November is National Adoption Month. You may have noticed you’re seeing quite a few stories about adoption lately. I’m so glad people talk about it now. For too long, it was considered shameful or embarrassing.
One of the sorta local stories from the NBC is a piece done by Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman. She’s a physician who started her medical and television careers in Little Rock. The piece is lovely about her oldest daughter’s search for her birth mother.
Sometimes people ask me if I’m afraid Jackson will want to find his birth mother some day. I think it’s interesting the question is framed that way. Am I “afraid” of that? The short answer is no, I’m not afraid of that.
I’m afraid of snakes. I’m afraid of the 280,634 bad decisions he could make as a teen (and those are just the ones I’ve thought of). I’m afraid of looking at the scale in the morning. But his birth mother? No, I’m not afraid of her.
His birth mom is one of the finest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. She is brave and strong and selfless. She has high moral character and an enormous heart. I’m pretty sure that’s where Jackson got his empathetic soul.
The decision whether to meet her is up to him. We’re not for it or against it. As his parents, we will require that he spend time with a counselor before any kind of meeting in order to be sure his expectations are realistic and he is emotionally mature enough.
I understand the narrative that makes people comfortable. She is bad, and we are good. She’s a sinner, and we’re the saints. We somehow “saved” him from a terrible life. But nothing is ever that neat.
So let’s talk about adoption this month and every month. Let’s chat about how families are made in so many ways and celebrate all the variations. Let’s sit with the hard stuff and be uncomfortable together because some of it is really awkward. Let’s laugh and cry about the absurdity of this crazy plan that involves a group of deeply flawed people all living together, called family. Let’s talk about the beautiful and also the scary parts.
But let’s keep a clear head about what we should actually be afraid of: the reality of too many children who haven’t yet been adopted and are waiting for admission into the “family” club. That’s the kind of scary that keeps me awake at night.