Writing a stream of consciousness birthday post was so much fun I thought we’d roll with it for Forever Family. (I first stumbled across this concept over at The Captain’s Speech. Paul’s sharp wit keeps me in giggles – you should check out his blog.)
So buckle up and let’s go.
1. Adoption sometimes skulks around like the crazy cousin at Thanksgiving. You don’t want to give it a spotlight because you love your kids like, well, your kids…but it still sits there, drinking your booze and making you have second thoughts about your decisions.
2. All the data says open adoption is healthiest, and data doesn’t lie, right? Except when it doesn’t apply to your particular kid. And then you’re just screwed.
3. But closed adoption leaves a thousand questions unanswered, so if your kid’s not good with uncertainty then that can cause trouble, too.
4. So maybe you’re screwed either way. Open, closed, in between – everyone has their issues, right?
6. I know several families who adopted internationally but literally have no idea how real people manage that process. Working on the adoption for years? Handling the fact that your child lives in an orphanage? Dropping everything here to travel out of the country for extended periods? It’s mind boggling.
7. If I struggle to coordinate kids’ camps, family travel, and summer downtime, what are the odds I would have survived that process?
8. I’m pretty sure they’re called “not betting odds.”
9. So you decide to pursue adoption. I have to admit I was shocked to find out how many couples were waiting for years because they wanted to adopt a healthy white infant.
10. In all fairness, not everyone’s prepared to tackle what comes along with a transracial adoption so I guess it’s good those folks acknowledge that.
11. Then I wonder…okay, you feel like you’ll be the best parent for a child who is the same race as yourself, but why do so many insist on a newborn? Sure, there’s the baby magnet thing, but we’re talking about building a family here.
12. In the interest of full disclosure BrightSide and I didn’t feel equipped to adopt an older child – it takes a special family to guide kids through the trauma of being removed from their home or foster care – but that didn’t mean we needed to walk out of a hospital with a baby. There are so many young children who need parents.
13. White mama. White daddy. Brown son. Brown daughter. We announce ourselves when we walk into a room.
14. It’s kind of funny how surprised I am to learn someone’s kids are adopted just because they’re the same color as their parents.
15. The need-to-know issue gets more complex as the kids get older. I want to protect their privacy, but I don’t want them left to sink or swim. Sometimes the decision is murky.
16. Friends are simple – that’s always been their choice. As they get older they’re becoming more discerning about who deserves their trust, and that’s a valuable life skill.
17. Doctors are simple – they need this information to provide the best level of care.
18. Everyone else is…fuzzy. Teachers benefit when it comes to classroom discussion and assignments, unless my kid feels like it violates their privacy. Youth leaders fall under the same category. Camp counselors even more so since they’re watching over my kids while they’re away from home, but I wonder if T-man and Bear just want to be campers. Not adopted campers, not transracial family campers, but just campers.
19. In a case of God puts the right people in your life, one of the assistant principals at the middle school has particularly useful insight. He grew up in a small town community not far from here then attended A&T University, originally founded as a black college. He described what it was like to sit in class as the only white face in the room, and I finally felt like I’d met someone who at least had a hint of what life is like for my son.
20. They’re good kids, and we’re good parents. But I worry they’ll find themselves in No Man’s Land later.
21. Not black enough for the black kids, not white enough for the white ones.
22. Though that’s probably a struggle pretty much every biracial kid has had to work through.
23. In a similar-but-not-the-same sort of thing, I feel like I’ve juggled identity often. New kid over and over again, searching for a place to fit in. Not comfortable with popular kids, but not on board with those at the other extreme. Soccer gave me the best fit everywhere I moved except for New England – there was no way to avoid feeling like a fish out of water there.
24. I still struggle with this as an adult. I don’t know if I never really lost the outsider mentality or if I’m slow (like, slow motion snail slow) to open myself up to friendship…either way, it leads to looking around too many rooms and thinking how on earth did I get here?
25. Which makes it sound like I just made this all about me. This isn’t the same as racial identity issues, it’s just the only way I can try to empathize with my kids’ experiences.