Thursday, October 23, 2014

Not My Story to Tell

I have a beautiful piece of artwork hanging in my office that says “your story matters.” I love hearing  people’s life stories because they contain so much power. It’s our individual successes, challenges, fears and raw honesty that allows us to truly connect with each other.

I’m always amazed at the people I meet in various settings that have adoption stories to tell. And yes, I’m a little biased, but adoption stories are hands down the best. Each are like snowflakes, all a little different, and yet, together they create a beautiful image.  I love sharing the story of how we came to be Emily’s parents and the journey that brought us together as a family. 

Yet, I always feel conflicted when I hear adoption stories that include information about a birth mom or birth family. I know often times these women and families faced unthinkable tragedy and difficult life circumstances that brought them to the decision that adoption was the best and only option for their child. My heart breaks a little every single time when I hear stories of birth mothers that abused drugs and alcohol, were victims of rape or domestic violence or struggled with mental illness.  And I feel incredibly protective of these individuals. Because I don’t think their story is our story to tell. 

Children don’t deserve to be labeled “fetal alcohol babies” or “drug babies.”  Those may be the challenges they were born into or born with but their worth is so much more.  I never want any child, including Emily, to be viewed as less than because of a label we place on them early in life. From the beginning we’ve started them off at a disadvantage because of something they had no control over. Labels diminish a child's potential. All children should know in the deepest part of their hearts that they matter, they belong and they are capable. And it’s our jobs as parents to show them and reinforce that message every single day.   

What happened prior Emily entering our life, isn’t my story to tell. Maybe it’s a story she will want to tell one day. That’s her decision to make. But my story, our story, will be what happened in the moments, days and years after that life changing phone call on a warm day in July. That story will start with what it truly was...happiness, excitement, and endless possibilities of a new chapter in life.