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Adoption Blog: Inconceivable Family
Talking to Myself
She’s just 19 months old. She doesn’t even speak in two-word sentences yet and she can’t sit still long enough to read a book with one word on each page. She can’t use a fork with any degree of effectiveness and she is just starting to indicate that she has gone “poo poop.” So why am I so scared to broach the subject of adoption with her?
Since the first night Anna slept in her own room, I’d rock her gently and we’d do the “Thank Yous.” I’d stroke her hair as I’d run through the list of people we were grateful for and how they each helped us through that particular day.
Thank you to Daddy for dancing with you in the living room and making you laugh when he pushed you into the air.
Thank you to Grammy for having a family dinner so that Mommy and Daddy could eat some good food for more than 3 minutes.
Thank you to Auntie Trish for kissing you and telling you she loves you every time she sees you.
The last two people we’d thank were Miracle Maker (MM), the counselor who brought our family together and my daughter’s birth mom who “entrusted us with the greatest gift I’ve ever known.”
The Thank Yous are such a great idea on paper. What a lovely thing to do to end the day well. But really there was a hidden agenda there. Was I preparing Anna for the conversation of how our family came to be? No. Truth be told, I was preparing myself. I’d get to the end of the list and hold my breath each night. I’d think, “One day she will ask me who these last two people are.” What the hell am I going to say then?
There is this notion in adoption that openness makes the family stronger. I’ve been told that if I act casual about the fact that Anna was adopted, she will learn from that and act like it’s no big deal either. Family members have told me that I’m making it more important than it needs to be. Friends have asked why I’m so worried about this conversation because they often forget that Anna was adopted. I get what they are saying, and I really appreciate that Anna is so perfectly woven into our family. They aren’t wrong. She is my daughter and there are times when I, too, forget that she was adopted. But they are wrong in thinking that I’m making it more important than it is. Adoption IS a big deal. And while eventually it will probably be just a part of how we all came together, I know that Anna’s adoption will be important to her, so practicing the conversation that will start a million other conversations over the years doesn’t seem like it’s an extreme measure.
At the same time, I feel like I am the one who needs the talk. I need to believe it. I need to believe that I am just simply grateful to her birth mom.
I speak in gracious ways about her to friends and family and to Anna herself, but there is a part of me that isn’t just grateful. I’m resentful too. I know, that’s not nice. But it’s true. I see the most beautiful girl I’ve laid eyes on and I resent that anyone could place her for adoption. Selfishly, I’m grateful she did get placed, but I hate that it may one day cause her to feel even a second of isolation or a momentary awkwardness among friends. How do I talk about a woman who placed her for adoption in kind terms, when there is a part of me that feels so angry that she would do that to begin with? I suppose that much of my preparatory “Thank Yous” are done in the hopes that, by the time she knows what I’m saying, I’ll completely believe it myself.
The real conversation will be many months away and it will develop as time goes on. I know that my feelings about her birth mom will shape her feelings, not just about her birth mom, but about her as well, and so my tone and words my be carefully crafted. There is a responsibility to my child to present the fairest and kindest portrait I have available to me at the time. But I have always been truthful and open about so much in my life. I have placed my privacy aside to tell the story of our infertility and adoption. Now I find myself asking if this, the most important time to be open and truthful, will leave me without the words to do so.
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Jenna NadeauNew Hampshire
I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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