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So it appears daughter number two is content to follow in daughter number one’s footsteps. At least when it comes to asking the very serious heart-stopping adoption-related questions. Up until now – she recently turned six – she has been relatively passive about her adoption story. She hears it but does not question it, at least not usually. Sometimes I wonder if she is even hearing me. But I repeat the words and rehearse the script, full of phrases common to our family now. Part of telling the story is learning how to get comfortable with it yourself.
My elder daughter from the age of two and a half started asking super difficult questions regarding adoption. The ones that make you pause and think. And that’s okay by me. I’d rather have my children be forthright and open when it comes to adoption. After all we are setting the stage for a lifetime here and a lifelong relationship. When I think of it this way it is never simply about a question and there’s never a wrong time or place.
While I was getting ready this morning tiny sixer with newly missing tooth called me into the bathroom where she was having a shower and asked: “Mom, am I adopted?” To which I replied, “Yes.” “Is Payton adopted?” and another “Yes.” And then the punch to the gut. “What if you got different kids?” Right to the heart of it. No bones about it. This is one of the things I so love about little kids. They don’t mince words. They aren’t PC and they don’t couch the blows.
What if? It goes to the very heart of adoption, which is occasionally a planned process resulting from an unplanned pregnancy and, at other times, extremely random. It is an adult decision that impacts a child, a process through which the adoptee has no control.
With my older child the adoption was planned, the result of two adults making an adoption plan – otherwise known as a relinquishment. Her birthparents chose us out of dozens of applicants seeking to adopt, dozens of potential parents. We were chosen. So when it comes to her story I cannot really narrate it as a chosen child scenario when in fact it was us that were chosen. With my youngest daughter in fact it was the opposite, or an apprehension. Ever single adoption is unique. This is one unchangeable common factor amongst all adoptions. Each one is different. My youngest daughter’s biological parents couldn’t parent and therefore she was available for adoption. Not exactly the same thing and even I admit totally random. So how to answer this question? Simply and with candor. This is my fall back position on all hard questions they ask. Do it with simple language, honestly.
“Well then we would be very different people,” I told her. My youngest has had some challenges stemming from special needs and prenatal substance exposures. She rages. She lacks impulse control. She runs and often disappears. We have had our ups and downs and really difficult parenting moments with her and yet she brings us a great deal and makes us better parents too, parents who think outside the box and have to reinvent parenting almost every day. “We would be very different people. We would be a little bit sad,” I tell her. “You are a great girl and you bring us a lot of gifts Ainsley.” Some adoptive parents say you get the children that were meant for you, citing a spiritual component to the adoption process and perhaps it is so, but to a sixer processing it with six-year-old eyes on a rainy Tuesday morning it is sad, it is happy, simple and complex, a point of fact and also strangely random.