Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Day at the Beach

A Day at the Beach

When I tell people about my "adoption group" I describe it as what started out as a wonderful group of hopeful parents-to-be who, together for the most part, had survived the perils and pitfalls of infertility and then together navigated a whole new set of perils and pitfalls, those of the adoption process. (Because contrary to popular opinion, you don’t “just adopt” after you decide to move on.  It’s “just” a whole new kind of rollercoaster.)  We helped each other choose domestic vs. international, then private vs. agency.  Then together we deciphered agency paperwork, encouraged those who were nervous about calls from prospective birthmothers, comforted those with failed adoptions and false alarms, and tried to pass patience and strength along to those who seemed to be waiting forever for a match.  And happily, ultimately, one by one, we celebrated the arrival of our long-awaited little ones from as near as Nassau County and as far as Armenia. 

But, I have always said that the best thing about our group is that our children will have each other to grow up with.  That for them, being part of this group will help "normalize" being adopted for them and remove any stigma they might feel otherwise.  

Well, fast forward about 10 years.  Most of our "junior members" range from ages 10 to 14.  We have done our best to have regular play dates but we are all scattered across Long Island, and the kids have school and sports and hobbies; so life has definitely gotten in the way of us seeing each other as much as we’d like.  We basically have annual gatherings for the kids, if that often. The kids so seldom see each other that when I bring up the adoption group to my daughter, now 11, I practically get a “Who?  What group?” in response.

So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect last week when we got together with some of the group for a day at the beach. We had 5 moms, 2 dads and 7 kids. It’s so much easier to throw together 4 and 5 year olds and have them play, no matter how familiar they are with each other.  Now we have a bunch of pre-teens, who can be picky about the company they keep and sometimes socially awkward with kids they are thrown together with.   So I was very interested to see how the day would play out.  Well, it couldn’t have played out better. My daughter, who had been anti-beach and anti-ocean since an ugly incident involving jellyfish last summer, was in the ocean practically all day, swimming and boogie-boarding, as were the rest of the kids.  They all had a blast.  Together. 

But the highlight of the day was during a swim break.  The kids were on a blanket behind the adults and we were all chatting. Suddenly I overheard my daughter blurt out to her group, “So… Who here knows their birthmother?”  I nearly fell off my chair.  Suddenly all the moms were oh-so-subtly turning our ears toward the blankets behind us.  It wasn’t a conversation that lasted long.  We heard a flurry of responses, from a “Mine was a sales girl” to “Yes, her name is….” To “No, but I know….”  The responses aren’t important.  What we all absolutely loved was that this conversation happened at all.  It was just like the question had been “Hey, who here likes soccer??”  It came up naturally.  I guess my daughter suddenly remembered that this was the adoption group and where else could she ask this question?  Such a cool moment on a hot summer day.

Written By Aileen 
Adoptive Mom
Group Leader

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