"Oh, I bet you were surprised!"
"What a miracle!"
I know those phrases don't seem like much but with this pregnancy, I was really hoping I wouldn't hear those things too much. Mostly I was hoping not to hear the last one.
To some degree, both carry this connotation that our first three adoptions were perhaps a result of an inability to have our "own" children and I think that this is the preconceived idea many have about adoptive families. Let me say though that for us, this was not exactly how we came to adoption. (And I am in no way dismissing those families who came to adoption because of infertility or other issues that make having biological children complicated. Their stories are authentic and valuable. Our story is just different, not better, just different.)
I came to adoption because I believed it was the right way for me to start a family. (Said as a single person.) After spending several week as an 18 year old in Romanian orphanages, less than a decade after communism fell, I simply could not know what I knew and not make a choice to adopt. I shared that belief with D before we were married and he was on board with that choice. Sometimes that belief has been misconstrued by others as an attempt to save the world or to "help" kids but it is more than that. It's a deeply held belief that says "Every child deserves a family. I desire to be a parent and it seems like common sense to be a parent to a child who needs a family." Love, reigned in by an understanding of the practical side of adoption, has been the motivation.
So words that indicate that perhaps adoption was a last resort or a second best attempt to form a family just sit badly with me. (And I think for families who have experienced infertility, etc., who maybe even did only consider adoption because of that, would still say the same thing. That yes, they had to consider another option, one they might not have considered but in no way is it second best.) Mostly, I just don't want things like that said around my children.
The implication that my pregnancy is a miracle negates the other ways I have seen God at work in my life. Yes, it true that we did not have biological children and that there might have been an aspect of infertility at some point (after Kenson came home) but the reality is, we really didn't care nor did we take any time to try to discern if there was an issue. And yes, I think most people consider any pregnancy a miracle. I would just hope a pregnancy following an adoption would not seem more miraculous.
The reality is my other children were birthed to birth moms in miraculous ways and then birthed again into an adoptive family in yet another miraculous way. I have two children who are from a country where the infant mortality rate is over 7% and where almost 9% of the children do not live past the age of 5, where treatable things like cholera, malaria, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea are often deadly, where malnutrition contributes to death. I have another child who was born in a poor province of China but who is considered disabled by most of the world because of his hands. His future in China (and many other countries) would probably be that of an adult who was unable to work at an honest job, not because his disability really hampered him but because social stigma would prevent anyone from hiring him. Add in a crazy plan that somehow transplanted them into our family and I can't help but feel a deep sense of how God-sized the task of adoption is. I don't, for a moment, want any of my children to feel "less than" or "plan b."
No judgement if you've said those words to me or someone else. (Really, I have been blessed by so many simple "congratulations!" and not the words I am writing about today.) Just a call to consider how your words might sound to the itty bitty ears of children who are listening or to the heart of a mom who values all of her kids and their "birth" stories.