There are often cringeworthy moments that happen as a potential foster-adoptive parent. Many of these can be the benignly awkward things that are said, while others can bear a bit more weight to them to the point of feeling either cutting or at least insensitively abrasive. Sure, such comments are made in a well-intentioned manner, but this typically never really softens the content of what is said. We offer up a reply with a pained smile before changing the subject and moving on.
Specifically, the comments I have in mind here refer to others’ stated hopes that my wife and I will still maybe “one day” have a child of our own “naturally”—our own biological kin. These remarks have come in increasing frequency after my wife had her third procedure to remove endometrial tissue from her body (she was diagnosed with severe endometriosis six years ago). Yes, we saw one of the world’s leading experts in surgically removing endometriosis (but remember: there is no cure and it comes back), and of course, we would love to be “biologically pregnant” with child. If such a miracle were to happen, we would welcome it.
However, what these remarks fail to understand—and this is why they can often hurt—is that for us, our potential child that we hope to be matched with through our foster-adoption agency is just as real, if not more real to us than a child received through natural biological conception. That is, my wife and I have now been in the foster-adoption process for over a year and a half, investing our mental, emotional, and spiritual energy as well as countless hours in trainings, support groups, reading foster/adoption parenting literature, not to mention the invasive (but necessary) interview process conducted by our social worker—all in the expectant hope for that child whom we have not yet met to be placed with us. I do not think it is exaggerating too much to say that this is our “pregnancy”. We are pregnant with hopes to adopt a child, to receive the gift of a child through the foster-adoption process.
It should go without saying that this analogy is imperfect, be cause we aren’t “really” pregnant. Well, that’s what analogies are for, right? If there weren’t obvious differences, we wouldn’t be calling them analogies.
We live in hopes that we might be the guardians for a time (“parents”) of a child that will be, after all the legal stuff is said and done, a child that we will choose to love. This will be he story that we tell the child—or something like it because we’re constantly reminded that every circumstance for every child is different. We will have to acknowledge to the child that, at some point, this child’s biological (“bio”) parents were unable to care for them, and that now we have chosen them, that we had been waiting for them, waiting to meet them for years, waiting that one day a child like them who needed a family would be a part of our own.
Biology is a reality, unavoidable. But relationships are also a reality—perhaps even a ‘higher’ reality since what would cells, tissues, and organisms be if they weren’t internally and externally related to other physical, chemical, and biological realities? And there are mutually-enriching relationships and there are also broken relationships. Some of these broken relationships leave children harmed, stranded, or both. We are unable to conceive naturally, to be bio parents of our own, a mystery that we may never understand.
As hopeful foster-adoptive parents who acknowledge that the most primary relationship is the one we have with the Holy Trinity, for us we believe that a part of our particular journey of this relationship is a call to be adoptive parents. While we wait for our final approval to start the matching process, we live in pregnant hope.