The Wait for a baby is such an adoption roller coaster. It can rapidly alternate between the highs of hope and the lows of despair. Statistics range from at least 40 and as many as 100 families waiting for every newborn placed for adoption. And don’t expect the recent US Supreme Court decision to change the availability of infants dramatically.*
Clearly, the odds are not in everyone’s favor. At least some of the people hoping to adopt a newborn will just not be able to. That’s a hard truth. What happens if and when you stop waiting to adopt? How do you get off the adoption roller coaster?
* According to researcher and sociologist Gretchen Sisson, only 9% of women denied a legal abortion will choose adoption for their baby; the rest will choose to parent. Therefore, the bulk of the increase of children available for adoption will likely be through the foster care system, for cases in which parenting a child they knew they weren’t prepared to parent becomes overwhelming or undoable.
I’d never heard of an “entrance narrative” in adoption before talking with Joanna Ivey, this month’s guest on Adoption: The Long View. I now see how important it is that we be mindful of the adoption stories we tell our child — and ourselves.
Entrance narratives are the stories we tell about how our child joined our family. We create them to answer questions others have about the decision to create a family through adoption.
What plays well for one audience doesn’t play well for another.
How we see ourselves as adoptive parents is intricately tied with how we see our children — and ultimately how they see themselves. Heroic narratives like “saving a child,” and innocuous ones like “we were meant to be together” may have unintended effects that parents don’t see on the front end — until after damage has been done.
Here to talk about taking the longer view right from the start – or wherever you are now – is a woman who is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. Joanna Ivey helps us understand why such feel-good sentiments for parents, ones we often use as our “entrance narratives,” don’t always land in the intended way for the adoptee.
An ancient tale from South Asia tells about six blind men who experience an elephant for the very first time. Each one projects his knowledge from a limited perspective to be the whole thing, certain that he knows The Truth about the elephant.
The man at the trunk thinks the elephant is like a snake; the man at the leg thinks the elephant is like a tree; the one at the ear thinks the elephant is like a fan. And so on. The men disagree about The Truth of the elephant, not having a common ground of understanding.
Adoption is fertile ground for something similar. From our limited experience of this vastly complex thing — Adoption, — we begin to think we have a handle on it and we know The Truth about it.
But the more we can become un-blind to the parts we don’t experience, the better grasp we have of the whole, and the better we can relate with others who have a differing experiences.
Like our children and their first parents.
Ep 304: Seeking Truth about Adoption via Parts Unknown to Many
I still struggle with being the special one, the chosen one. It’s a lot to live up to.