Honoring Your Child’s Story

For adoptive parents, the adoption journey is one wild roller coaster of high points and lows. Delays and bad news and concerns about timing make up a few of the lows. High points include beginning the journey, being matched with a birth mother or orphan, and getting a birth or travel date to go bring their new child home. Foster parents endure the very same emotional journey as they work through licensing and home study appointments and placement calls.

One of the greatest mountaintops for Matt and me in our journey to adopt our second daughter was the moment of referral, when we first saw our precious baby girl’s face…when all of the prayers we had whispered collided and this little beautiful brown-eyed girl appeared in front of us on the computer screen and she was so real and she was absolutely ours. We were absolutely over the moon that we finally had a face to go along with the idea of the child we had loved for so long.

Of course, it was only human when that joy bubbled over and we wanted to tell EVERYONE, just shout it from the rooftops, who she was and what her real name was and where she was (specifically) and what she looked like and what the situation was with her health and what life circumstances had brought her to the orphanage. We wanted to share her with all of our friends and family who had supported our adoption in so many ways. We wanted to share every part of her with them because there were so many people who had invested in our journey – financially, yes, but also emotionally and prayerfully. We had an ARMY of friends behind us, and they had been so faithful to pray us through so many difficulties in the process. They were interested and supportive of every detail, so we just wanted – REALLY wanted – to share her story.

Thankfully, however, we were cautioned about the importance of truly respecting our child’s story, her details. We were reminded that it is so important to keep our daughter’s information as close to us as possible, simply because:

-all she had was her name and her story, and it was our job as her parents to guard both of those with every fiber of our being, and

-sharing her story with others would mean that other adults and possibly other children would know more about her than she knew about herself, which would be inconsiderate, unfair, and uncomfortable.

I remember how hard it was to begin layering our story with a veil of protection. Whenever we were asked for specifics, we would remain truthful but also vague. “There is very little we can share” was, and actually still is, a common refrain. Because of how supportive people had been with our adoption, I felt as though we owed it to them to give them information about our process and our child.

Soon it became easier to respect the boundaries of our Pearl Girl’s story. It began to feel less like withholding information and more like being a good mommy or daddy to this precious child. Like so many orphans and children in foster care, she didn’t need a mom who told all her business…she needed a mom who would work hard to protect her story. This is a whole new realm of parenting that many adoptive or foster parents don’t consider and aren’t prepared for.

For those of you in process or considering adoption/foster care, consider the impact of honoring your child’s story.

{Guest Post from Michelle Wilson. You can find more of her writings at http://asouthernruckus.com.}