Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

What No One Told Me About Adoption


There is a blog carnival going on at Grown in My Heart for bloggers to discuss what no one told them about adoption and then link up.  I’m fascinated reading these posts!  I thought I would add my own list.

  1. I didn’t truly understand that my greatest joy was rooted in another woman’s greatest pain.  In order for Sabrina to become ours, another woman had to give her up.  Sabrina had to lose her birth family and cultural identity.  So much loss for our incredible gain.
  2. That I would quickly stop fearing and jealously regarding Sabrina’s birth mom and foster mom and instead begin loving, respecting, and aching for them.  I so wish I could share this beautiful, joyous little girl with her first mom and her foster mom who loved her for the first 7 months of her life.  I think of them so often and wish they could be part of our family in more than just spirit.
  3. That attachment was a process for all of us.  Someone probably did tell me this but I didn’t hear it.  I thought we were already in love with that photo and that little girl we spent a week with a couple of times.  But when I picked her up and lived in Antigua with her, it was a few weeks before I stopped feeling like her babysitter and started feeling like her mom.
  4. That adoption would bring so many amazing people into my life aside from our daughter.  I’ve had the good fortune to meet so many of you in person.  I told someone once we were all like war buddies – we might not have anything else in common but our time in the adoption trenches forms a strong bond that few others understand.
  5. That 3 years later I would fear my top notch, beyond reproach, ethical adoption agency wasn’t any of those things despite the premium price tag for their services to ensure everything was above board.  What if it wasn’t?
  6. That I would get so tired of educating random people who seem to think it is okay to ask (in front of my cognizant child) “where did you get her?” “how much did you pay for her?” “couldn’t you have your own?”
  7. That I would still be so happy to share our adoption story with random strangers who seemed to be genuinely interested or who just want to swap stories about their cousin Mabel who adopted or was adopted or has a secretary that wants to adopt.
  8. That I would reach a point of almost feeling angry when someone says Sabrina is lucky or we did such a good/charitable/Godly thing by adopting her.  We didn’t save her.  We adopted for selfish reasons not altruistic ones.  We wanted a family.
  9. That some times other adoptive parents would be the most guilty of this and want others to see them as having “saved” a child.
  10. That I would feel myself held to a higher parenting standard in public because my daughter is obviously adopted.  I feel like I can’t have a bad mommy day publicly because people will judge that differently than if I had one with Tessa.
  11. That I would come to love her so fiercely that when I found out I was pregnant, I would worry that I couldn’t possibly love another child as much as I already loved Sabrina.
  12. That I would feel twice (thrice?) the bittersweet joy and touch of sadness with every milestone Sabrina achieves because I feel like I am celebrating it for 3 women: myself, her birth mom, and her foster mom.  I will never forget that I am the lucky one in that trio.
  13. That I should have learned more Spanish more quickly so that I could have had a conversation with Sabrina’s foster mom without the agency person in the middle – I am almost positive she wasn’t translating so much as telling us what she wanted us to hear.
  14. That I could have not one single regret about our specific adoption (because how could I regret anything that brought this amazing girl to me?) but still have many worries and doubts about the circumstances that lead to adoption situations in general.
  15. That when I brought my daughter home to the US, I would be leaving a piece of my heart behind in Guatemala.
  16. That I would continue to worry that no matter what we do, Sabrina will grow up feeling a tremendous loss because she was adopted.
  17. That my husband and I would look at each other almost every single day and ask each other how we got so lucky as to have 2 such amazing, funny, bright, beautiful children.
posted under adoption
21 Comments to

“What No One Told Me About Adoption”

  1. On September 22nd, 2009 at 8:51 am Laura Says:

    Great post. Can relate to so many of your points. So many. I feel blessed beyond words. I am honored to call myself a mother because of adoption.

  2. On September 22nd, 2009 at 8:59 am Bobbi Says:

    OK, so this had me crying by the end. You are so right on all of those points. I am going to go over and check out the other sites!! The world of adoption has certainly brought me dear friends both near and far. Some who I certainly hold dearer to my heart than family

  3. On September 22nd, 2009 at 9:54 am Tonggu Momma Says:

    Your list truly resonated with me. I can’t even highlight one thing because so much of it rang true in my own life. I had never thought about our adoption friends being similar to war buddies, but – as a military brat and wife of a former Navy guy – I have to say I DO see the commonalities. Thanks for sharing your list!

  4. On September 22nd, 2009 at 11:06 am Tricia Says:

    Michelle, this post? Amazing. Incredible. Deep. Thoughtful. Poignant. This beautifully sums up so much. You wrote it brilliantly. Thanks for sharing your head & heart & spirit.

  5. On September 22nd, 2009 at 11:20 am Stephanie Says:

    Wow. I felt like I was reading my own heart. Thank you so much for sharing this. Truly. I am definitely going to check out the other posts.

  6. On September 22nd, 2009 at 11:31 am Cathy Says:

    eloquent, thoughtful, wise, and poignant – you perfectly summed up the mixed emotions that i think so many of us have felt and continue to feel when we reflect on adoption. thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  7. On September 22nd, 2009 at 11:53 am Muriel Says:

    Michelle-Number 11-I feel you, I felt the same way. Great post.

  8. On September 22nd, 2009 at 2:13 pm Kim Says:

    Yep, yep, yep, yep…..to all of them (well – except for the ones about Tessa!). I’m reminded every day about how blessed I am to have this amazing kid….and I think about his birth mom and foster mom every day as well.

  9. On September 22nd, 2009 at 2:28 pm Gardenia Says:

    so well said. it resonated with me. thanks.

  10. On September 22nd, 2009 at 3:10 pm Fran Says:

    Michelle: your words are very profound and moving. could you pm me when you have a minute? Thanks

  11. On September 22nd, 2009 at 9:04 pm Crystal Says:

    These are really interesting…and the weird part is that I could relate to many of them, except that I was thinking of my daughter and her liver transplant (and her donor’s family). Amazing how many of life’s most profound realizations/emotions/processes translate to other circumstances.

  12. On September 23rd, 2009 at 6:38 am Diane Says:

    Great Post. So well said. Thank you.
    Fellow Guate AMom in NYC

  13. On September 23rd, 2009 at 8:35 am Mera Ladd Says:

    oh that was a powerful post Michelle and I loved 8-11, b/c I feel the EXACT same way!

  14. On September 23rd, 2009 at 9:11 am debbie Says:

    Great post. I feel the same and you said it perfectly. I think about the women who sacrificed so much for my gain. I long to go back and pray that one day, we will meet and share our girls together.

  15. On September 23rd, 2009 at 1:41 pm Ellie Says:

    Yep… Absolutely… Always… You can say that again… I agree… Yes, you know all the right things to say… WOW… GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE~ And, Yes, I need to steal some of these too! THanks

  16. On September 23rd, 2009 at 5:36 pm Becky Says:

    This was an amazing post, and expresses so much that I feel as well. Things that you couldn’t really understand before becoming an adoptive parent. Thanks for putting it into words.

  17. On September 23rd, 2009 at 7:19 pm Andrea Says:

    Quite amazing. #1 started the tears welling up, and I was pretty much toast by #17. So true!

  18. On September 23rd, 2009 at 9:36 pm Nikki Says:

    Truly amazing honest post. I am right there with you on so many of your feelings!!

  19. On September 25th, 2009 at 7:17 am pickel Says:

    Like so many others, it rings true. With adoptive mothers, joy comes from someone elses heartache and it stinks, doesn’t it?

  20. On September 28th, 2009 at 5:28 am Heather Says:

    I have saved this and reread it so many times…all I can say is that you’ve written exactly what I feel (and apparently what a lot of others feel too) and I think that is why we all connect to each other so easily!

  21. On October 21st, 2009 at 3:21 pm Julie Lussier Says:

    (note my email changed from sergejulie@sbcglobal.net).
    Michelle, obviously I have not been here in a long time. I catch up when I can and you usually have me hysterically laughing and you did that too. But this post touched me so deeply. I am sitting here crying like a baby. You could have read my heart with this post on adoption. I have still so many emotions, especially as we approach Sydney’s final post placement visit (never had one with Matthew) and this is our 6th! I am just sobbing right now as I read and re-read your post. You hit it right on here.
    I pray hard that my children will feel as loved as I do being adopted. I pray that they do not go through some situations that I did, being adopted myself. I am scared to death when Matthew realizes that his skin is a different color. I so often forget that it is. I do not want that part to ever come into our home but I know it will. I ache for his birthmom so many days. I want her to just know the love he is receiving. That he is okay. At least with Sydney I can share that with her birthmom. As I look back on our agency and thought it was the best EVER and now I wonder…………a lot. Amazingly Matthew’s foster mom found me on facebook and she gets to share in his growth and leaves comments (although I don’t speak Spanish and she does not speak english) we manage. Wow. GREAT POST once again.

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