“Are you adopted like I am?” the five-year-old son of our friend ‘S.’ asked another little girl while vacationing in Hawaii. Their poolside conversation along with a picture was posted on Facebook, and soon a bunch of us where chiming in on how sweet we thought the whole exchange was.
A friend of S. mentioned that she too is adopted. S. replied that she would tell both her [adopted] children about this, as a reminder that their family knows lots of people who are adopted. Even though adoption is so much more common and accepted than when we were kids, S. commented that her kids still say they feel “different” from many of their friends.
Then S.’s friend offered to sit down and talk with her kids about her own experience of being an adoptee. In my opinion, that was pretty darn cool.
As a prospective adoptive mom, I’ve thought a great deal about the “adoption triad”: birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptee. Big Papa and I were required to take many hours of classroom and online training which included a wealth of information on the “losses” each member of the triad feels. But knowing about something from books is not like knowing about it first-hand.
It is my wish that our kid will find other adoptees, like S’s friend, to talk with. In fact, I plan to help our kiddo seek out adoptee “mentors” because I think talking with one’s peers is a healthy avenue for adopted kids to figure out who they really are.
Most kids (and adults) who are adopted have questions, many of which cannot be answered. Why couldn’t my birth mom raise me? What would my life have been like if I grew up there instead of here? My birth mom is Armenian but the family I grew up in is not, so what does that make me?
My wisdom falls solidly on one corner of the triad. I know mountains of paperwork. I know months of waiting. I know the yearning to be a mom. What I don’t know is the feeling of being adopted. I can only imagine what might go through my child’s head over the course of a lifetime as he explores where he “fits.”
When the day finally comes and we’re adoptive parents, we will be eternally grateful to another woman, who made a difficult decision to find a home for the child she birthed. At least three lives were forever changed by her choice.
I know we’ll do our very best to help our child wrestle with the questions. And when the answers are out of reach or understanding slips through his grasp we’ll steady him on the path to find answers that lie within.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.