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Adoption Blog: The Yin and the Yang

The Family Tree
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The family tree assignment comes home from kindergarten.

I’ve been expecting this one ever since I read an article, and then later a children’s book, about how an assignment like this can be upsetting for adopted children. Truth is, I’m not sure what to expect from Hanna.

The teacher sent home two pieces of construction paper, one green and one brown. Hanna is excited, wants to get started on her art project right away.

Okay. So we get scissors, markers and glue and sit at the kitchen island. Hanna picks up the green paper and a marker. I think she’s going to draw the traditional broccoli-shaped treetop.

I wait.

“I want to do a palm tree,” Hanna says, already drawing pointy fronds. Well, that makes sense since we do live in Florida.

I watch.

She writes each of our names on its own frond: Hanna, Kathryn, Daddy, Mom (my frond is very skinny, Mommy won’t fit) and Satori (the dog).

I smile.

I remember not long after Hanna came home from China, she was just learning sounds. One night, I heard her in her crib making sweet, soft sounds over and over: ma ma, da da, ka ka… I recall smiling, thinking at the time that she was claiming us as her family somehow.

Hanna looks up from her treetop. “Now, all we need are pictures,” she announces and leaps down to go find photos. Before she leaves, I ask if there’s anyone else she wants to add to her tree. Nope. She’s off.

I marvel.

This is Hanna’s family. For now. Another day she may seek her roots. Today, we are her tree.

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Stacy Clark

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