It is late morning. Ammu and Pattu are out the door, on their way to the bus-stop. Saathi is getting ready for work. The first level of our home is quiet. Laddu and I are ambling along, bending down to pick up stray pieces from the floor. We stop at the patio screen looking up to see a huge insect silhouetted against it. Laddu turns to look at me and smile. Her cheeks are shiny, soft and full. Her lower lips are plump. For a moment, I see a version of my brother at that age look back at me. I stop in awe, trying to imprint that memory. It happens again as she sits on the steps, patting the carpet beside her, indicating for me to sit. I tease her and sit above instead. She looks at me, her nose all scrunched up, eyes slivers of black and a ghost of my dad takes shape. Right after her shower, a linen towel wrapped around her, her face all dewy and moist, her hair slicked to the side, my Amma looks at me. Lying on her back, deep in sleep, jowls relaxed, her lower lip pushed out, I see Saathi lying there. I wonder if they are a relic from his mom. Every so often, I see glimpses of Saathi’s father, his brother and wisps of ancestors past peek at me.

At dinner last night, I stand pouring batter on the griddle, serving up hot savory pancakes, all three of my children gathered at the table. Yogurt and sugar asks Pattu. Molaga-podi and oil demands Ammu. I carefully tear the last pancake into pieces, steam escaping from its center and place them on a brightly colored plate. I set it before Laddu and look at her. She punches the center with her chubby index finger indicating she needs something to dip it in. I parade a variety of options and she shakes her head vehemently as she pushes each away. “Chatna” she repeats. I am not sure I understand her. I wait and she patiently repeats for me. “Chatna”

I shake my head and offer molaga-podi instead. No “chatna” I say. Her face falls and she grudgingly accepts the proffered spice powder and a dollop of thick yogurt. I watch her as she painstakingly dips each piece and relishes it as she eats. I turn my attention to Ammu who is demanding more. I feel a surge of affection for all three and that carries me through the rest of the evening.

Late at night when I ease into sleep, the words nurture, nature, openness swim in front of my eyes. The resemblances and strong personality quirks I see repeat generation after generation aside, it occurs to me that the decisions regarding openness I made intuitively when Ammu and Pattu came to me are right. I knew it was the correct thing to do but till date could not put my finger on the why. I have read about genetic mirroring and the need to cultivate a strong sense of the self. My visceral bonds with Laddu and the connectedness I feel with her based on the gene pool we share only cements my thoughts on why Ammu and Pattu must know their heritage, their family and everything they would have had access to if not for the adoption. It is imperative for them to see their family and trace their features back through generations. They need to know where their love for banana bread is from. To know that being left-handed is a trait that someone in their family shares. The seemingly little things that connect them in tangible and intangible ways. To be able to have that connection is important.

Over the past few years, I have been following numerous blogs, forums, opinion on all things adoption. I have mostly kept silent fearing my voice is nascent. That I need to be further along this journey to speak from place of authority. Today as I looked at Laddu, Ammu and Pattu as they sat around the kitchen island drinking milk, it occurred to me that I have perhaps walked quite some way and my voice needs to be heard.

Mom to three. Open adoption advocate. Writer.

5 Comment on “Nature, Nurture and Why Openness in Adoption Matters

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