Coexisting as an Adoptive Parent

It’s been 14 months since my son joined my family and I’m still learning how to navigate the complex and often times emotional world of being an adoptee who is also an adoptive parent. I’d like to think that as an adoptee I somehow have an inside advantage to understanding the nuances of adoption, but to be honest, there are moments when being adopted makes my relationship with my son that much more complicated.

Maybe post adoption is similar to mothers who give birth and experience postpartum depression because like these mothers, I didn’t feel a sense of euphoric joy and happiness that I’d expect following my son’s adoption. Instead, for the longest time, I felt a deep sense of guilt for adopting him. Sometimes when my son is sleeping and he wakes up crying out for his foster mother or when he makes up songs by singing, “Family-mommy, daddy, M,” it’s especially in these beautiful yet heartbreaking moments when I wonder how could I take my son away from his foster mother, his culture, and everything familiar.

Not only has my son’s adoption created feelings of guilt, but it’s also triggered many strong emotions and more questions about my own adoption. How do I avoid projecting my feelings about my adoption on to what he’s experiencing? Some days I want to be able to shut off my thoughts and pretend we’re not an adoptive family in order to be free from the expectations and pressures of adoption.

I’m beginning to understand how my son’s adoption will affect and define our relationship. He and I will always have the shared experience of being adoptees. Perhaps it will take time to be completely comfortable coexisting in the spaces of being an adoptee and an adoptive parent-a unique relationship which can feel all too familiar, yet entirely uncertain at the same time.