Last week my daughter and I had one of our adoption conversations, and naturally we were in the car. She just loves to liven up our errands a bit, not to mention test my ability to concentrate simultaneously on both the road and helping her form a healthy identity as an adopted child. So there we were, on our way to pick up some ice cream for a family party to celebrate her graduation from elementary school. Something she had just been watching on TV had stirred the pot in her brain containing Adoption Stuff. The show featured two teenage girls who were in the process of getting to know their birthparents. So naturally G wanted to know when we could go to California to find her birthmother. She wanted to know what I knew about her. What did she look like? How old was she? Why didn’t we have a picture of her? Why couldn’t we travel to the town where she was born and start knocking on doors and asking if they knew a woman named D who had given birth to a baby girl in January 2004? It's a small town, after all. The next thing I knew, she had my phone in her hand and was googling the population of that small town, comparing it to the relatively small town we live in now. She's got it all figured out. It can’t be that hard.
By the time we got home, ice cream in hand, she was all about the party and pretty much dropped the subject. Most of these conversations are like this…one or two, or maybe a flurry of questions…then she's distracted and onto something else. I’ve always sensed -- and professionals have confirmed for me -- that she will only ask for and take in what she can handle at a given time. We had our party and then she was off to sleepaway camp two days later.
Coincidentally, the camp she is at is for adopted children. I know how that sounds: Do we really need to segregate our kids from the non-adopted population, even at a summer camp? But it’s really a wonderful place and a great experience for all the kids. It's a camp within a larger camp (for “regular kids”, lol, that my adopted one mixes with during the day). They're not beaten over the head with adoption talk at all; their days are filled with normal campy stuff like kayaking, hiking and crafts, but they do talk adoption at certain times with other children and counselors who are adopted. Given our recent conversations, I so wish I could be a fly on the wall during those chats. But I'm pretty sure I will hear something about them when she gets home. Suffice to say, the pot will be stirred again. And again.
We have what's called a semi-open adoption. I have a file of information, including a profile that D filled out, detailing her vital statistics, family information, interests, hobbies and medical background. I mentioned it to G during that pre-party conversation, and of course she said she wanted to see it ASAP. Well the party intervened and so did SleepAway. But I have a feeling she'll be asking to see it soon after she gets home next week. I wish we had more, and wish especially that we had a picture of D. Eleven years ago, I remember the feeling of relief my husband and I had when we were told that her birthmother wanted no contact and didn't even want to meet us. But you know what they say about Hindsight. At the time we adopted, we were still relatively new to the adoption universe, and had much to learn and much to experience via our friends who would adopt after us. I've heard so many beautiful stories of birth and adoptive parents meeting, some even experiencing their child's birth together. Looking back, I don't know how ready we would've been for that, but boy, do I wish we at least had a picture to show G (and also to satisfy my own curiosity).
As other bloggers here have said, if you are an adoptive parent-to-be, PLEASE think carefully about what you would be open to. And if you can't imagine contact with your child-to-be's birthmother, take it from me and make sure you at least ask for a picture!
Written By Aileen
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