When You Check The Box

Even though I’m hearing impaired
I am a healthy adult.
Even though this wasn’t learned until my late childhood
I was a healthy child.
She didn’t always eat healthy while I grew in her belly
There were no prenatal visits or vitamins
Still I am fine and I’m healthy.
You should know that still I have worth.

I know you checked the box
on that homestudy preferences list
that you were not open to prenatal drug use,
a family history of depression or bipolar
you checked the box that you would not adopt a child
whose birthparent’s wanted to choose their name.
Does this have anything to do with the needs of the child?
Or is this just you playing a matchmaking game?

Does my health depend upon your understanding of medicine?
Is healthiness a societally constructed concept?
Is an autistic child unhealthy? Down syndrome? High IQ?
Does a lack of birthparent history dictate the child’s future health?
Are you seeking perfection in a child; A valedictorian graduating magna cum laude?
Is a “special needs” adoptee incapable of success? PTSD? Anxiety?

Not knowing family medical history can feel scary
and in utero drug exposure may concern you
But know that adoptees will seek righteousness with Malala.
We Will Rise with Maya Angelou
We strive for peace like Benazir Bhutto
and have hoop dreams like Sheryl Swoopes
although I may strain to hear you at times,
or I may lose my balance,
I may need a sick day or two to recoup
Still I am healthy and I am strong.

Dyslexia doesn’t define a soul
anymore than a perfectionistic mother in defeat.
ADHD shouldn’t equate to “I can’t parent this”
just as “normal” is not synonymous with healthy.

Prenatal alcohol exposure doesn’t make my brother less human
Prenatal drug use doesn’t make my sister’s body wrong
I am healthy. We are healthy.
We aren’t a series of labels, or orphaned bodies to experiment on.

We were healthy children that have grown to be healthy adults.
We were adopted as we were, and have grown in to who we are.
We have struggles, and faults, we succeed, we laugh
at times we gain ground, and at times we fight bad thoughts.

When you go to check the boxes
Please don’t predetermine what healthy might mean for me.
Please examine your own beliefs first.
I wonder, what does “healthy” mean to you?

20 thoughts on “When You Check The Box

  1. I hated that part of the adoption process, it was like they thought we were shopping for a car.

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  2. Hi Angela, we saw your film at PACT camp and recently bought it from Amazon Prime. You are an incredible, inspiring human being. Thank you. My husband and I have always felt conflicted and uneasy about having to check those damn boxes. We recently had to do this again as we updated our homestudy to begin the process again. Thank you for writing this. It gives me so much to think about .

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  3. Thank you so much for bringing words to this. We adopted a “waiting” child and it bothers me so much that many would take a reductive view of who this child is and will become.

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  4. I think your break of the relationship our society has made between “health” and “worth” is so well displayed in this post! I absolutely love it. Being a mom has taught me many lessons but one that has been the most important for me is the lesson of love. When I love my little gal, I also love humanity because this is where she comes from. So with this in my heart I am completely open to adoption because we all come from the same place, we are all human.

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  5. Angela…Thanks for saying this! I am moved to tears because I am so thankful to be redeemed, rescued and eternally made new, although adopted from a dear woman who didn’t know how to take care of herself or me! All these labels and yet Jesus Christ died so that all these labels could be removed from you, me and many others! I am thankful for your giftedness and how thankful towards God it causes me to be. 🙂

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  6. You have a way of sharing your voice, of presenting profound truths with such grace. Thank you for writing this! I wish so many more adoptive parents could read this and let it sink in….honestly, including myself a few years ago. Thank you!

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  7. We are adopting a child with needs that we had originally said no to in our first round of “the list” (and something that many others would consider a major SN). But we ended up looking at the waiting child list and knowing as soon as we saw him that this little (or actually kind of big) guy was the one. But now it seems like such a small deal I hardly ever think about it. Sometimes when people ask me “what’s his special need?” all I can think of is that his only real challenge – or at least the one that will impact him the most – will be having us as parents!

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  8. Deeply touching, inspiring, and so well-said. Thank you, Angela, for your words, for sharing your heart, and for your presence in the world. We all need to hear what you have to say, whether of not adoption is part of our lives. You are sharing so many universal truths in all you do.

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  9. I stumbled across this, recognized the name, & gave it a read. Very well thought out & beautifully written. Definitely made me sit & consider the points raised after reading them.

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  10. Thank you for putting this so eloquently. When my husband and I filled it out, we said we wouldn’t be able to adopt a baby born extremely premature because we didn’t think we could afford the medical costs of the NICU. About a month after being chosen by an expectant mother, she went into premature labor 11 weeks early. It was sobering to later realize that if we hadn’t already been matched with our son’s birth mom when this happened, the agency wouldn’t have even given her the option to choose us because of the preferences we had listed, and we wouldn’t have our beautiful son. I can definitely say that something that seems overwhelming spelled out in black and white on paper is completely different when you experience it first hand caring for a child. Of course no parent wants to watch their child suffer. But it’s not about me, it’s about my son. I could have walked away and let someone else adopt him because I thought it was too hard, but he would have still been there fighting that battle and needing someone to care for him. And now, over two years later, he would still be the strong beautiful little boy he has become, but I wouldn’t get the privilege of being the one there to watch him grow, on the good days and the bad.

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