It’s been told to us so many times:  “adoption begins with loss”. I don’t think I really started to grasp this gut-wrenching truth until we started to get closer and closer to meeting our child.

Hard truths: There’s no cabbage patch. Storks don’t bring babies.

The fact is it’s more than likely our child is not in a very good situation right now. They might be living in a dangerous environment. There might be alcohol abuse or unsanitary conditions. The parents may be so destitute that proper nutrition and basic care items like nappies and a soother are unobtainable. But no, this child will not be plucked gingerly away to be placed into our open and waiting arms.

Hard truths: No mother wants to lose her child. No child wants to lose their mother.

If we are “lucky” (and it pains me to say it that way) our child’s birth mother has made an adoption plan. This has certainly not been done with altruism. Making the decision to place one’s child for adoption is so selfless, unimaginable, that I find it impossible to have anything but profound respect.

Knowing there is a woman, right now, contemplating the fate of her baby, to possibly become our child, breaks my heart. The very thing we are wishing and hoping for will ultimately be life-altering and devastating to someone we may never even have a chance to meet, let alone thank.

It’s easy to say the child will have a better life here in Canada. Of course, we plan to do our absolutely best raising our child. But in those private moments between birth mother and child, I’m certain practicalities like a stable home environment, better education and opportunities, seem a galaxy away when love is involved.

It is more likely that our child has come to the orphanage because they have had to be removed from their home. These situations are complicated and painful. In many cases, the birth mother is unable to parent because they themselves were not parented adequately. Or she may not be able to afford another child to raise. And there are probably a multitude of other scenarios that I try not to stay awake thinking about (but often do). In these cases, a social worker and the government, acting in the best interests of the child, brings the child to the orphanage, ultimately to be adopted, by people like us.

(There are a number of other phases before a child is eligible for international adoption, but that’s for a different post).

We won’t be sharing the details of our child’s birth story. It isn’t ours to tell. He or she should be able to decide how they wish to tell it, and to whom.  But most likely, it will involve trauma – even being transported across the globe to a whole new life and without anything familiar is scary enough. It’s going to be hard. A lot of healing will be required.

Hard truth: Adoption does begin with loss.

*This post is based on the adoption situation in Lithuania and does not reflect domestic adoptions in Canada, which are entirely different.