These are my girls, Ainsley and Payton. Sisters. Daughters. Great friends. They love and fight and play and hug and eat and drink and dance and dream and share part of our lives, our home and hearts.
They are the reason we wake up and breathe and do – pretty much everything. There was a time when we didn’t know if we could be parents. There was a time I didn’t even know if I wanted to be a parent, if I am being 100 % truthful. I wanted a career – writing was my passion – and many days even my husband probably fell into the second place spot.
I loved my life as a beat and investigative reporter. It was big and filled with adventure and excitement, education, challenges and multi-tasking. And then I did suddenly want to be a parent. And it took nine years from the start of our marriage. That’s a long time to understand, weigh and internalize all the reasons why we wanted to be parents, why we would be good parents and why adoption was our answer.
Why Adoption Was Our Answer
Now adoption is a passion that we all share. It gave us the gift of family. So we speak and provide adoption support and I write about the lifelong process of adoption.
Some people will tell you adoption is the same as parenting birth children. It is not. It is everything amplified. If parenting is hard work, well adoptive parenting, much like special needs parenting is all that times 1000.
Here’s Why It is Slightly Different
Children who come to us by adoption are 25 % more likely to have a mental health issue or disorder. They are often prenatally compromised because of drugs and alcohol. Often these children are very often carrying a whole lot of baggage at a very young age.
Parenting our children is like parenting on Mars while running a marathon. It is fielding insensitive questions at Sam’s Club because people can’t resist asking things like: “Are they real sisters?” Luckily in the art of becoming a family some families learn to fight and advocate.
It is a skill that will be challenged weekly, if not daily for the rest of your life. Our kids need advocates more than most. Embrace it.
When Sarah De Diego from Journeys of the Zoo asked me to take part in this bloghop I was giddy. I love writing about adoption and speaking about adoption, so I was in without question. I have written at length about adoption here at thriftymommastips.com and in Canadian Family magazine and The Globe and Mail and Today’s Parent and on CBC Parents.
Adoption is my favourite topic.
But today I want to take a different spin on this. My girls are now 8 and 11 and they are growing to be excellent advocates. Ainsley can now state exactly what schools do wrong when trying to manage children like her with special needs. That is amazing to me and a quality I will continue to cultivate. I often bring her with me to speak at panel night when we address prospective adoptive and foster parents. Frequently, I take her to meet the politicians I lobby for change. Because she will one day be her own advocate and because I strongly believe politicians, policy makers and educators can learn from children and former foster youth
This is from Ainsley today:
“I don’t care if I am adopted. This is my sister. Don’t ask me if she is my real sister. Yes, she is. I am adopted and you ask me where is my real Mom and Dad? That’s rude.”
“If you were adopted what would you think if I asked is that your real mom or a fake mom?”
And from Payton, my sensitive 11 year-old girl: (She told me ditto for all of the above.)
“Being adopted is like having two families, one you see all the time and live with and the other you just don’t get to see that often,” says Payton.
(As an aside, I want adults who read this post to know that it hurts my child deeply when she is asked in public if they are real sisters. I want you also to know that she fully understands her incredibly pale skin that burns at the thought of sun looks nothing like the olive skin her sister boasts all year long. My youngest turns a dark shade of brown every year despite SPF 50 +. She can tell when questions are coming from a genuine childhood curiosity. A young girl at martial arts once said: “You two are sisters?” and she followed it rapidly with: “Are you adopted? My Mom is adopted.” We all embraced that kind of question because it wasn’t thoughtless and nosy, just organic and harmless.)
Lately my girls get this question a lot. And so I told them at school they should sarcastically state: “Duh, we are twins, can’t you tell?” And walk away. I doubt very much that they will ever do this.
How I Respond
My answer is always this: “Do you mean are they biologically related with same birth mother? No. Are they sisters? Yes.”
So the answer is Yes, in every way that has ever mattered.