Tag Archives: transracial adoption

If I’m being honest… Adjusting to life as a transracial adoptive family of 5

On April 6, my family officially became a Family of 5!  Although we have been functioning that way for several months, it was meaningful and symbolic to move forward together.  Since the beginning of our journey with our girls, we have received an abundance of support and encouragement from friends and family near and far.  This has been a true gift to us.  In addition to that, I have also been asked one question more than any other, so I thought I would answer it here.

“How are you adjusting to life as a family of 5?”

There is a quick and sincere answer to that question- I am doing well.  We all are.  Life is chaotic, exhausting, confusing, and amazing.  But what else is new.  The simple answer is, “We are good. Life is good.”

Nothing negates the simple answer, but if you have a little more time and you genuinely want to know, I can dig a little deeper.  Because honestly, life is good, and it is also more than that.  Life is hard.  I have three kids now, so… there’s that.  I became a mother of three in an unconventional way, and I am still figuring it out. They are so opinionated.  And hungry.  And human.  And just when I think I have one figured out, that kid goes and does something completely unprecedented, and all bets are off.  Life is hard, yet rich with insight and perspective.

Another thing I may tell you if I am being honest is that I am seeing very clearly that hurt begets anger, fear begets hostility and grief begets emotional unrest.  When I remember this, I am filled with compassion for my children (and even myself), but when I forget this, the initial hurts, fears and grief beget anger, hostility and emotional unrest in me, too.  I realize all too often that there are actually 5 wounded children in our house, not just three.  My wounds are not like my children’s wounds for many reasons.  I don’t pretend to compare my life to theirs.  But I am a broken, wounded child, too.  I am looking for someone to take care of me and defend me and take on my burdens because, even though I am a grown-up, I feel very small sometimes.  In these moments, I may call my mom or my sister and lament, or I may communicate through my facial expression to my husband to just hug me and tell me everything will be okay.  Sometimes, although not often enough, I remember that I have a Creator who loves me and cares for me in ways I cannot even understand, and I want my children to feel comforted by that, too.  Because I will let them down.  I already have thousands of times.  And I feel like crap when I do it because these are kids that have already dealt with so much disappointment.  I want to come through for them, but I can’t do it all the time.  I can’t even do it half the time. So life is good, and most days, life is overwhelming.

If I am being really honest, I may also say that, even though I knew my life would look very different after adopting two black girls, I had no idea how different it would be.  My husband put it best when he said that he has lived his whole life trying to blend in, and now he is in a family that will always stand out.  It is a drastically different experience when I take my white adopted son to Target versus taking one of my black daughters.  Sometimes, it feels like curiosity.  Other times, it feels like confusion.  Occasionally, it feels like judgment.  I wish I could say it didn’t bother me.  Often times, it doesn’t.  After all, I don’t hate attention as much as my husband does. 🙂  But sometimes, I am over it.  Sometimes I just want to blend in.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to wear my Adoptive Mother badge all the time.  Sometimes I wish it was more like it was before- a badge I wore when I wanted to, needed to, remembered to…

After adopting our son almost 4 years ago, I knew that adoption would always be woven intricately into our story, and I honored that.  It felt good and right for our family to embrace the adoption narrative.  But this feels different.  I can’t tell my daughters that it is their story to tell like I have told my son for years.  Although it is still their story to tell, the world feels entitled to know it.  They ask questions in front of my children or to my children about their stories.  Personal questions.  Complicated questions.  And they expect answers.  It’s like they are asking me where I got my purse, and if I refuse to provide the information, I am seen as stand-offish or rude.  But it’s not a handbag.  It’s my daughter’s past.  It is pain and hurt that cannot be summed up in a quick response, but somehow, it needs to be.  I don’t know what is worse: grown-ups asking my young black daughters about their white mom or grown-ups asking me in front of them about my young black daughters.   So life is good, and life is uncomfortable.

So there it is.  Life is good.  Life is hard.  Life is overwhelming.  Life is uncomfortable.  And life is very sweet.  On Mother’s Day, a day that is not simple for any my children or for me, we decided to get away.  We took a day trip to the beach, our first one as a family of 5, and we let the beach do what the beach does.  We let it soothe us and embrace us.  We let it heal us and renew us.  As my husband and I stood on the shore and watched our three children play in the waves together, laughing and unencumbered, I felt deeply connected to and grateful for my family and my life.  As a dear friend reminded me recently, a meaningful life is much richer than a happy one.  And the beauty is that when I seek meaning and connection more than ease and comfort, I experience more contentment and peace than I do when happiness is my pursuit.

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So, back to the question at hand.  “How am I adjusting to life as a family of 5?”

Honestly… It gets richer and more meaningful by the day.

 

Fields Party of 5: It’s a girl! (And another girl!)

Party of…

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After months of waiting, we have some HUGE news to share.  Our little party of 3 is becoming a party of 5! (I have so many Matthew Fox jokes to insert here since he is my husband’s man crush, but I will stay on task.) We have been matched with TWO (yes, TWO) precious little girls who we adore.  The details of how and when and why are private for now, but here is what I will say: God’s plans are better than our plans, and we are so grateful to have been chosen to parent these precious souls.

Things are about to get crazy in the Fields house!  Our 7-year-old son will be a big brother times two, and we will move from parents of an only child (a fairly self-sufficient one at that!) to parents of THREE kids of different ages with varying degrees of need and diverse interests and unique personalities.  On top of that, we are transitioning from an adoptive family to a transracial adoptive family.  This is both humbling and overwhelming as we think about navigating this world and raising our children in the cultural context in which we live.  We feel painfully ill-equipped, and we are reaching out, in and around for support, guidance and feedback.  My perspective on adoption has evolved significantly throughout this process, and I hope to share more of that in the coming months.  But one thing that hasn’t changed is my deep gratitude to our family and friends and various communities for embracing our family and loving our children. (Even before meeting them!)

Prior to our own experience with adoption 3 years ago, I must admit, I was pretty naïve about many things.  Our learning curve felt very steep, and many of our closest people learned right along with us.  There are tons of amazing resources available to facilitate deeper understanding about the adoption triad (birth parents-adoptee-adoptive parents), as well as specific areas of adoption, like international adoption, transracial adoption, adoption through the foster care system, single-parent and LGBT adoption, legal issues related to the adoption process, and services available for the various stakeholders involved in adoption.  My hope in the coming year is to devote more space on this blog to facilitate discussions, answer questions and invite other voices to share experiences related to adoption.

Surprisingly, despite a positive shift in perceptions of adoption, the number of adoptions in this country has remained about the same for the last 50 years.  The reasons for this are not simple, and I don’t believe that adoption is something everyone should do, but if adoption is something you are thinking about or want to understand more deeply, I hope this blog can link you to the resources, information and support you will need.  In my experience, the most poignant education I have received about adoption and adoptive parenting has come from the lived experiences of others.  So this is mine. Ours.

The girls (the most common reference in our household for our new family members) are not with us permanently yet, but they are very much in our lives and hearts more and more every day.  In the meantime, my family humbly asks for your prayers and positive thoughts as we transition to becoming a family of 5! It will be a huge change for all involved, but a change that we welcome and anticipate with excitement and hope.  Thank you for your care for my family.  It means the world!

Here we go…