Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Q & A's

I don't know if anyone reading this blog is considering adoption or has questions about it, but it occurred to me that there are lots of things I used to wonder about, but that I wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable asking an adoptive parent. Now that I'm on the other side of that fence, I figured I'd post some questions and answers about stuff that maybe people think, but don't ask. SO...

1.) Is it different loving your adopted vs. biological children? I thought about this a lot as we waited for our referral, and then as we waited to travel. What would it be like to have a child I hadn't given birth to or even known from birth? Our sons were 16 months old when we met them, hardly little babies anymore. To be honest I worried a lot--what if I don't feel for them enough or what if I don't bond to them enough, etc. I loved them before I met them, but obviously in a different way than I loved the child I'd already had for two years. Then I met them and the bonding process began. Ten months later, I can honestly say that genetics are just that: genetics. Being pregnant and birthing a baby is part of the bonding process (just like receiving a referral photo and traveling to a child's homeland), but it's only the beginning. I love my boys more and more every day, just like I love Anna more and more every day. (I think it is more difficult in general attaching to a toddler than a cuddly newborn, but that's okay, it comes through time and shared experiences.) Giving birth to Anna was a miraculous, amazing, magical experience (minus the pain of labor)...and so was getting the call that we had two sons in Ethiopia, and traveling there (minus the 25 hour flight), and experiencing a new world and culture. Both are amazing and if I sit and think long enough about either one I get teary-eyed.

2.) Do you feel like you missed out on a lot of their lives?
Yes and no. Like I said they were almost a year and a half old when we got them, and they'd been in orphanages for all but the first month and a half of life. So in a sense I desperately wish I had been there for them the moment their mother relinquished them. But I am comforted by the fact that God was looking out for them and they were well cared for and nurtured. I don't have newborn pictures of them and I missed Yosef's first steps. But I don't dwell on it much right now. I imagine as they grow older they will think about this and at that point, if it's something they feel sadness over, I will definitely feel it more too. I know as they process their lives and their past we will all go through a lot of emotions. My primary"regret" these days is that I don't know more about their biological mother, father and sister (though I know a lot compared to many adoptive families.) Which brings me to the next question...

3.) Is it strange that your kids have another mom?
Not at all! This is probably something I would have thought would be weird before adopting, but it's really not. I honestly don't feel "threatened" or uncomfortable with the fact that they had a life for awhile which didn't include me. Now granted we are all so far removed from their past (unlike a child in an open adoption) so I'm sure that's part of it, but if anything I just feel tied and connected to this other woman out there, and I wish I knew her. I don't at all begrudge her the honor of having been the first mommy to my boys.

4.) Is it strange having kids that don't look like you?
Well, I don't think Anna looks like me either, so I am used to it! :) Honestly, no it's not. It goes back to my genetics just being genetics thing. I LOVE that my sons are Black, Ethiopian, and I think they are extremely cute. But that has no bearing on whether or not I "feel " like their mom. They could have white skin with brown hair like me and they wouldn't feel any more like my sons than they do. When I see Kevin holding one of the boys I see a daddy holding his son, I don't first see a white person holding a black person. Their Blackness and heritage is all a beautiful part of who they are and I happily embrace that, but just like I'm not constantly thinking about how Anna has straight hair or blue eyes, I'm not constantly thinking about what my sons look like.

5.) Do you think a white family can successfully raise a black child in the US?
This question gets talked about a lot in adoption/adult adoptee circles. I think we ALL worry to some degree about how our kids will turn out, will they be well-adjusted, will they be able to make it on their own eventually. So just like I worry from time to time about how I'm raising Anna, I worry about Yosef and Biniam too. And some of my parental worries about them ARE unique to the fact that this is a transracial adoption in a country still very polarized by race and class. Absolutely there will be some tough things to process and overcome. But we have faith that God is bigger than all of it and will give us wisdom in navigating those waters. And we're committed to doing what it takes to make it easiest on our kids. Ideally, in a perfect world, no child would have to be orphaned...or leave their country. But in the broken world we live in, it happens, and I feel really blessed to get to be the mom of two awesome little boys. I think God loves uniqueness and diversity and I think mixed-race families can be a sweet thing.

Okay those are the questions and answers I came up with. If anyone has any other questions, they can ask and I'll do my best to answer. (But no one better ask if Yosef and Biniam are actually twins!)

8 comments:

5KidMom said...

Very well said. Thanks for taking on some of the tough issues. Maybe, between the two of us, we can take turns and cover them all. 8^)

Brianna Heldt said...

That'd be sweet! You're up next...:) (I really liked your treatment of what to call the birthmom btw. I may have to link to that.)

Anonymous said...

Well written! Thank you for your honesty!
Heather

Bek said...

Well done.. I am going to link you (if that is ok). I have had many of these questions too and I am trying to do a big comprehensive "adoption" post....

Great job and well said.

Erin O' said...

Great post! It helps to read what other parents have to say about these things, as we prepare to become parents to an Ethiopian child.

Thanks,

e

Brianna Heldt said...

Bek feel free to link to me. I'll be anxious to read your post.

Anonymous said...

Hi...just checking to see if blogger will let me comment.

Sylvie said...

Very well written, I agree on so many levels as a fellow adoptive mom. I haven't visited your blog in a while, but I always enjoy reading about your growing brood!

 

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