I was researching online in this Easter season – looking for some new traditions and tips in celebrating the holiday through the lens of adoption. I read an article that spoke passionately about the adoption process in matching families and the often-missed sensitivity that can exist. The subtleties of the temperament that can be overwhelmed by the activity of the Easter holiday and the misconceptions that are overlooked about responses to stimuli. The article continued, as most adoption articles do, to give caution to the possibility of abandonment issues and past neglect. There was a poem written from the perspective of the newly adopted little one about true feelings concerning the holiday and even an education campaign and various ways to get involved as an advocate.
And I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I may have done both.
Because this article was about a bunny.
A little rabbit adopted on Easter. There was a sweet picture of a girl in her Sunday best holding this sweet little bunny and a stark red x through her torso depicting the horror of bunny adoption.
After the laughing and crying (because sweet mercy, I am at once convicted and oh, the irony of it all), two thoughts crossed my mind.
First, I am a double epic failure of a mother. In child adoption and bunnies. There is evidence.
Second, I read that article and immediately concluded that I could not adopt a bunny. We are not fit to adopt a bunny. We would do more harm than good to a bunny. I don’t understand bunnies. What was I even thinking? The bunnies would be better off without us.
Then I wondered if my friends who haven’t adopted, or those strangers reading who are just maybe considering adoption, ever feel this way when they read about all of the misconceptions, issues, hardships and rules in adoption. The lists of what to do and not do and if it takes the joy right out of them and they turn away from something that could be really great.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not comparing adopting children to adopting bunnies. Please don’t send me hate mail – I’m really not. I have adopted a child and did so pretty confidently. You can be darn sure though I won’t be adopting any bunnies in the near future. I knew the language in that bunny article because it often reflects the language in my adoption circles. It put fear in my bones. It was correct information and wise counsel for anyone considering bringing a rabbit into their family but you could have removed the word bunny and replaced it with child and it would have read like much of the literature and opinions I studied before we brought home our daughter. And I began to wonder if the reaction I had to it, is the same reaction that many people have when they begin to read and investigate the possibility of adopting a child into a forever family? Or on a smaller scale, befriend an adoptive family.
This past week a dear friend of mine was sorting through old pictures and she came across a photo of her husband picking up and hugging our newly adopted daughter three years ago, who had been home only a matter of days. She calls it “my husband breaking the adoption rules and hugging Grace even though I told him not to” picture. He was so taken by our daughter and all the cuteness that the rules went out the window. He was reminded of them, I assure you, when they got in the car to go home. My friend was mortified. It made me want to laugh. And cry. Those rules were important to follow – our daughter needed to know how to attach to her mom and dad. Without question. But, that one hug didn’t wreck anything. That hug was just fine.
There is a lot of noise out there in blogs and social media, the news and well, the world. Lots and lots of noise. Just when I think I’m getting it right as a parent, the very opposite of what I just did is mommy blogged as the “correct way.” The “holy” way. The “only” way. Just when I think I might want to get a bunny for our family – sweet Peter Cottontail no – it will never happen because according to that article, it will be without question, traumatized for life and quite possibly squashed. All of that noise has created so many rules I simply can’t keep up. And, I wonder if it is easier to just. not. try. (Cue ridiculously cute girl with bunny photo)
There is a marvelous child in that picture who, despite hugs from non-family members before attachment was complete, despite a tough beginning, and despite a slew of surgeries in her young life – is happy and thriving. There is a bunny in that picture who, despite being held by a million kids at an Easter gathering and who was probably in a self-induced coma by the time Grace held him – that bunny looks alright too. That bunny looks downright cute. There were lots of mistakes with both – but both are thriving (I actually don’t know if the bunny is alive and thriving because it didn’t belong to us but the scary bunny article I read said their life spans are short but we are pretending it’s still alive and well for the sake of the point of this blog post. I wouldn’t know because I am never adopting a bunny. There are activist groups that will literally come after me and lock me up).
With all of the noise, and rules, and opinions and education campaigns and labels – all very true and needed – I wonder if we are scared of messing it up? Or if we are currently in it, scared that we are constantly messing it up. Or if we want to be in it – scared that it’s just too scary.
What do we miss when we choose not to try?
The article I read stated, “rabbits and small children are not a good match.” I beg to differ – I have evidence. Pretty stinkin’ cute evidence to the contrary. I get it though – rabbits and small children without boundaries are not a good match. It could have just as easily said “rabbits and adults without emotional stability are not a good match.” Or “adults without emotional stability and small children are not a good match.” Or “adopted rabbits and friends of small children are not a good match.” We are flawed people.
Yet, have you ever held a small furry bunny around Easter time? Or watched a little precious daughter hold a bunny for the first time ever, surrounded by loving watchful friends and family who understand the miracle of it all? All dressed up in her Sunday best marveling at what’s in her hands. Squashing it was not even on her radar.
The beauty of Easter is that people of the cross, or even better, people of the empty tomb, get to be family in the Kingdom of God. And we are to go hopping in like little children. Little children know the preciousness of the situation, but they don’t calculate the risk as weighing more than the sheer joy in connection. They just love.
We are all better when we are together and when we go like children…
And hold bunnies.