In a day, November will firmly belong in the past and the count down to the New Year will begin. All through this month, I have been reading and absorbing the viewpoints of Adoptees, Birth families and Adoptive families. I have been following the #FlipTheScript tag on Twitter. As I read each piece filled with angst, anguish, gratitude or sadness, my eyes well up. I relate to some of the adoptive parent viewpoints. I relate to some adoptee viewpoints and I relate to some of the birth parent viewpoints.
I say some because I have had issues from the very beginning about treating adoption like pregnancy or even birthing children. This was prior to having experienced pregnancy myself. I also have a problem with the ‘born from my heart’ phrase. As much as I craved the experience, it felt like painting adoption as like pregnancy was taking things too far. To me, it was an alternative path, not a substitute.
When my daughters came to me, I understood and accorded their birth family a place on my family tree. In the first few years as I shared details of our open adoption sparingly amidst people I knew, the first question usually turned out to be “Aren’t you afraid?”. “Not really” I would say and redirect the conversation elsewhere. Long past the triggering conversation, I would lie awake at night wondering what is it that I should be afraid of. I wondered if, perhaps I was not bonded enough to my children and that is why I was not feeling the fear or insecurity I was supposed to be feeling. I never really had an answer.
Over the past two years with my youngest joining the family, I have had many occasions to mull over the differences between raising my first two and the last. This past week as my first child ran a high fever and lay across my bosom, her body burning with heat, I teared up, sending fervent prayers to the Gods to please let me take her pain. I sat in the darkness, outside her door as she struggled to fall asleep being coughs that stemmed from her belly. The intensity of my feelings for her surprised me.
I sat there imagining a time when the kids rooms will be empty and it occurred to me that I will be sad to see them go and happy for them to live their lives. They will go on to form attachments that will usurp me of the primary place in their affections. The more I thought about it, I was OK with it. Thoughts turned to their birth family. They are family to me in more sense than one. I wonder if they will occupy more share in my childrens’ lives than they do now. I realized that was possibly true too. And surprisingly, I seemed to be OK with that.
It hit me then that, the fear that people kept alluding to stems from a lack of acceptance that my children have other families. People who have a place at the table so to speak. I don’t know if it is because we crossed racial lines or if the fact that they were toddlers when we became their parents, their heritage is a real, living presence in our lives. Because we accept, we understand that they can love two (or more) families in their own way. Trying to quantify how much we are loved or what place we are accorded in their lives is a surefire way to head down the path to fear and insecurity.
I have no way of knowing what my children will feel about all of this in the years to come. The only thing I can do is to make sure that I do not impose my fears on them or expect them to be grateful for the quirk of fate that binds them to me as mom and daughters.