Adoption: The Fine Print

I read a twitter post the other day that said: “What’s written between the lines is more important than what’s written on the lines.”

Honestly, I was offended by it. Immediately I set out to refute it in any way I could. I even started writing three different blog posts about how wrong it was, but I couldn’t complete them for one reason or another. Suffice it to say I don’t agree.

Why might you ask? Because I have had people “misunderstand” what I’ve said in written form and all but persecute me for their misunderstanding all because they didn’t read the words on the page and instead assumed what they read between the lines was the most important thing … no matter how wrong they were.

The problem with what is written between the lines is that it is personal to whoever is reading it, to their mood, the happenings of their day, their past, their insecurities, their life experience. Like writing in first person POV, it is flawed before it ever begins. Those things written between the lines are unreliable, fleeting, changeable.

And yet, there are times when I find the writing-between-the-lines speaking to me.

Like today (and many others like this). Today is “one of those days” with our teenage daughter. She’s being a rude, disrespectful, stubborn, dramatic, know-it-all. Yeah, basically she’s a teen.

But she’s not like every other teen in one big way. We adopted her at the age of eleven.

(Before you go all knives and bombs on me … walk in my shoes. )

The adoption judge told us, point blank, “If you sign this contract of adoption you are agreeing that this child is yours just as much as any child you gave birth to. There is no difference. You are agreeing that you will not refer to her as your adopted child or give up on her and try to give her back or otherwise make her feel as if she isn’t a part of your family in every way.”

Okay. We agreed.

Problem is … no one explained that to the kid. And no matter what our agreement or intent, she has always had her own.

I have regretted the decision to adopt her many times over … probably as many times as I have applauded our decision to adopt her. And no matter what anyone says adopting a child is not like having one of your own because of one little thing.

They always know they have someone else with whom they share blood out there in the world and they want to meet them and have dreams that somehow that family will be everything perfect in the world that they don’t have now.

That thought is ever present in their mind and as adoptive parents there is no way to remove it. Ever. Not even when they find out the absolute worst about their biological family and why they were given up for adoption. They’ve held on to the belief that life is better and somehow perfect somewhere else their entire life and no amount of truth will dislodge it.

As adoptive parents we are fighting constantly against “what is written between the lines” in their life. Striving to be better than an unknown ideal of perfection that we can never achieve.

It isn’t OUR viewpoint, it isn’t what WE see between the lines.

It’s their monster that we can’t even begin to understand, let alone fight or conquer. And yet we’re the ones left dragged through the dirt and mud, trampled on by boots and words, emotionally ripped to shreds, and then left to rot in the summer sun.

No, adopting a child is not like giving birth to one. But if you hang on to the end, you know that you have loved someone else in a way that is harder than you’ve ever loved anyone else. If you can adopt a child, you can do anything, survive anything, conquer anything.

What’s written between the lines is not more important than what’s written on the page but it can have a significant impact on your life. Being aware of what might be there is important but the words are what counts.

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2 thoughts on “Adoption: The Fine Print

  1. For what its worth, when they offered my cousin thr chance to trace his birth parents he said no for the same reason he gave when other kids picked on him for it: His adoptive parents chose him. They wanted him. The birth parents did not choose, they had to accept whomever they were given.

    • From the families I know, your cousin is an exception. I’d say it would have to do with the personality of the child and when they were adopted as well. Our daughter knows both of her biological parents are dead but she still wants to find them and any other family she might have. Our nephew was the same way. He couldn’t wait to move out of his adoptive parents home to find his bio family and they adopted him at birth. Shrug.

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