Monday, June 25, 2012

Telling the Adoption Story

By now most people understand that keeping the adoption a secret from the adoptive child/person is a bad idea. It is better that the child understands that he or she is adopted as soon as possible. This means that as adoptive parents, we are responsible for telling our son his adoption story. Parents have a variety of ways of doing this. Some have the fortunate situation in which they have back-and-forth contact with the birth parents. Some actually make an adoption book like a baby book or make the adoption forms and other information part of the baby book. There is even a trend of making a storybook specifically about the child's adoption that as they get older can be added to even by them.
John and I have taken the approach in which we talk about it naturally and just make it part of our regular lives and routines. For instance, I keep a picture of CJ and his birth mom on my phone. When we are looking through the pictures as CJ likes to do, we always stop on that one and talk about her and how he is the baby in the picture. It is one of his favorite pictures. And now that he is really talking he will say he is adopted. Actually I am trying to get him to say, I'm adopted, and I'm proud. It's a work in progress.
Months ago, I made the suggestion that we take the kids camping. John ran with it, so this weekend we ended up camping with a group of friends and their kids. It was a ton of fun. You haven't lived until you have watched three toddlers puddle jump until they are covered in mud from top to toe. 
John was very specific about where he wanted us to camp. He wanted to go back to Delaware because he wanted to take CJ back to the hospital where he was born. It was the last thing we did as we were heading home. On the way we talked about everything we did two and a half years ago. Those are the outlets where we shopped, that's the restaurant we ate at, the laundromat John did clothes at until we realized the hotel had machines on every floor, the Wal-Mart John ran to about fifty times. We told Leila how she was there but inside Mommy. And then we turned down a side street and drove past the hospital. John pointed the building out to CJ and told him that was where you were born. How when we walked into her room his birth mom told him, "Look, it's your parents!" and handed him to me.
CJ smiled and points and said, "I born!" He watched the building the whole time we drove around it (We didn't get out. Not that keen on taking my kids into a hospital if we don't need to.). He seemed actually excited. I don't know if he was picking up on the mood we were trying to set, or if he really got what we were saying, but it was a great idea to go. I am so glad John thought of it. It is so important to us to help CJ become comfortable with his adoption. We want it to be a positive thing in his life. And I am always amazed at how much he seems to understand when we talk about it. He wants to know. It is instinctive to know about our families and our origins, especially for adopted people. It was amazing to meet such a milestone for CJ this weekend. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Wonder

Coltrane is an affectionate kid. He is always ready with a hug and a slobber, er, kiss. More though, he needs affection given to him. CJ will always sleep better if he is being cuddled. He falls asleep more quickly in someone's arms. If he wants to watch a movie, it is not a time for me to get things done while he is occupied. It is lap time, so he can bury his head if he gets a little scared or point out his favorite parts.
Leila is not quite like this. She is a quick love. A little kiss here, a touchdown in the lap there. There is more independence in her. It lies in her fearlessness. She fears nothing, including being alone.
Now, I know this is mostly due to their natures. It is who they are. Some times though, I do wonder, if some of the difference lies in adoption.
Often adopted kids, no matter how much they are loved and love their families, have to go through a process of acceptance. Again it doesn't matter if their birth parents absolutely made the right decision not to parent. It doesn't matter if it was the hardest thing CJ's birth mom ever did to place him in my arms and our care. She still did it. He may have to spend time accepting that she chose not to parent. It was a choice. It was the right choice, but none the less, there can be pain in that.
And I do wonder at what age a child can be aware of that. Could it really be the moment when the only other person he has known, handed him to someone else? Could there be an instinctive remembrance of different? Does the journey toward acceptance start at the moment his mother made that choice? Could there be something in his brain that makes him more affectionate as a way to start on that path even before he understands why?
I know that he knows he is loved. There is no question that he loves us. But perhaps he doesn't take it for granted like his sister does. Perhaps, the showing and the being shown extra love is part of his adoption story.
Probably not. It's probably just his nature, but that doesn't stop me from wondering.