally, I find people don't want to hear about.

Lori reports to us about the joy she takes in her twins. She shares this with us in light of the challenges they have lived through together. Lori "gets it." She and her kids will continue to benefit from her love and her understanding of how her family works and what her kids need from their mother.

Thank you, Lori.


Hahn at Home said...

Now, that is about the nicest thing I've ever heard.

Whoa do I hear you. I am NOT to be praised for bringing my kids up. I am doing what they need. I'm no saint--there are days I want to pull my hair out and run away.

It's never been pretty. Sometimes it's been impossible. It takes a while to get used to the fact one kid doesn't want to be touched. He pokes me in the arm with his finger to show his affection.

I have to find unique ways to connect my black kids with their blackness. One kid identifies as black and one kid identifies as just me. I committed to changing my circumstance to fit them. We live in mixed race neighborhoods, they go to heavily multi-cultural schools, I seek out friends of other ethnicities (of all types) and I'm a lesbian - so wow, are we different. I've never looked at it like I was doing something wonderful for humanity. I was taking care of my children. I feel so uncomfortable when people seem to think it's some great thing. I know you know what I mean. There really aren't words for this.

JZ said...

Great follow-up. A coin has two sides and one doesn't necessarily negate the other. Another stellar post.