What Adoption Means to Me…

Adoption STAR’s Director of Adoption Kathy Crissey shares her thoughts on National Adoption Month, grief and loss, and being an adoptive parent.

kathy crisseyAs an adoptive mother I can say that adoption has only brought me happiness, joy and love. The children who I am honored to parent have certainly enriched my life in more ways than I can express. To say that I am forever grateful is an understatement.

However, this month and always, I am acutely aware that adoption is also full of grief and loss. When I am sitting with a woman who has placed her child I am keenly aware of the fact that she will forever grieve the loss of the daily relationship with her child and the need to have even made the decision to place. One can say that it takes a lot of self awareness to make a decision to place a child and it does, but it also takes an acceptance of the fact that grief and loss will be a forever part of their life journey. When I am sitting with a child who has been adopted I am keenly aware of the fact that they will always have differences from those who are not adopted. No matter how healthy the adoption journey is that child will always have a unique experience from those who are not adopted. When I am sitting with myself in the quiet, I too mourn the loss of the connection between my children’s biological families and their inability for my children to have this so very important connection. I mourn the lack of information for their birth parents as well and am acutely aware that placement was not a choice they would have made if circumstances did not dictate this.

This month brings a special awareness of the children and adolescents who are not in a forever family and do not have the gift of permanency. How is it that one can be expected at age 18 or 19 to begin their adulthood without the support and love of a family? When children “age out” in the foster care system they are left without the life long resources that we so often take for granted. National Adoption Month for me means an opportunity to educate and to spread awareness of the need for families not only for infants but also for toddlers, young children and adolescents. When I think of all of the challenges that adolescence can bring, it is hard to think about navigating this time in life alone.

While adoption has enriched my life like nothing else, I never want to lose sight of the myriad of challenges it can bring. I also never want to stop thinking about and working toward every child having a forever family. I would encourage everyone to educate themselves and think about what it would mean to bring a child from the foster care system into your home and your heart. Is it different from infant adoption? Absolutely. Is it a journey that will bring challenges and difficulty? Absolutely. Is it a decision that might forever change the life of a child? Absolutely!