As an adoptive mother, as well as a mother with biological children, my feelings towards all of my children are on equal footing. Adopted or biological, I love all of my children. In fact, occasionally I forget that we have an adopted child. It’s just the way our family is–who is adopted and who is biological is inconsequential. Except for a few instances. One instance is visiting the doctor.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to your child’s family medical history, that takes care of half of the issue that arises at the doctor’s office. You can adequately answer most of the questions which will be important through the years as your child takes care of his/her health. But then there’s the issue that, for some, may seem not important. But for others of us, it’s big. At certain stages of emotional development, being singled out as different in any way is uncomfortable for children. So when visiting the doctor, multiple people ask about the child’s history, and you must repeat over and over, in front of the child, “he’s adopted,” what does that do to your child? And is there a way to state the necessary truth without causing your child to feel different, or less-than? Maybe.
We adopted our middle child–the others are all biological. He came to us when he was 5 weeks old. When he was a year old, his sister was born. Basically, the two were raised almost like twins. This included doctor visits. When one would be sick enough to go to the doctor, invariably, the other would be as well. So from the time before they could remember, I would have them together for doctor visits which included all the intakes. Ours was a closed adoption–not our choice. We had no family medical history for him. This had to be explained nearly every doctor visit. Unable to shield our son from that fact, we did our best to state things in a way that was not demeaning to his birth family, and did not put him down in any way. When stating he is adopted, I made sure to always have a smile on my face and tell it like I felt it–it was as if we had won the lottery with him, and I let that feeling come through in my voice. Often I would say something like, “We don’t have his birth family’s medical history, but we know they were good-looking! Just look at his dimple!” Or, “We don’t have access to medical records, but if they’re half as sweet as he is, they’re great people.”
Years later, as a 16 year old, my son was asked to write up a little paper about how he feels about adoption. Reading it was the best gift of the year for me! He said lots of wonderful things, but the one that really stands out is this: “Adoption is a non-issue for me. It’s just a fact that makes up my past, like playing soccer or breaking my nose.” It told me that we did something right, because he felt like we did: no different in love and acceptance than the rest of the family.