“Let’s say a toxic gas is released in your neighborhood and you need to evacuate. Where would you go?”
A strange question to be sure, but it was one of the scenarios that was raised during our recent adoption orientation class.
Let’s back up.
Caroline and I have begun the process of adopting a child. It’s a long process that begins with an orientation class at our adoption agency, which we attended earlier this week. At this orientation class, we are led through an overview of the adoption process, given a brief history of adoption in the United States, told what our responsibilities and rights (and expenses) are, and walked through several scenarios that we will need to think about at some point in the very near future.
Which raised the question from our social worker: “Let’s say a toxic gas is released in your neighborhood and you need to evacuate. Where would you go?”
These are the things you have to think about. I mean, I’m a “worst-case-scenario” thinker anyway, so it’s kind of strange that I hadn’t thought about this one already, but here we were.
I remember the first time my wife told me she was pregnant and how joyful and overwhelmed I felt. I remember the second time she told me and the same feelings rushing through me all over again. That’s what this adoption orientation class felt like.
Of course, whenever you tell people that you want to adopt a child, the reaction is mixed. Some people are excited for you, and some people are worried about what kind of trauma you are setting yourself up to endure.
The reactions span from “How exciting!” to “Are you sure you’ve really thought about this?”
Again, this is not unlike a biological pregnancy. Most people are excited for you, but there are probably some people who are (at least silently) wondering if you’re really up for it.
Here’s the thing I learned both times my wife was pregnant and that I was reminded of during our adoption orientation class: We never have as much control as we want.
People who want to warn you about the dangers of adoption seem to forget that a biological pregnancy has just as many questions and concerns attached to it. Are we under the illusion that our genetic material is incapable of creating a child who will grow up to struggle with emotional or physical health issues? Do we really think there is some level of certainty and safety associated with our own biological children?
We have several friends who have adopted kids, and they have all told us about all of the fears and risks involved. However, they have all also talked about the incredible, rewarding, and overwhelming feeling of welcoming a child into their home--of choosing to adopt and becoming more open than ever before.
Are there risks involved in adoption? Of course there are. There are risks involved in every human interaction. That’s part of being alive.
Brene Brown says this in her book Daring Greatly:
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow—that’s vulnerability.”
So basically, to be alive and interact with any other human soul is risk. That vulnerability can be terrifying, especially to those of us who have been wounded or who have a natural fear of pain. But without the vulnerability, we lose the rewards of love and openness—we lose our human connection with the people around us.
So yes, we are going to adopt a baby, and that will open us up in all kinds of new ways.
It is a risk to be sure, but that’s part of being human.
And it’s worth it.
If you are an adoptive parent or an adopted child, I would love to hear your story! Feel free to post it in the Comments section below or send it to me in an email.