Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Monday, April 09, 2012

On Birth Families

A couple posts ago, someone asked in the comments if anyone follows my blog from the boys' Serbian life?

I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about my feelings about birth families and how our boys came to be in our house. Some if the story will belong to only the boys and their birth families, but some I will share.

First of all, I'd like you to go read this post, written the day I met Axel's birth family. Yes, I have met and remain in contact with Axel's birth family. Axel's birth family has never stopped loving him, and it was because they love him that they chose to allow him to be adopted in the U.S. My heart aches for them every single time he does something new, or has a first-time experience. I try to capture as many of them as I can.

Asher's birth family also loved him very much. They didn't just dump him off at an orphanage and walk away. There is so much more to it than that. If anyone ever thinks the birth family just walked away from a child, even if you were told that by orphanage staff, don't believe everything you hear. And even if a birth mother did walk away, know that her heart aches for the child she lost. Even if she never looked back at her child, her heart still aches.

Asher's birthday is on October 31st, the same day we received the last of his profile information. The same day his birth family was having a huge birthday party for him at the orphanage. They had no idea at that very time, we were on the other side of the world and hit "send" on an email, stating we would like to make him our son. As they sang "Happy Birthday", we were hoping we'd made the right decision. The day after his birthday, his parents were notified a family had come forward for him.

Just a few days later, on November 22nd, I sat around the table with the Ministry and Social Welfare officials and heard the details of Asher's life up to that point. I know for a fact Asher's birth family loved him very much, and having another extended family with Down syndrome they knew exactly what life would be like for Asher if he stayed in Serbia. They sacrificed their hearts so that Asher might have the opportunities kids like Angela and Axel have. It takes an incredible amount of love to make a decision like that.

I was told the birth family had the legal right to observe my visits with Asher. I was a bit nervous about this, only because it makes for an awkward situation, but I would do whatever was needed if that's what God had planned.

In my file of Asher's adoption documents I have the address of his birth family. Just as I've sat on other things a bit longer in terms of Asher's learning since he's been here, so too have I felt the need to just wait and not contact his birth family yet. I know they are still hurting. And when I feel the time is right I will reach out to them.

There are so many parts to their stories I cannot tell, but I do need to say this: Do not judge the birth parents. Do not make up a story in your head, and do not believe anything that wasn't written on a formal document signed by the birth family. I am one of the rare international adoptive parents, having not only contact information but the chance to meet my child's birth family. But I want to be even more rare than that. I want for birth families to be able to keep their kids with Down syndrome at home and know they can raise them successfully to be productive members of society. I want to help eliminate the stigma that comes from having a child "like that", to let them know they did nothing to cause this and are not being punished by God for something they've done. Someday I hope that having a child with Down syndrome in Serbia can be like it is here; an amazing, positive, life-altering experience.



That would be AWESOME !!!

Linnea said...

This is beautiful. I started a post about birthparents the other day. Never finished it or published it yet because I got side tracked. I pray that someday you get your prayer answered and parents get to keep their kids with down syndrome.

Be blessed


Carissa said...

Bravo, my friend! This is so perfectly written! I do not doubt for a second that just as there are millions of "orphans" in this world, there are also millions of mamas with a love so fierce for their child that they make a sacrifice that not many of us can understand.