My. Children. Are. Not. Second. Best.

First, before anything else - thank you, EVERYONE, for your pep talks yesterday. I needed them, very selfishly, and they did me an amazing amount of good. This blanket thank you will be followed by individual thanks and a little more explanation of why I'm so in the dumps, but I just want everyone to know that I really, REALLY appreciate it.

Suz and several others suggested writing prompts - yes please! Suz brought one to my attention right out of the gate, too. I'm glad Judy spoke out about it - you gave me the oomph to put my thoughts out there, too, J.

My. Children. Are. Not. Second. Best.

I say this having come to adoption from infertility, and having resisted adoption for a good bit of time while I tried to beat my body into submission. But although adoption may have been the chronologically second action I took to have children, by God the children in my family are second to no child Third Dad and I might have conceived and born.

I'd lay down my life for them in a New York second. I say that not because I'm pretending they came from my body - good grief, how do you do THAT in a transnational, transracial adoption? - but because of who they are. Children of Korean parents I hope they meet and know and love one day. Distinct and amazing individuals.

I could say I'm glad I'm infertile, but I won't. Those years of battling my uncooperative body were hell, pure hell. But with twenty years of parenting behind me, I can say with 100% certainty: Had I become pregnant and given birth to two children instead of adopting, I would have loved them no differently than I love my two amazing kids. If anything, adoption was an epiphany for me, an awakening to the fact that we as human beings possess a capacity to love that can cross any boundary we want it to - blood, race and ethnicity included. It's up to us, and having exercised it, I know that once you do, everything changes.

All this said, I know that many adoptees feel differently. That feeling of second best is a painful part of their experience. I think the typical chronology of infertility treatment followed by adoption makes it inherent, and is something adoptive parents like me, who come to adoption after infertility treatment, need to understand clearly for their children's sakes. I can't change that in my own experience, I can only love my kids with ever fiber of my being. And if someday they question why we didn't adopt first, I will tell them the truth: That like many others on the planet, my body wanted the experience of pregnancy and I tried. But never, ever have I regretted that my journey brought me somewhere else.

To have experienced the love I feel for The Boy and The Girl is the truest kind of blessing. I say this with eyes open to the losses, losses I honor and respect and hope one day are lessened in reunion. I say it loudly and clearly to prospective adoptive parents who come to adoption thinking they might not be able to love an adopted child as much as one born to them - resolve those feelings or please don't adopt. I say it to adoptive parents who are questioning their feelings for their children in light of the debate - don't question, just love. And I say it to every adoptee who lives with the pain, in the hope it gives another perspective.

My. Children. Are. Not. Second. Best.

Comments

Heather said…
Amen. A thousand times amen.
abebech said…
Beautiful, Margie.
shoed contessa said…
Beautifully said.

It's awful to think of the depth of hurt that some adoptees must carry around with them to feel like they're second best, but my own children will never, ever be a consolation prize to me. It's unthinkable. I hope that they will know that truth in every single cell of their bodies.
Judy said…
Bravo, Margie. Beautifully said.
Eastiopians said…
I just found your blog today after searching google for "korea adoption blog." My husband and I want to adopt our second child. I am so glad that I found your site (your sight). I want to see more of the "big picture" from parents and children who have been through it and are in it now. You are in it, and please keep writing.
Lisa V said…
I have always said I am grateful for the fertility problems we suffered. It brought me to the path that led to my child. They were painful, but I would suffer them 10 times over to know my beautiful child.

I am not minimizing her loss or the loss of her parents. My joy does not triumph their pain. However for anyone to imply that my child was second choice kills me. We started talking about adoption on our second date, two years before we tried to have a baby. Six months after we started trying and suffered a miscarriage we were ready to adopt. We couldn't. We had to be officially infertile for our agencie's standards. A year later we were.

I cannot speak for every infertile person who then moves on to adopt, but in no way is my child lesser because she does not share my genetics and I did not carry her.

And really, by making such statements, people are hurting adoptees most of all who have no choice or voice in their adoption. It reinforces stereotypes.
Paragraphein said…
Margie,

Read your previous post earlier today and have been mulling on it.

In it you said that we don't need you to speak for us. You're right, we don't need someone speaking FOR us... but we do need people speaking WITH us. And that is what you do: speak with us. And that is so valuable, in so many ways; but the way it's most important to me personally is this: when I read one of your posts on first moms, I feel less alone.

There are very, very few things that ease the hurt of adoption on my end, but seeing adoptive parents speak WITH us, seeing adoptive parents who "get it" and validate us instead of dismissing us, that is huge.

Regarding: second-best. My daughter is not second-best in her parents' eyes, either. Not one single bit. I know that, in the depths of my soul. It may be a truth for some aparents, but it's not for all. As angry as I sometimes am at her parents, it's never out of how they treat her or love her.
Tammy said…
Thank you for every word.
Mei-Ling said…
[an awakening to the fact that we as human beings possess a capacity to love that can cross any boundary we want to]

Beautifully said.

Also I read your
other "infertility"
post and I was very touched by your honesty and your willingless to understand the loss of adoptees.

I'm still not overly convinced that I wasn't "second choice" regardless of whether or not I am here now, but I thank you very much for bringing that perspective to the table. That is such a wonderful way of looking at it and again, I thank you for your honesty.

- Mei-Ling
Suz Bednarz said…
Question: Do you think we might be missing the point here? As I said on Dawns, while all the adoptive parents come out and proclaim "not me, my kids are number one" are we not ignoring the adoptees who do feel this? Is this really about adoptive parents proving how much they love their children? Or is it about validating the feelings of children past, present and future?

I am seeing this from such a different angle.

Was the woman rude? You bet but in her rudeness she validated many adoptees and made many adoptive parents all defensive, no?
Cassi said…
Okay, I don't know if I will get bombed here or not for being a first mom, but I needed to jump in here and say - you are right - your child is not second best. I say that, not because you said it yourself, but because of what I see in your blog. I see a mom who is willing to do, and learn, whatever is out there for one reason and one reason only - for the benefit of your children. You aren't sitting in a cloud telling everyone else they are wrong and have no clue. You listen and then you form your opinion. To me, that gives you so much more than any "statement" you could make in a blog.

In my opinion, any "mom," can make the claim her children are not second best. But only those, like you, who actually prove it over and over again, are the ones to be believed.
abebech said…
Suz asks "are we not ignoring the adoptees who do feel this?" and it's a good question. It's something I've been bothered by in my own response.
Yet at the same time, I feel that if I don't respond, if I let it (what the original commenter said, the response that she was "honest" as if saying otherwise is dishonest) stand, I am tacitly agreeing that *this is how aparents feel* about their children. I know my daughter doesn't read blogs yet, but I'm always measuring what I say -- and what I don't say -- in relationship to how she as an adult might be affected by my words or my silence.
Rebecca said…
Margie,

I love your blog - I am a faithful reader. I happen to be an adoptive mom, but not an infertile one. My husband and I chose adoption as our first and only choice to grow our family. We did not do this to "save a child" (either from poverty, or in some religious manner.) We simply wanted to respect our planet's overcrowded state and her limited resources by becoming parents to children already on this earth (rather than bringing new ones into it.) And granted, selfishly, we wanted to be parents!
With all this said, I obviously cannot comment as a parent that experienced the pain of infertility. But I can comment on your feelings towards your children. I absolutely mirror them. My children are the two most important people in the entire world to me. I cannot imagine loving them, fighting for them, protecting them, thinking about them as a first thought to any decision, & cherishing them any more that I do. I cannot fathom a child being born to me as any less precious. Biology has always held very little importance to my husband and I, and we've never felt the need to procreate. Does this mean my children will never feel like second best? I cannot say. I hope not, but frankly, I doubt it. There is so much pain and loss associated with their early childhood trauma. We cannot love it away - but we can recognize it, try to understand it's validity, and support them as best we can - as ANY loving parent would do with ANY child they call their own, whether bio or adopted.

I'm glad you got some support from your readers on your past entry. Please count me in as one of them, wishing you well and hoping to hear a lot more from you.
Kohana said…
I'm glad our pep talks gave you a boost. You seem super-boosted by the energy of this post. :)
Margie said…
Thanks everyone, really. You know, maybe this is the first post in awhile where I honestly felt my own voice again. Sometimes I guess it just goes away and you have to find it.

Suz, honestly you have ESP woman!! I had class tonight, and all the way home I thought about exactly what you are saying. I touched on it a little bit at the end, but yes - this is an issue that a-parents can't speak for adoptees on. No matter how much we love our kids, we may not be able to fix the sense that they simply weren't first in our hearts and minds.

Will post on that, for sure.
Cavatica said…
We adopted as a first choice. However, I hear many adoptive parents who do so as a second choice, who still love their children as number one. I think it's natural to think of using biology first, but as adaptable creatures we can make our second choices number one. Those who can't shouldn't adopt.

Glad you found your voice - not that I realized you lost it.
suz said…
Also, flip this around, maybe adoptees like to hear they are second choice becuase it makes them feel better that for them, their adoptive parents are second choice. They would rather have had their first choice.

Just a thought....

Hearing that an adoptive parent admits to a child being second choice gives some odd psychological permission to adoptees to acknowledge their adoptive parents (not matter how much they love them) are also, second choice. They would have preferred to NOT be adopted.
Margie said…
Exactly, Suz.

People want to be with the families that gave them life first and foremost. Why should people, including adoptive parents, expect adoptees to feel differently?

Adoption does that, though. Some adoptive parents do, too. And the more I think about this, the harder I realize it is for adoptees. Very very hard.
abebech said…
That's interesting, Suz.
I upset a lot a people awhile ago acknowledging that I am not first choice for my child (I'm far down the line, honestly) in the abstract. I can acknowledge that to my daughter. I can survive her feeling that her life as an adoptee (transracial, transnational) is unideal (sometimes I think adoptive parents think they couldn't survive that feeling and transmit that fear to their children). But I don't accept that in the specific, as a family we're second rate . . .
Cavatica said…
My husband and I agree that we are probably third best for our daughter. First best would have been with her birth family. Second best to stay in her birth country. We are third and we can live with that. I hope she can too.
YOU DID!!! Thank you.
Anonymous said…
I was adopted, although not within a transracial family, so I apologize that I can't relate to that, but as an adoptee there's no way in this world that I would rather have been with my birth parents. (Not b/c my birth parents were abusive or bad people b/c they weren't). I would choose my adoptive parents FIRST a million times over-I'm thankful to my birth parents for what they did-because my adoptive parents are my first choice and will remain so as they are truly my only choice and my real parents. Not everyone feels this way, but I do, so there's a different perspective. People form families in many different ways-who cares how-I don't care about blood or biology-there are some kids that were born to their parents but are miserable and have horrible relationships with them-obviously having the same genes doesn't make everything wonderful and ideal in all cases-being blood-related doesn't always make a family a happy family, nor an ideal one. Before you make a statement, please realize all experiences are different and a family blood or not, is a family, meant to be by God.
Third Mom said…
Anon, thanks for commenting. Re this:

"Before you make a statement, please realize all experiences are different and a family blood or not, is a family, meant to be by God."

I apologize if what you read here implied to you that I was saying all experiences were the same - that was definitely not my intention.

What I was trying to say was that adoption is incredibly complicated, but that there is nothing "second best" about the relationship or the people involved. I absolutely don't feel second best as a parent, and I don't believe my children view my husband and me that way either. I just try to be respectful of their genetic connections and heritage while loving them with all my heart. And we are definitely a family, a very close family at that.

Again, my apologies if this post said something different to you. Thanks again for your thoughts, I appreciate them!
blackbelt said…
How often, when we think it is second best, that God had ordained it Best Best. He just had to wait until we went through whatever we thought we had to, before finally getting where God wanted us. I believe only a benevolent God can take something so painful and sad and bring about from it such joy and promise and growth.

I know many adoptees don't feel that way. I hope my son will.

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