Our adoption process experience had many high and low moments, but yielded an amazing result- a blended family with two adopted and two biological children. Spending four years living and raising our young brood in Korea was challenging but loaded with great adventures. Now, living in Honolulu, with our children who are 13, 13, 9, and 8 year-olds, we continue to cope with the many challenges of raising good people. Our oldest two are adopted (one from China and one domestically adopted) and becoming teenagers. They want to start making more decisions about their life. They are beginning to ask questions about where they come from and issues of identity will set in…
Last February for her birthday celebration, our oldest daughter asked to bring 3 friends to the mall for shopping and a movie, followed by a sleepover. Her friends were dropped off while I was driving her sister to tennis. Her dad and brothers were home and muttered hello as the girls immediately proceeded into Olivia’s room and closed the door. When I came home, I knocked and peeked my head in to say hi and see if they were ready to go. I knew two girls, but the third, Zoe, was a new friend. She stared at me, open- mouthed as I introduced myself. Closing the door, I heard Zoe utter, “Are you the only Asian person living in this house?” Olivia laughed in response, saying, “of course I am; I’m adopted from China.” Zoe said something to the effect of “cool” and they went back to discussing whether lipgloss was really makeup. I was happy she is so comfortable in her skin. Adopted children, like all children, develop opinions about themselves, their environment, and feelings toward situations based on absorbing views of those around them.
Our adopted son approaches it differently. In the house, he asks occasional questions about being adopted and if I make a comment such as, “Steve Jobs was adopted”, he will respond, “oh, that’s good”. But outside the house, he doesn’t say much about being adopted. He is not upset about it; he just doesn’t talk openly outside the family. Recently, he asked about his birth mother and I told him she was beautiful with big blue eyes and blond hair. I told him we met her while she was pregnant with him and she was really nice, but just not ready to raise a child. I continued by saying she made a big sacrifice to do what she thought was right for him. Although I spoke calmly and sincerely, my heart was exploding in my chest. I really wanted to say the right thing about this very emotional topic. I want to be as open as possible and not give him any reason to think the topic scares me to death (which it does).
As parents, we die a thousand “small deaths” for our children as they grow up. If they are left out of a birthday party, shunned by popular kids, cut from a sports team they desperately wanted to make, we feel their pain and maybe more so. We die “small deaths” when they miss a key opportunity, even when they don’t care. We just don’t show it. With an adopted child, there is one more big “small death” you keep locked up in a little box inside yourself- feelings about the “birthmother”.
Read part two of Eileen Wacker’s #ModernMom Adoption story here.