I’ve been thinking a lot lately about children as gifts and the implications it has for those of us who relinquish those same children. I’m not arguing that children aren’t gifts. I believe all children are gifts to those that are fortunate enough to be involved in their lives, and I don’t think you’ll find a single parent, birth parent or otherwise, that would disagree with me.
The hazard with thinking of children as gifts, however, comes when we think of them as gifts to give another family. I believe I’ve said before how strongly I feel that children have families already when they are conceived. You as a pregnant woman were your child’s family even if no other biological relative wanted to be involved. When you signed away your legal rights to that child that did not mean that you signed away your motherhood as well. No legal document can ever diminish the fact that you are still family to that child. You are still that child’s mother.
When we choose a family for our child and subsequently sign away parental rights to that child, we are not giving that family the gift of a child. We are giving our child the gift of an additional family that is better equipped to raise him or her than you feel you are at the time.
I’ve spoken on my own blog several times of the importance of adoption as a whole needing to be focused on the child and not focused on the parents. That doesn’t mean no support is needed at all for the parents involved. What it does mean is that we support the parents of that child by focusing on that child. I’ve heard this attitude described as “finding a home for every child” instead of “finding a child for every home.” That says it so completely and correctly. When we consider ourselves as giving a gift of a child to the adoptive family, we’re “finding a child for every home.” We’re not finding a home for that child. Our focus is put on the hopeful adoptive family instead of on that child.
I’m not saying that we can’t or shouldn’t look at the positives for the family that is adopting our child as well. In my own situation, though I didn’t choose Mack’s parents for their happiness, it does make me happy that they’re happy with my daughter. I still did not place Mack with them for their happiness. It was a side benefit as I like to see my “gifts” appreciated. If Mack grows up surrounded by an adoptive family that love her and take wonderful care of her, then the gift I gave to her will truly be realized and fulfilled. It will make me happy seeing that she likes the gift I gave to her. It will make me happy to see her contentment with the family that I chose.
I’ll close with this thought. It’s okay to think of your child as a gift. Mack was and is a wonderful, life-changing gift. But when you give your child an additional family, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you’re giving the gift of your child to those people. Think of yourself as giving the gift of an additional, more-prepared family to your child.