Sunday, September 10, 2006
To Be or Not to Be

Today, I took my daughter to her first kindergarten classmate birthday party. Now I know that to most people it seems as if every other weekend there is a party to attend, but we actually haven’t made it a habit to accept all the invitations we have received in the past. With 12 first cousins within a 10 mile radius, most under the age of 10, attending the mandatory family parties keeps us pretty busy. Likewise, when we hold a party of our own, just family can number in the 30’s we don’t usually add friends and acquaintances to the list and everyone seems pretty happy with this tradition. Our children have never even considered that birthday’s should be celebrated in any other fashion. Also Riley just isn’t the party kid of guy. Usually if the party’s inside, he will be outside or vice versa.
All that is thrown to the wind with my social butterfly of a daughter.
So today we went to Skate Station. Her first time ever to roller skate or be at a skating rink. My first time to attend a party where I would not know anyone else who was there, A few things have changed since my last roll around the rink, but most things haven’t. What’s new is inline skates and trainer skates. Lucky for her and various body parts these were available. They now have a Laser Tag arena and party rooms. What had not changed. The Disco lights and the Disco music. I swear it was the same soundtrack circa 1973.Surprisingly, most were still wearing the original 4 wheels skates of my youth. They still played Wipe Out and All Girl or All Boy skate, had races and reverse skate.
Unbeknownst to me ,the grandparents of her classmate were former coworkers of mine at the hospital. As we sat catching up, with other Moms, she asked me did Macy come from Russia too , like Riley? Yes ,I replied somewhat surprised by her question, then remembering that we worked together while we were in the process of our first adoption. So much for letting my daughter decide if and when she wanted to share her unique history with her peers .None of the other Mom’s seemed to acknowledge our exchange, but who knows. This got me thinking about all of the lengthy and sometimes heated discussions on the adoption board I frequent , about the adoptive history of our children and the way our families were built and that information being open for public consumption. Will those that know tell and who will they tell and in what light do they offer up these tidbits of your life? Will it positively or negatively affect our children, does it color peers, parents and teacher’s perceptions of our children, should you guard it with a nuclear defense or be matter of fact about it? Unless, after your adoptions you move to a new town or state with total anonymity, it is inevitable that sooner or later everyone just knows. May take 6 months or 6 years. I have never been one to avoid talking about our adoptions or our experiences and I am quite willing to discuss it with anyone interested in adopting or just honestly and sincerely interested in our story. I am lucky that I have never encountered any negative comments or questions or insensitive observations about it, so maybe I am naïve in what I may be setting myself up for one day. This leads me to wonder out loud here on this blog (please offer me your thoughts and comments on this) if the path to adoption is reflected someway in the attitude about others being privy to their journey to their children. Since we did not try for biological children, did not suffer the anguish and heartbreak of unsuccessful infertility treatments, IVF, miscarriages and all the money ,time and emotion spent on that treadmill first, does it somehow make talking about it easier? Was making the decision to adopt less intense for us or does the fact that we never had the dream of a bio child just the desire to parent make us less self conscious about sharing our decision with others? I don’t know the answers to this since I only have our own journey to relate to. I know some adoptive Moms who would have had a meltdown if they had been in my shoes today and someone nonchalantly offered up such personal info about their daughter in a group of other parents. It really didn’t faze me at all, and that is what got me to thinking. My daughter will quickly tell anyone that asked her that she was born in Russia. It is just a fact of her life. The thought has never crossed her mind that anyone should not know. Is her attitude a product of ours or am I taking my lead from her? Should I follow it or will she one day wish that I had been more protective of our roots as a family. Would my trying to keep it on a need to know basis cause her to be self conscious about her adoption or foster an attitude that there is a reason to keep it a secret. Now, I am not talking about personal birthmother history ,but just the general fact that she was adopted from Russia as an infant as was her brother. Not more personal and private details. What would be harder, her peers always knowing she was adopted and it becoming old news or one day at age 10 or 13 or 16 these same friends finding out. Will they want to know why it was secreted away and would that be more suspect and harder on her than if they had always known? Some parents seem to want to just forget the whole adoption road and hope that no one is ever the wiser, believing that this is the best and easiest route. I am not so sure I buy into that. Some are really distraught if they learn that someone that they did not personally elevate to status worthy of the story, knows. Am I too nonchalant about it or is it healthy that I have an “it is what it is” outlook on our family? Is it because our decision to adopt from Russia was our first choice and a not a second or third, makes it easier for us in some way or be more open about it somehow? Maybe that is why I cannot really relate to those who are advocates who tout keeping it close to the cuff that surrounds some adoptions. I feel that no matter what led you to adoption, praise the Lord that you were. No one can change the past, it is what you do with the present and the future that counts the most. I strongly believe that through adoption you become a parent in a way that other parents just cannot understand. That it is a blessing and that you are lucky beyond measure. The faith ,love, hope and courage it takes to become an adoptive parent is returned to you in unfathomable dimensions. But the bottom line is this.
We are just a family.
No more.
No less.
A normal, average, regular, good and bad days family.
A forever and always, through thick and thin family.
A real Mom, real Dad , real Kids.
Different yet so vastly the same as every other family.
I will even venture out and say more normal than many pure biological ones that I know.
In fact, despite my rambling today about our adoptive roots, I have gone weeks and months without having a single adoptive thought.
So maybe time is the answer. The farther away in time we get from our adoptions and the older my children become, the less of a focus it is.
The busier we are in the present ,the less time we have to contemplate the past.
The more adopted is what my children were and less of what they are.
I know that we will have many adoptive bridges in the future to cross and I am prepared for those.
Today the road is smooth and cruise control seems to be engaged.
No adoption bumps or detours in sight.
I’m gonna try and not let another driver run me off the road or cause me to lose my direction.
That is until my son or daughter decides on another destination.
Too bad parenting doesn’t have a MapQuest.


Anonymous debness said...

your words are priceless!

Anonymous Cate said...

I have often wondered this same question, although in our case we had bio children and then adopted. We do not share our adopted children's story with strangers but also do not go out of our way to disguise how they became part of our family. I think you have hit the nail on the head: your first choice was to build your family through adoption, not a decision made after infertility issues. You did not have to grieve the loss of one dream to embrace another. We made a similar choice to adopt after having bio children; it was a conscious decision and one that had the support of our family and friends. We could not "hide" their beginnings even if we wanted to (and we don't). We want them to be proud of their birth heritage as well as our family heritage. As our children get older, they will be able to guide us as to how they want their story acknowledged. Until then, we do what we think is best and hope that is enough. God bless........

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