Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Reader Asks "Have You Changed Your View?"

I love, love, love it when you all respond to posts and challenge me to think deeper about things. You have no idea how truly helpful it is as I wrestle with the same issues you all do, to have someone who respectfully and kindly says essentially..."Hey, what's up with that?". It forces me to examine things, to clarify in my own mind what I feel to be true and in my opinion, it makes me a better parent.

Yesterday I received a comment from a wonderful blogger herself, Kim, and so I thought I'd pull it to the front of the blog here and walk through it. You can find one of Kim's many blogs at . Relating to my post this past week of "Moral Dilemmas" Here is what she asked me:

I love reading your blog. Your heart always shows in each and every post. However this one left me a bit confused. It seems as if you are saying now that you understand the pain involved in losing a referral. That it doesn't matter if it were a child the PAP never met, because they loved that child despite never really knowing them. Even comparing it to a miscarriage. BUT... in at least one past post you wrote that you didn't believe people truly loved a referral child. That they couldn't truly love a child they had never met. (i remember this because as a parent who lost a referral i did not agree with your point of view) You even stated that it is not really love when you do first meet the child, that love takes time. So have you now changed your view on this???

Kim, thanks for this...I really am serious when I say I appreciate not only your tone but the comment itself. I went back and re-read my post 3 or 4 times which was something I don't usually do. I wanted to see if I had conveyed something in writing which I didn't intend. I think your comment warrants being addressed with sincerity, especially in the light of all that is going on in Kyrgyzstan right now with 60+ parents in limbo with kids they have been referred who might never come home or children they have even met who also are in limbo. While we all hope this doesn't prove to be true and these kids are eventually remains a possibility that they will become victims of bureaucracy.

First, let me answer your, I have not changed my views. I'll explain them in a moment as I look back at the post but before that...let me make it clear that these are ONLY my views, and I don't expect others to hold them. All of us are different, and I respect the fact that many, many people disagree with me on much of what I have to say...and that's cool in my book. I am not someone who feels it is my job in this world to convince others of my infallibility or that the opinions I hold are the only "right" ones. Some people will read what I write and say to themselves "Yea, I totally get that" and others will say "What a crock!". Both are equal in merit when laid over the text of someones personal experience and perspective.

Now, you have mentioned how in previous posts I have discussed how I don't feel people can really love a child referred to them that they have never met, that love takes time. I still feel that what emotions are experienced with a child who is referred but not met is the idea of the potential for love. Staring at a photo for months of a child you hope to embrace builds connections, it stirs our imagination, it creates hope of a longed for future together as we see ourselves in the role of parent...often for the first time. For me (and again, I reiterate it is only my opinion) what I felt pre-adoption and what I felt post-adoption, maybe after a bit of time getting to know my children, was very, very different...real love takes time, it takes actually KNOWING someone to build, otherwise in my mind it is being in love with an ideal not a reality...and that reality may prove to be very different from the ideal that was long held. If I take it a step further and we call it a "husband" and not a "child" and you had a photo of him, would you be able to say you love him without ever having met him? I couldn't...perhaps some could.

And I think if you asked a parent who had lost a referral in adoption and perhaps lost a child they had parented in real life which caused the most pain, well, hands down I can pretty much tell you which would have the dubious distinction of being "the winner". One is the death of a cherished is the death of a dream of how cherished a child might end up being.

But my opinion on this is known already and no need to belabor that any further...your main question was if I had changed it based upon my recent post. As I re-read it looking for signs of what you were asking I didn't see a diverging opinion.

You wrote "It seems as if you are saying now that you understand the pain involved in losing a referral. That it doesn't matter if it were a child the PAP never met, because they loved that child despite never really knowing them." Just because something causes great pain, it doesn't mean it stems from deep and abiding love. We can be hurt in many ways, we can suffer great disappointment, we can experience incredible pain at the loss of a referral. But what are we really losing? Are we losing a child we have parented and nurtured? No. Are we losing what we imagined might one day be the love of our lives? Yes. I DO want to add an exception here, and that is for those parents who have traveled and met their children but are in limbo. That is excluded from this as there has already been the development of a relationship.

Understanding the pain of a lost referral is easy...I have been there myself. It hurts, it hurts badly, and yes I compared it to a miscarriage. But if you go back and re-read my post you will see that I never used the word "love", because for me that would be false. To say that it is a loss is true, and a stinging one at that. But, for me, to think of losing one of my children now versus in the referral stage is no would cause me to be disappointed and feel sorrow for a long time, the other would make me want to join them in death. In my mind, THAT is the defining difference, THAT is what it feels like when someone you love dies. I couldn't honestly say I felt that when we lost our referral years ago...and with time and distance (again, I never met those children) they are but a dim memory whom I pull to the forefront of my mind and mentally send out good wishes for a happy life. If my children whom I actually LOVE died, that memory would never dim, that loss would never leave, my grief would feel eternal.

But a loss is still a loss and needs to be acknowledge and worked through. The longer you have that photo taped to the fridge the harder it is to let go of that dream. I myself have held onto that dream longer than most who will ever read this blog, so I feel comfortable in speaking to that.

I guess Kim, for me it all comes down to our differing definitions of what constitutes "love". We all have our own understanding of that, mine obviously conflicts with yours...or maybe it is that we both see "love" as beginning at different stages. But I will readily acknowledge that there is a huge sense of loss that comes with a lost referral...maybe what I am questioning is "What was lost?". Was it the loss of a loved one? Or the loss of a prospective loved one? In my mind, there is a huge difference, in the minds of many others there is not.

When I referred in my post to: "We don't walk into adoption with our hearts closed or duct taped shut. We fling the shutters of our hearts wide open, waiting for "our" child or children to appear. Our barriers are almost non-existent, which in my mind is a good thing as that means we are being prepared by God to accept this unknown little person as one of our own." Notice I again don't say "love" anywhere within. I am speaking of our hearts being prepared to love, that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in this process and that makes it all hurt that much more. For if we do not allow our hearts to be clean slates for our new children to write on, it makes the development of that love that much harder.

I am not sure if I have made any sense here addressing your question. I already know you respectfully disagree with me in the first place. What is important to me though is that we both have come together here to share this differing perspective, that we are both being true to ourselves, and we are honoring each others unique journeys. In my mind, that is what it is all about! Thanks for following along, thanks for your respect...I very much feel the same for you!


Michelle said...

i have lost a referral and I may be in the process of losing another one..I just don't know. Maybe I am cold...but I knew going into both of my adoptions that no referral is your child until you and your new child drop that sealed packet off in the immigration office after you land in the US. So when I lost my was not the heartbreak that some PAP's experience. However, I too understand that some people don't build that wall that I have to protect themselves from heartbreak and I understand that their pain is really...real. So I totally get where you are coming from with your seemingly dichotomous posts.

Kim said...

Thank you for addressing my question and for doing so in a respectful way.

I do totally agree with you on the point that the love for my children is completely and totally different than what I felt for my referral child. I think our difference of opinion comes not from having a different perspective of what love IS. I think it is more a matter of my belief that there are different kinds and different levels of love. And maybe the fact that I have had the chance to talk with Pavel's mom and see photos of him in his life here in America has kept me connected in a way that others have not had and that makes those feelings keep from vanishing as time goes by. I still get to love him as a caring friend.

You stated, "And I think if you asked a parent who had lost a referral in adoption and perhaps lost a child they had parented in real life which caused the most pain, well, hands down I can pretty much tell you which would have the dubious distinction of being "the winner". "
And of course there is NO arguing that!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy- Have you ever considered writing a book of essays on adoption? You would have a best seller on your hands--and you'd help so many people by encouraging deeper thought and discussions on adoption-related topics. And much of it is written anyway, right here in your blog! Mishelle

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

Well stated and accurate, as always, Cindy!!

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