The gray clouds of uncertainty are omnipresent in adoption. I have come to accept this as fact.
All parents experience unpredictability, but adoption amplifies it. The exaggerated uncertainty for me is a result of self-doubt and the constant fear of the unknown.
Adoption’s uncertainty will test any family’s mettle. These dense, gray clouds continue to test mine.
I was indoctrinated into the gray early on in our process. When we started to explore adoption as an option, I was continually frustrated by the wishy-washy answers I received to, what I thought were, simple questions.
How long will the process take?
How much will I know about my child’s history, family or care?
How young of a baby could we adopt?
How much does it cost? When do we pay?
There are no easy, definitive answers. As I muddled through each confusing step, the clouds would retreat but never go away.
The clouds of uncertainty continued to hang overhead after we brought home our bouncy, beautiful baby boy. Different questions now tormented me.
Will my child and I form an attachment naturally?
Will people around me be supportive?
How will I be able to tell if my child is struggling with the adjustment to us?
No one answered and the clouds, again, never left. Watching my son pass through each little kid milestone made the gray easy to ignore.
As my son has grown into a still beautiful 10 year old, I continue to reside uncomfortably in the gray.
The questions in my head seem bigger, more difficult to work through and not solved by simply “doing the best we can.” The current clouds of my uncertainty feel more foreboding, the questions have more depth.
Is this normal behavior or a product of being adopted?
I often find myself wondering if issues I face with my son are amplified because of the fact that he is adopted.
Yosef is our oldest, the first to go through many of the trials we are experiencing now – repeated deception, lack of empathy at times and periods of preferring to be alone instead of with the family.
I’m quick to dismiss the issues as normal kid power-plays. I secretly wonder if I’m missing a signal for help.
How do I help Yosef understand his racial identity?
Raising a black child as a white man is bigger than learning about adequate skin and hair care.
As Yosef has gotten older, I can see that he is much more race-aware. Recently, he asked me, “Dad, is it okay that I feel more comfortable playing with other black kids?”
The fact that he asked, tells me he’s conflicted.
There are times when I detect that he’d rather not have to address his white dad in a primarily black environment.
When I take him to the barber shop, I sense that he has a bit of embarrassment about the fact that I look different from the other patrons.
I try not to take these times personally, but the fact that he feels uncomfortable around me in some places does hurt a bit.
His personal racial identity will continue to evolve. That is as normal and wonderful as intimidating and humbling.
Just like the questions that swirl in my head as my son continues to grow, the gray clouds of adoption uncertainty will persist.
There is no sense in fighting against the gray. In fact, I’ve become more accepting of the obscurity—an adoptive family has to be as the clouds roll in.
After all, I’ll hold the umbrella when the uncertain, gray clouds pour rain.
I’ll find shade when the gray clouds break and the afternoon sun is scorching.
The only certainty in adoption is that our families will face the uncertainty head-on.
We’ll emerge better for having been brave enough to weather any storm—together.
About the Author: Tobin Walsh is an adoptive father who sincerely and humorously blogs about parenting and adoption. You can read this original post on his blog, The Good-Bad Dad.