This is a guest post by our good friend, Natalie Brenner, who has also been a guest on our podcast, The Honestly Adoption Podcast. She is an adoptive and biological mother, as well as a blogger, and the author of the book This Undeserved Life
. Make sure you check out her blog by clicking here
Many adoptive parents are also the parents of biological children. But there is no difference, or degree, in the love they have for all of their children, adopted or bio. Here’s why…
“I just have to ask… do you love Sage as much as you love Ira? I mean, I know you say that you do…but I’m just so curious if it’s true.”
We sat on my living room floor when she asked me this. With a world of confidence and pride in my chest I was able to nod, and beam, and let her know that I absolutely love Sage as much as I love Ira.
You may not believe it by reading that headline, but our blog, which is mainly about how amazing and beautiful adoption and foster parenting is, has come under fire. A lot, actually. Finally, we’re breaking our silence and responding.
It’s not kidnapping. It’s just not.
Before I continue, I must say this: there are some people who have experienced a lot of hurt as a result of the adoptive journey. Some have had their children removed unfairly. Some have consented to an adoption only to have the post adoption plan change. A very good friend of ours was forced to place her baby for adoption as a teenager, she didn’t have any rights. These stories are heartbreaking. But that isn’t what we are talking about here.
Almost 2 decades ago, we first discussed adoption and I resisted. Thankfully, my heart changed. Today, I’m a better person because of adoption. Here’s why…
I awake early on a Monday morning to begin my typical weekday routine in my household. Quick workout at our local gym, buzz home quickly while I chug water, arrive home and wake kids up, head to the kitchen to make lunches, simultaneously start breakfast, give a check to backpacks, gently remind my kids to get up again, warm the car up for carpool, consider pouring ice cold water over the stragglers who are still sleeping, then kiss the heads of the ones who have made it downstairs in relatively good time.
Many of our children have come from significant trauma and that often prevents them from logical thinking. This can be frustrating, even maddening at times. Our temptation is to shame or lecture. But there’s a better way…
My kid had been caught red-handed. On camera, but also by the evidence spilling out of his bedroom. Literally…spilling out of his bedroom. If someone had rounded the corner and punched us square in the face, we would have been less shocked. And you better believe we saw red. Not only were we angry, but embarrassed, ashamed, and bewildered. This was not acceptable at all.
Yesterday we took our daughter to meet her birth mother for the first time in her (almost) 15 years of life. We were all nervous, anxious, and excited. But I had no idea I would be moved to tears.
The wind was whipping down the corridors of buildings along 16th street in downtown Indianapolis. Although the sun was shining bright, it was cold. A typical late December day in Indiana. I eased the car into a spot across the street from the vintage coffee shop we were meeting in, turned the ignition off, and turned to look at my daughter sitting quietly in the back seat. She smiled at me. Kristin suggested we pray before going in, and so we did.
We often tell foster and adoptive parents that they’re not superheroes, and adoption and foster care are not rescue missions. If that’s true, what is this journey, and who is the hero?
I used to think it was me. Fifteen years ago when we first began this whole journey I would have told you, it was us. I thought we were on a rescue mission. I thought our entire calling as foster and adoptive parents was to swoop down, grab up as many broken kids as possible, pull them out of the dark situations they were in, and give them a way more awesome life in our home, than they would have had anywhere else.
We entered into foster care and adoption for one reason: Love. And if this choice has taught us anything, it’s that true love will take the life out of you in a heartbeat.
The front porch of our house is my go-to place anytime I need to rant, or lend a listening ear to a friend in need. I’m not sure why, since we live on a busy street. There’s a constant stream of cars, trucks, and school buses zooming past at all hours of the day. Not exactly the quiet backdrop you’re looking for when helping a friend out. The other day, my friend called me frustrated and defeated.
It’s a question we’ve been asked quite often. We’ve even asked ourselves this question a time or two when we were still fostering. The answer is, yes! And here’s why…
“I gave up being a foster parent because I couldn’t stop getting attached to the children I cared for. Every time one of them left, it hurt. Figured it was best if I just stopped putting my heart out there like that. I always ended up sad and depressed.”
Her words echoed off the concrete pillars of the bus station we were sitting in. As passengers hustled past, her face fell solemn. I could tell she didn’t really mean the words she was saying to me. I could see the heartbreak in her eyes. But out of defense for her tender heart, she held her emotional wall in place. Her graying hairline, and wrinkles under her eyes, told a story void of words. Life had been hard on her. With every ounce of sadness she swallowed, with every emotion she forbid to show itself, regret silently burned a permanent spot on her face.