Having two children that are so incredibly different has taught me a lot. My eldest was easy going from the start – a good sleeper and a bright cheery little babe. She was Christmas Day every morning for the first five years of her little life. My youngest, well she appeared with some potential special needs and was born with prenatal exposures to drugs and alcohol. She was a sweet baby and a really challenging toddler. She is an active child with special needs. She teaches us a lot about life every day. I love my two unique girls with every breath and fibre of my being. We are blessed that both of our girls found us through adoption.
Our children know they are adopted. It is simply a life fact and a piece of their history. Their story. Adoption is to them some days a word weighted with happiness and sometimes a word weighted with sadness and yet other days a mix of so many variations on all of the emotions that I couldn’t begin to comprehend them all. Anyways, from the time my eldest was two she would ask smart and pointed adoption questions. Literally at two that looked like: “Did I grow in your tummy?” And at four and five she would ask: “Who else is adopted? Where is my birthmom?” And at six: “What does my birthmom look like?”
My little one, now seven, well she often has so much else on the go that she rarely cares to discuss adoption. But sometimes she surprises me. Every now and then a really intense adoption question arises. Throughout the last few years the questions have sometimes been those crazy bombs that hit you when you are driving down the 401 in a rush. Other times they are very much prompted by a school assignment. That’s okay. I always take a moment to answer the questions honestly and openly and to the age level that is appropriate. My youngest this past year did a project on community helpers. In her project she used pictures. One was a picture of a judge. She chose that community helper because he is pictured in a photo of all of us happily becoming a family of four on her adoption day. I very much knew there would be questions from other kids in grade one about adoption and I prepared her a wee bit for the possibility, but she wanted to bravely take her project in like that. Judges are helpers. I liked that. I recalled various projects throughout the years with my now ten-year-old, some so blatantly insensitive that I felt like screaming at whomever devised the curriculum. Some that had my daughter in tears. Some that prompted me to come in and do a whole big presentation to the class of six year olds. Some we negotiated together quietly. Anyways my youngest has always been a different breed of child. She is rough and tumble, with a big fierce heart. She is athletic and less verbal in some ways than her sister. She is also a hands on girl. So she took her project in and a few days later I heard from the backseat of the van: “Jack didn’t know I was adopted and when I took the project in he told me that was weird.” Big pause and intake of breath from me. “Oh, well what did you say to Jack?” Without missing a beat my cute as a button no nonsense girl said: “I did this.” She demonstrated holding her fist up. “And I said say it again and see what happens.”
Oh my, I thought. “What happened then?”
That was it. He walked away. End of conversation.
I am still kind of laughing to myself as I recollect how this probably looked on the playground. My stick girl standing up for herself. When my eldest had similar playground adoption moments she would cry and be angry and rage and work through all of it later with me. It might take a week or longer to get at the problem and the emotional layers. My little one solved it herself. End of story. When they say children are like snowflakes I believe that is very true, each one is different with a few small similarities. So too for adoptions. Each one is a snowflake.