In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the fourth annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
By Anne Sawan
I have just finished reading a very beautiful commentary about an adoptive parent responding to the comment, “Your daughter (son) is so lucky that you adopted him/her.”
The piece highlighted the standard response all adoptive parents give when faced with this comment, the “Oh no, it is we that are the lucky ones” reply, and went on to give a variety of examples as to all of the ways in which this wonderful child has blessed this family. It was a good article, very tender and touching, and it’s not that I disagreed with it -- or it’s premise -- for even one moment, for I too know how lucky I am to have my daughter in my life.
It’s just that every time I read anything about the “lucky” comment as it relates to an adopted child, and the ensuing, proper response, I am left with a troublesome little voice in my head that whispers, “Hey! Psst! Wait a minute, but isn’t it true that this (adopted) child is lucky?”
Now I know this is a tricky thing to talk about in adoption circles, and people have all kinds of responses to this issue, but hear me out before you pass any judgment. It’s not that I am full of myself and think that my daughter is soooo “lucky” because I am some sort of super fabulous mom. (Well, maybe a little).
No, seriously, I know those super “fab” moms and believe me, that’s not me; I can’t DIY to save my soul (I have never even held a glue gun); I have very little patience (trust me, you don’t want to be sitting next to me in a traffic jam or at a long line in Starbucks, it’s not pretty); I have been known to let a dip in the pool suffice for a shower (this is pretty much my children’s hygiene routine all summer long); and I occasionally allow my children to eat Frosted Flakes (What? C’mon, admit it, they’re tasty! It’s just once in awhile) . . .
But if not me, in all my uncrafty, impatient, imperfections, then who? Then what? Then where?
Sometimes in the evening, when my daughter is nestled beside me, lulled into a state of almost-but-not-quite-asleep due to one too many Sponge Bob episodes, I find myself staring at her perfect, dreamy face and wondering, what if?
I count her every breath, close my eyes and try to envision where she might be if she weren’t here, on this old, comfy couch snuggled next to me watching a silly, singing sea sponge. Perhaps, I sometimes think, she would be with a more perfect family, one with a super fab-glue-gun-toting, patience-of-a-saint, health-food-eating, daily-bath-mom.
Or perhaps it would be worse. Much, much worse. Perhaps hers would be a life lost to child trafficking, forced to serve the needs of others as a young servant in their home or a pawn in their filthy games, or maybe her childhood would be spent toiling in a dusty, crowded sweatshop stitching clothes together for people in wealthier countries, or most likely, she would be living with many other lonely children in an ill-funded orphanage in her war-torn country, where orphans are sadly low down on the list of social priorities. Who is to really say what her fate, and the fate of many, many others would be, if they were not adopted into the families they were. So, are they lucky?
My sister has also adopted two children; unlike mine, her children are from the foster care system here in the United States. I often think of how fortunate they are to have my sister as their mother. She is kind, patient and very invested in making sure her kids get all of the love and support they need to succeed -- from healthy meals, to supports at school, to nighttime hugs.
I sometimes wonder, what would have happened to these children if my sister hadn’t opened her heart and her life? Would they have lived out their too short childhoods in the foster care system, moving from house to house, only to age out and be on their own at the tender age of eighteen? Then what?
So, are they lucky to have her? Yes, you bet they are, and she is equally as lucky to have them, for they have brought tiny, constantly-under-your-feet Lego pieces, and scary, speedy skateboards and loud, colorful Disney movies into what was once a too routine and quiet life.
While I do not know the details of my daughter’s birth or the circumstances surrounding why she was placed for adoption, I am pretty certain that it must involve a story full of sorrow and hardship, and seemingly not a lot of luck at the very beginning.
However, I also know that someone must have loved this child very, very much to find a place for her where, perhaps, if she were lucky, she would get a chance for a future and for love. Love. Well, wherever you are now, just so you know, your wish and your love for this child won.
And truthfully, isn’t much of any life just based on luck? I often think that it was just by some wondrous, fluky roll of the biological cosmic dice that I ended up in the loving family that I did, with my two parents that knew when to be silly and when to put down rules and how to help us grow. But, what if my dice had landed differently? What if I had ended up in a family that lacked love? Or alone, with no family? Do I think I’m lucky? Yes. Very.
And I often think of how very lucky I am that I met my friend who took me to church where I was suppose to be finding God but instead found a handsome young man in the back pew, who would later became my husband; and how blessed I am to have all my children, regardless of how they came into my life, and how fortunate my children are that they have each other to tease and Frosted Flakes to eat and old sofas to sit on, and to be in a family where they are loved to the ends of the earth and back.
And you know what else I think? I think there is nothing wrong with a little luck, because really, where we would any of us be without it?
Anne Cavanaugh Sawan is an imperfect mother who loves to eat, run and write. She has had several pieces published in Brain-Child, Adoptive Families and Adoption Today Magazines. She is also the author of several picture books which can be found on the MeeGenuis app and website. Feel free to visit her blog, Five More Minutes, at agsawan.wordpress.com.
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