When I was first thinking about adoption I spoke and listened to a lot of people about the pros and cons of building a family this way. One of the major things that worried me was that the child might have such anger issues that we would not be able to build a relationship. I knew I was going to try to adopt a child who was five to ten years old. As a single parent I did not want a new child coming in and needing to go to daycare right away so a school age child was going to have a better transition to my life. Yet, the research told me that the older the child, the more anger issues he/she may have.
The second thing that worried me was the idea that a child might live with me for a short time and then be sent back with her biological parents. The idea that I would fall in love with MY child and then have to send her back to a place she had been taken from because they weren't doing their job in the beginning just made me heartbroken.
I got over the first concern by taking the DCF class which is a ten week mandatory class for anyone who wants to foster/adopt through social services. I knew there would be lots of support for myself and my child and that we would get through the anger. It stopped scaring me about the second week of class and I knew I would be fine. But the other worry loomed large and DCF could do nothing to make any of us in that class feel better about things. Yes, if you tried to adopt a child who was not legally free for adoption (legally free means parents rights have been terminated and they cannot fight for their child back) there was a chance you could lost your child back to the biological parents.
This awful news almost stopped me from starting my family. I tried to picture it every way that I could and however I could I did not see myself handing back my child. I even pictured us crossing the border and starting a different life to avoid losing her.
I told my friend Nancy I was not sure I could adopt because of this looming issue. It felt too big for me. It would be too much and I did not want to bring that kind of heartbreak into my life. Nancy did not even take a second to think about it before she said, "Jen, all relationships are temporary." These were the words that changed how I felt about going for adoption but also how I felt about life. We are not guaranteed anyone in our lives forever. We are not even guaranteed the next day. We need to give all that we can in our relationships right this moment because the next moment is never guaranteed even when a child is born from our own bodies. We have almost no control over when people leave our lives, but we have control over how we treat them while they are with us. After that I went forward fully and never looked back. I decided I would love my child forever and I would be with her physically for whatever time I was allowed. It was my best decision ever.
There is a footnote to this story though. When I told my mom what Nancy said, my mom disagreed slightly. Thank God she did and that we had that conversation because I think of it often. Mom told me that she believed all physical relationships are temporary but death does not mean an end to a relationship, only a change. Think about that. "Death does not mean an end to a relationship, only a change." Beautifully put mom, beautifully put.