2 Reasons Adoption Day Is Bittersweet

The Yin Yang, the Chinese symbol of two opposite forces combining together to form a whole. The forces are interdependent on each other. As one moves, so does the other. Light and dark. Good and evil. Joy and sadness. Could adoption be described any other way? Adoption is a living, breathing Yin Yang.

The adoption world is a tricky one to navigate. My husband and I live in our own little world. It is hard to view things from the perspective of another. As adoptive parents, we are overjoyed at the privilege of raising the two lives we have been given to parent. Our gratitude is so overwhelming that it is not always easy to see that our children may not be as elated to be a part of our family. If we are not careful, our joy could crowd out our recognition of our children’s pain.

This puts Adoption Day in an unusual category. Adoption Day rolls around each year in our house. I am never sure what to do. Our children are still young. At four and six they get excited about anything that puts a special focus on them, especially if it means presents. But every year I wonder if celebrating is the right thing.

On one hand, there is something to celebrate. We get the opportunity to be a family. We have two beautiful lives to raise. Our children have a mom, dad, and sibling. It is wonderful to be able to share our lives in such a way.

On the other hand, there is loss. Our children were separated from their biological families and Adoption Day may very well serve as a reminder that they are no longer part of their original families.

What is a gain for our family came at the expense of a tremendous loss for another. Our children are caught in the middle feeling both the joy and the sorrow of each side. Right now there is excitement over gifts or special outings to celebrate. I am all too aware that there may be a time coming where Adoption Day may bring some pain in place of the elation they feel right now. 

For our family, we continue to celebrate as long as our children want to celebrate. We try to keep communication lines open. Sometimes I will point out to our six-year-old things that may make adoptees sad just to give him to space to talk about his experience with it. I want both of our children to know that we are aware that adoption may not be all celebration to them, and that is okay.

Adoption Day is one of those things we talk about. I listen to hear what they are saying. Children are great at telling us what they think we want to hear. Ours is no different. We try to make sure they see that we are comfortable handling their pain so that it doesn’t get lost in their attempts to please us.

To celebrate or not celebrate is the question at hand. Talk to your child(ren) and let them be your guide. Let it be theirs to decide.