Since adopting our kids from foster care, we have heard a number of (mostly) encouraging comments, but one in particular invites the opportunity to clarify a common misconception. We’ve heard it more than once:
“I bet you’re so glad it’s over!”
This is, of course, in reference to the idea that we no longer have to wonder about or worry about what the court may decide to do on behalf of our children. We are grateful to have some finality in that regard, and we understand the intention behind the comment, but we can’t help but shake our heads in wonder. You see, even though our days of weekly visits and monthly meetings are behind us for now, “it” is not over. Adoption is not an end, but a beginning. It will always be a part of our children’s story – and ours.
It seems the common assumption is that we’ll be relieved to be “free” of the biological families we’ve been sharing our kids with for so long now. After all, why wouldn’t we want to go on with our own lives without being subject to the inconvenience of extra family members and awkward situations?
Our state only offers “closed adoption” from foster care. This means that adoptive families have NO obligation to maintain contact of any kind with the biological families of their children. Biological family members do not retain any parental or familial rights once termination takes place, and that fate is further sealed when adoption takes place. Because of the trauma and safety concerns involved in many foster cases, this policy is important for protecting children and adoptive families, so we are grateful the state takes this conservative stance. Nonetheless, the idea of “closing” our adoption was contradictory to our purpose in becoming foster parents, and in opposition to what we believe is best for the kids (given the circumstances), so we have opted to seek an open relationship with their biological families. (I’ll write more about that in a future post).
To return to the original comment, we are not glad it’s over because it will never be over. Our children are adopted, and that is a beautiful part of their story that will forever complicate and enrich their lives. We are extremely grateful for the privilege of adopting them, for the outpouring of love and support we have received from our family and friends, and for the gracious love and kindness their biological families have offered us. We remain committed to tell our kids their story with openness, honesty, and age-appropriateness. The truth may bring them pain, confusion, joy, gratitude, anger, or any number of other emotions that we will work through as they come; but come what may, we are in this together and we most certainly have only begun.