I’ve tried to approach Forever Family posts from different viewpoints, to make them a diverse look at adoption issues overall. But in the end they’ve naturally been written from an adoptive parent’s perspective (aka mine). Even my posts discussing things the kids struggle with are still second hand – my interpretation of their experience.
I thought I might look for some firsthand resources to explore today.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my younger days.
See that sweet face? (Yeah, BrightSide, too.) How innocent, how naive…ready to go along to get along, keep the peace, calm the waters no matter what.
Well, lately I’ve been thinking about what I’d tell that 20-something me.
We’ve been off the grid so I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants for this week’s Forever Family. A bit of stream of consciousness thinking, if you will. Bear with me.
We love Christmas.
BrightSide hangs wreaths on the front of the house every year. We light them with spotlights in the evening, washing the whole house in a Christmas glow, and it’s quite a sight when we return after dark to a home bathed in the spirit of the season.
Pretty white lights are tucked into our Christmas tree, spiraling upward toward the ceiling. Bright red bows add splashes of color while years of ornaments pepper the branches high and low. Ones I’ve hung since my own childhood, ones from my teaching years, ones for T-man and Bear. Our tree is one long memory walk…my eyes flit from branch to branch, remembering family celebrations and mom’s crafts and the small gold angel my own grandma gave me years ago.
BrightSide has the honor of adding our angel to the top. (Translation: no one’s crazy enough to think me tottering at the top of a ladder to balance the angel is a good idea.) She’s serene and seems to emanate kindness with her gaze, and our tree never quite seems complete until she’s looking down over our family.
All in all, these kids of ours are pretty awesome. They’re funny, polite (especially to other people), responsible, good natured…there’s only one question we hear from folks more often than the compliment that we’ve got great kids.
“Are they biological sister and brother?”
I honestly didn’t get this at first and truth be told it still perplexes me. T-man and Bear didn’t come home together, which is the first and most obvious sign of adopting siblings, so this isn’t a timing thing. Their skin tones and body types are different enough that you’d think it would give people pause, and yet we get this question a lot. This is how the conversation usually goes.
I used to love playing the telephone game. My extremely unscientific poll of friends and family reveals this pastime to be a pivotal part of growing up in the ’70s. Or maybe it was more of a girl thing, I don’t know. Either way, there were more than a few occasions when you would have found me and my friends sitting in a circle, sending a message around with whispers. Having the refined sense of humor of nine-year-old girls we typically found the results downright comical.
“My favorite color is purple” became “I faded color in syrup”.
“John Travolta is so cute” morphed into “Long potato zipper soup”.
“Joanie loves Chachi” ended up as…well, usually as “Joanie loves Chachi”. That one was hard to mess up.
But now it seems like our grown-up lives have become one long telephone game.
A beautiful young girl, one with boundless kindness and a sweet demeanor, found herself cruelly thrown into a life of servitude by her stepmother.
A long-awaited child is taken from her parents’ home and raised by a witch. She grows to become the most beautiful child in the world, and in her twelfth year she is locked away in a tower in the woods.
The Good Queen gives birth to a precious daughter before passing away. Eventually the king takes a beautiful second wife who is both wicked and vain. When the daughter becomes more beautiful than the angry Queen she sends her into the woods to be slaughtered.
I gotta say, fairy tales haven’t exactly done women many favors. First mothers are idealized, adored, memorialized as beautiful and kind. Second mothers are cruel, indifferent, abusive…sometimes even criminal.
It makes you wonder what kind of mommy issues the Brothers Grimm had.
We all get these stories stuck in our head. Sometimes they’re ones of our own making; sometimes they’re what others tell us, words we shape and store as truth. I’d thought I was improving when it came to challenging the stories I tell myself, but we all have blind spots. Places where the story is so deeply ingrained that it’s gospel.
But what if the story isn’t true?