When my 5-year-old son was asked to tell his class what was one thing unique about him, he answered, “I am adopted.” A year later, his new teacher asked a similar getting to know you question and his response was more detailed. “I am adopted. I am Italian, part Hispanic, African American and American (his way of saying Caucasian).” Being adopted has been a big part of my children’s identity.
One of my kids’ favorite activities of the year is going to the Annual Adoption Walk at Liberty Park in November for National Adoption Awareness Month. For two years in a row, my children have been the first ones to cross the finish line. They love it! This can only be topped by going to Boondocks. You would think my children won a GOLDEN TICKET for how special it makes them feel to be invited to go to Boondocks just for being adopted! But that is how we feel every day, like the luckiest family in the world!!
If there is one thing we’ve done right as a family, it has been creating a family identity based on love. I am sure most families could say that, but my family came a different way. It came though the love of adoption. We have four beautiful adopted children, two boys, and two girls.
We are open, honest, and, most importantly, positive when sharing adoption experience with our children. Each one knows their own birth stories. We made story books for each child (detailing specifics about their stories), and they love reading them. They all know their birth mothers, and they all have access to them (based on what each child wants/needs and what is appropriate with our birth families’ situations). Without a doubt, they know their birth mothers love them.
The best part of growing as a family is sharing the adoption experience with our older children. Most children naturally become more interested in their own birth stories when their mother is pregnant with another child. They watch her belly grow and they wonder if they were inside her belly like this new baby. When the baby arrives, they wonder if they were cared for and nurtured in this same way.
Similarly, my children, who were adopted, naturally asked more questions about their birth stories and adoptions as they witness our family growing through another adoption process. Our children were invited to join us in our adoption experiences (when appropriate). My oldest used to count the open seats in the minivan and say, “We can adopt three more!” They prayed with us, they mourned losses with us, they were filled with joy and delight when we decided to adopt again, and they adored the precious babies we brought home. If we mentioned our new baby’s birth mother, they would want to talk about theirs. It was a fabulous opportunity for us to share even more. As they saw us giving extra special attention to them, they felt for themselves how special it is to be a part of our adopted family. I love these moments.
My children are so proud of their adopted identity it shows. Yesterday, we went to lunch for our daughter’s birthday, and the waitress asked how we were going to celebrate. She was thrilled to share, “We are going ice skating with my birth mom!” Followed by my 12-year-old son who added, “All four of us are adopted and have our own birth mothers.” Truly, I live in a new world in which openness, acceptance and love are more abundant.
When I was a kid, adoption was not a common theme in my world. Now it is all around me and my kids. God has sent beautiful people into our lives to love our unique little family, including children sent specifically to our family to be best friends (when perhaps no one else could). Our birth families have been loving, kind, honoring, and understanding of our role as parents and purposes as a family. Our family and friends shower my kids and family with love every day. We are literally and figuratively surrounded by people who have adopted, were adopted, placed a child for adoption, or have come to love and appreciate the special way in which my family was formed through our sharing adoption experiences or someone else’s story.
My children live in a magical world where they are surprised to discover their new friend next door wasn’t adopted. Most importantly, they are used to being loved by everyone around them and that everyone wants to hold them on their lap or kiss them on their lips in “true love” just because they got out of bed today. Who am I to tell them otherwise? Instead, I will continue to tell them, “YOU ARE ADOPTED, SPECIAL, and LOVED!!”