Sunday, September 17, 2006
Speak now or ........................
No matter what path leads you to decide to adopt, you soon realize that for about the next year you life is mostly about decisions, choices, options,opinions as well as pros and cons and wants and needs. Each of our adoptions were no different. When making our way through our first adoption of our son the biggest, of course was what country,followed by which agency, then gender , age and health. Russia was an easy choice, agency took some shuffling through many choices but in the end it was also a pretty easy decision also. Since we would be first time parents we wanted to experience as much of the early months as we could so we asked for under 12 months. We had no preference of gender so we said either. We were also pretty wide open on health. We decided from the start not to use an International Adoption Physician to evaluate our referral. We were open and felt capable emotionally to parent a child with any number of health issues and thought that by asking for as young as possible that gave us the best possible scenario for early intervention of any problems.We also felt very strongly that this was the most important and forever choice we would make and knew that we needed to accept our son through our own heart and mind and would bring a child into our family based on the whole child and what our gut told us and not anyone else's approval or rating of a child. This was the first controversial decision and opinion we would have, it would later seem. I know that to many, if not most adoptive parents that the assurance of good health of their prospective child is a top priority and our thoughts on that area were in the minority or hard to imagine, but in our hearts it just was not a big issue and we felt most comfortable this way. Our son was 9 months old and pretty malnourished. He has mild PDD and some expressive language delays and we think he is just perfect and feel like the luckiest parents around to be raising him. We wouldn't change a thing about the way we did it.
When we adopted a second time our child request were the exact same other than asking for a girl and for the same orphanage. Once again we were open on health and did not use an IA evaluation. Once again we feel like we snagged the Brass ring with our daughter.
Our thoughts in not getting an evaluation are just one many mindsets in adoption that are the basis for debate in adoption circles. And one , to my surprise, I would later have to defend and explain on adoption chats and message boards
Now with what we felt like was our perfect family of four in place, we pretty thought the days of decision making and adoption choices were behind us.
Au Contraire!!
Enter politically or actually ,adoptively correct language and ideas.
Who Knew?
And some adoptive families get quite overheated and in a form of "WORD" rage over it.
Let's start with the basics.
Your child is adopted, chosen, meant for you, placed, relinquished, abandoned, made a plan for, birth parents rights terminated...
They entered this world via birth parent,birthmother,first mother, other mother,woman who gave birth,tummy mommy,Russian lady......
I am your adoptive Mom, Real mom, forever Mom, and you grew in my heart, mind, wishes, dreams and you were meant for us....
The word adoption itself ,used in reference to anything other than the joining of a child and a family can push some into an apoploptic fit. Causing reams of letter writing, product bans and maybe even a picket line or two. Personally to me adoption means making a commitment to love and care for something. A child, a pet or a cause. Even Adopt a Road cleanups do not bother me in the least and lot more litter strewn places could use a good adoption placement. I can honestly say the only time I got a case of the vapors was when a Middleton Doll Adoption nursery opened at a department store in our area to a big fanfare and front page article in the newspaper. In a advocating fury I pounded out a letter to the editorial section, which was promptly printed about how distasteful I felt it was,yada,yada yada. That spawned more letters to the editor from other adoptive families in equal numbers for and against my opinion. I am honest enough to admit that I have since changed my mind about it. And if my daughter one day wants to venture in and "adopt" her own baby doll from there, we will. It may be under assumed names and in disguise, paying cash and leaving no paper trail but I think it will be a natural opportunity to talk about her adoption.
So be prepared to choose a side of the fence on a subject. Also be prepared to climb over those fences sometimes, even if it is under the cover of darkness.
There is also the arguments for and against telling your child all the nitty gritty details of their adoption story, what age to tell, age appropriate information.
Volumes written on telling or not telling teachers, schools, classmates ,friends, acquaintances,etc. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.
What if I make the wrong decision, use the wrong words or bad timing?
Will this cause irrevocable damage to my child, hurt out relationship, color their place in the world if I choose incorrectly?
Can I go back and fix a snafu, retract my foot out of my mouth,call a mulligan or a redo?
Will I be labeled insensitive, naive, uninformed, ineffective adoption advocate or in denial?
If my opinion differs from yours does it mean I love, care, support or think about my child less than you?
Geez, you maybe asking by now what brought all this reflection or warning of things to come, today.
I will tell you.
This week I volunteered at the book fair at my children's school. Basically classes come in with money from home and purchase books and what nots and you help them decide on what they can afford and help them purchase it. I, of course, chose a day that both my children's classes would be attending. My daughter proudly marched in with her kindergarten class and when she saw me ,skipped on over. As I was helping her decide between My Little Pony and Barbie's 12 Dancing Princess, a classmate asked her if I was her Mommy. My daughter, matter of factly said "Yes, Can't you see how much we look alike?" to which the little girl agreed.
I was happy with her answer.
But this is where I thought about where some other adoptive Moms differ from me.There are some who will quickly correct anyone who points out how much their child resembles them whether the one making the observation knows they are adopted or not. They feel it is their duty or adoptive requirement to point out that they could not possible look alike or act alike or BE ALIKE because they are not biologically related.This tends to embarrass both the complimentor and the child, I would think. That in just saying Thank You and agreeing, that they are in some way denying the adoption or receiving kudos that they have not earned.
Or more distasteful to me ,are the ones who heap praise and glory knee deep upon their adopted child about their attractiveness or other shining qualities to anyone that will listen or profusely agree to a compliment because they assume since they had nothing genetically to do with it , they are as free to point these things out as anyone else.
I just say Thank you.
Thank You covers a multitude of other possible replies.
Just say Thank You.
Everyone is happy with a Thank You.
I think we all at one time evolved from the same gene pool. Whether you believe it was Adam and Eve or a couple of cave people.
So when you say my children and I have the same big blue eyes, same blond hair and we look so much alike. I will agree.
When you note that my daughter gets her interests, verbal skills and socially outgoing personality from me, I will also agree.
When you point out that my son looks just like his Dad did as a child, has his same laid back personality and athletic ability, I will once again agree.
Because we all favor ,does it make the fact that we are an adoptive family easier? Yes
Even though my two know they were adopted ,do they find some comfort in our similarities?Yes Were these things we thought about when choosing Russia and making decisions we are happy we made? Yes!
I now know that all those decisions we made , both big and small, were not over and done with one we brought our children home. We may on occasion have the need to explain or uphold them from time to time.
I also know that adoption itself lends itself to many other choices and decisions.
Battles to choose and things to let slide.
Mountains to build from mole hills and bumps to simply step over or around with nary a glance.
But which ever team you decide to play for, remember that first and foremost we are all in the same league.
The Adoptive Family League.
Let's be each other's cheerleaders and agree to disagree sometimes.
That most adoptive subjects are in the gray area, rarely black and white and as many right and different answers as there are children.
Sometimes its us against the world and sometimes we just think its that way.
And most of the time its OK not to have an opinion about something and its even OK to have the same thoughts and opinions as every bio parent around you.
So when I quietly help my child with the Family Tree Assignment or Genetic Trait Poster or when I agree that we have the exact same shade of blue eyes or I agree with her that an angel sent her from heaven to us or that yes, they did grow in my Heart instead of my tummy, remember this.
I am not denying their past.
I am not forgetting they were adopted.
I am not pretending I gave birth to them.
I am not avoiding rocking the boat.
I am not just choosing the easy way.
I am just a Mother loving her children and doing what I think is best.
Just like every other Mom.
Sometimes making mistakes, sometimes changing my mind, sometimes making it up as I go along.
Sometimes just going along with the status quo and other times being the squeaky wheel.
So far it seems to be working.
So far.


Blogger Ani said...

I've been following your posts for a while - and this particular entry touched my heart and mind very much. We adopted our son when he was 5 wks old, and now, 12 months later, when I can't remember when he was not part of our family! - people always point out how much he looks like his dad and me. And, uncannily, he truly does. For a while, I felt uncomfortable with these comments - should I tell them he was not our biological child?, but, like you, i soon realized that THANK YOU and a smile was the appropriate response to a well-meaning stranger in the middle of the supermarket. This is not an attempt to forget or deny how our family was formed, and I will openly discuss our adoption story with anyone who asks. But, there's a time for anything. Thanks for voicing my thoughts - truly appreciated.

Blogger MMrussianadoption said...

I like the new digs! Did Lauren do it up for you?

Blogger Lauren&Marco said...

I love your posts, and I must say they are more enjoyable to read on your cheery blog! Thanks for the emails, it was nice chatting with you, as always a few great laughs!

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