I have worked hard to educate myself and M about the unique experiences we will have with adoption, the losses we are and will experience. I don't want to be blindsided by some unexplored grief when I should be busy encouraging attachment with my new little one. Here is a list of a few losses I've thought of that may cause us pain even in our joy of adoption:
A child who looks like M and I - Since we started trying to get pregnant almost 4 years ago, I have asked myself how I would feel raising a child that bore no resemblance to us. Did I want a child so I could see M's eyes and my hair? Was that my main motivation for having a baby? I have spent a lot of time over the past year doing soul searching and making sure I am comfortable with our child looking nothing like us, but I know in my heart of hearts that I can't truly mourn that loss until it is made manifest in whatever child we end up adopting. I hope, though, that I have prepared myself as much as possible.
Breastfeeding - I feel very conflicted about this topic. On one hand, I would be very sad to not be able to breastfeed my child because I do feel it is best for them and is an opportunity for so much comfort and attachment. On the other hand, it is possible to breastfeed your adopted child- but I don't know if I could go through the artificial stimulation and then the social reaction to me breastfeeding my trans-racially adopted child (if that ended up being our situation). Am I allowed to be sad about something that I did sort of have a choice over and chose not to pursue?
Naming rights - "Alice Clara Belle". I have never told a soul that name. That is the name that I chose for our now never-to-be biological daughter. I had that name picked out for about 2 years, back when I was so sure we could still have a baby. It is a first name of Germanic origin (both M and I have German heritage, among others) and a middle name from my maternal grandmother's first name. I never told my grandma that I had wanted to use her name - I was afraid to raise her hopes when we might not get pregnant. Now she has died and I can never tell her, though I guess it hardly matters since I won't ever have a biological daughter. I thought briefly about hanging onto this name for an adopted daughter, but it feels wrong somehow. This was a name specially chosen for a child that would share our heritage. With an adopted child, we will have so many new considerations: the wishes of the birth family, the heritage of the birth family, and just the way a name can "fit" a child. And I feel wrong about saddling a trans-racially adopted child with such a "white" name, if that makes any sense at all. Still, I'm sad over the loss of this choice. The loss of heritage. The loss of carrying on a family name. I mourn these things now and I will continue to grieve when a baby is placed in my arms.
A purely joyful beginning of life - I will write on this more in another post, but there is sadness and loss in the very first days of an adopted person's life. Loss of their biological connection. Loss of the only familiar person. Our child's homecoming will be bittersweet and there is nothing I can do but accept it and grieve with them. This is something no biological family need do, but is critical for an adopted family. The loss is real, even for a tiny infant. *I* am a stranger and "mother" is the woman they are not with. With time, that will change, but it is still something I will have to grieve right along side my baby.
Adoption is such an emotional journey - one that lasts for the lifetime of the adopted person. I am trying to learn and adjust, and to stretch my heart to make room for all the feelings, good and bad, which are to come. I pray that by doing this, I can see with clear eyes and do what is right by my child, and not just what I think is best for myself and M.