We adopted our daughter back in February of this year (2019), but I first became a mom a little over two years earlier when we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. We then went on to lose that baby, our son, Ellis, and three more babies after him before adoption brought us our beautiful girl.
That’s the story of our family in a nutshell. But to sum it up that way leaves out so much - like how the pain of losing our four biological children is still with me and how Parker has brought so much joy into our lives but babies don’t replace babies; like how sometimes those fears of inadequacy and unworthiness as a mother that arose out of our losses still creep up sometimes, but they just take a slightly different, adoption-tinged form; and like how I fear that all of this will one day negatively affect our daughter.
I read a book in the early stages of our adoption process in which the author, an adoptee, emphasized the need for hopeful adoptive parents who are coming to adoption after infertility or loss to have dealt with their feelings around their infertility so they can move on and not carry it with them into parenting their adopted child. I so wanted to do this. I wanted to have processed all my feelings about the babies we never got to meet and the physical and emotional experience of recurrent pregnancy loss before we brought a baby into our family through adoption. But pregnancy loss and infertility are not things that you simply work through one time and then it just goes away. It’s a process, one that you have to continually work through even after there’s a baby in your arms.
So, I’m learning to find ways to continue to process the journey that led us here, to her (hello therapy, journaling and ALL the prayer!). I’m learning to hold joy and grief in the same space. I’m learning to honor our heaven babies’ memories still, even with our earth side child. And I’m doing all of this while hopefully never putting this heaviness on our daughter or making her feel like she has to be the bandaid for my pain.
I think it’s pain that is suppressed, rather than felt, that can then be unconsciously pushed onto someone else to carry. So by connecting with my experience of loss, and feeling what I need to feel about it, not only am I serving my own emotional needs, but I am helping our daughter as well. And I like to think that setting that example for her will only serve to help her as she processes her own losses one day. Because while our losses are totally different - she lost a mother and I lost my babies- and I will never be able to understand the loss an adoptee feels because I am not one, both losses are deep and primal and both losses can shape you for better or for worse. My prayer is that we’re all shaped for the better.
Guest blogger: Kiersten, an adoptive mom
You can follow Kiersten on Instagram at : @vibrantlifearmywife