Barbara, Like Sadie, I feel like an ambassador for open adoption. My husband Jeff was adopted in 1963 and we adopted a domestic newborn in…...
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Adoption Blog: Man Up!
Worried About the Whys
You might have noticed, I haven't been writing much lately. It's not that there hasn't been anything worthy of note -- we've had family vacations, holidays, and birthdays since my last post -- but this is an adoption blog, and therein lies the problem. We've reached a point in our adoption journey, almost three and a half years after adopting our son, Manu, from India, that is mostly uninteresting to anyone except ourselves. We survived the long adoption wait, the travel, the adjustments every new family makes upon returning home with their child, and we're happy; we're in that beautiful place between adoption drama and tough questions. I often have to remind myself that we are an adoptive family at all. Manu is such an amazing little boy with a kind and gentle demeanor. He loves his family and seems unbothered by the obvious differences between our family and those of his friends. I hope he carries that carefree attitude with him throughout life.
But there have been questions, don't get me wrong. Manu is curious by nature, and we spend plenty of time discussing India, birth mothers, skin color, and other adoption-related subjects. We've been very open with him since he was too young to understand, and that has made him comfortable in asking us anything. He generally takes our answers in stride and at face value, and hasn't yet seemed too interested in the impending follow-up questions. The who, what, where, and whens are easy; it's the whys that keep me up at night.
How do you answer unanswerable questions? What is the right way to explain to a child how unknown adult circumstances forever altered his life? I think about this often, and while yes, there might be a right way to go about it, it won't be easy. What will I say when my son asks why? Why was he left at a hospital, all alone, when he was only two days old? Why didn't his birth parents want to keep him? The truth is, we don't know. The children's home told us all that they knew about his situation prior to his arrival, including some names and a loose story that may someday provide some comfort, but nothing that can fully explain why. Do I have it in me to tell it as I see it, or will I paint his story with rosy clichés of abandonment for a better life? Do they deserve that preferential treatment in my response? Since it is unlikely my son will ever actually meet his birth parents, does it matter how I portray them? How do I even want to portray them? On one hand, I love his birth parents for bringing him into the world. On the other, I hate them for leaving him there, all alone. And then I love them again, for not doing something worse.
What will he think of them after learning his story? What will he think of us after the veil of innocence has been removed? When I look at Manu I don't see my adopted son or my brown son -- I see my son. Manu is the only son I have ever had, but for him it's different. Will he continue to accept what we tell him, or will he fantasize about what might have been? Will I continue to be Daddy, or will I become the adoptive father?
So, while I haven't had much to write about lately, I've had plenty to think about. I want so much for this age of innocence to continue, but I know that it cannot last forever. When the time comes, I hope I can find the words that will strike the proper balance between the good and the bad. I hope I'll be able to instill in my son the idea that, it's not how you start life, but how you finish it that is important.
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