I was driving my ten-year-old somewhere this week, and he piped up from the backseat, “It’s kind of like you’re my birth mom.” At a stoplight I turned around with a huge smile on my face and said, “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me!”
We started fostering Justin and his two older siblings when he was sixteen months old and they were eight and five. Two years later, we adopted all three. Even though he is the only one that has no conscious memories of the birth parents, he has been the only one to obsess over being adopted.
He has worried that it makes him different. He has worried that he doesn’t look like us. That one is almost funny because he’s the spitting image of my husband, and most people think we adopted the older two but that Justin is our biological child.
Of course we’ve talked with him about how special being adopted makes him, how badly we wanted him, how hard we worked to get him. I don’t think adopted kids realize that we adoptive parents usually work a lot harder to have families than the biological parents do. I mean the old-fashioned way of having kids is pretty easy. Having to be certified fit as a parent and subjecting oneself to the approval of others before we can have a child can be brutally difficult.
We’ve also taken him to counseling to talk about his being “mad” about being adopted. I had reached the point of thinking he just needed to be mad as long as he needed to be mad, and if he was going to have an issue with being adopted, then he would have to deal with that throughout his life.
He would say things like, “I wish I came from your tummy,” and I would tell him I wished the same thing, but we have a different kind of family. “You were in the tummy of a mom that couldn’t keep you safe, and I couldn’t have a baby in my tummy, so Heavenly Father gave you to me to keep you safe.” Justin seemed to be comforted by my explanation, but he kept making comments and asking questions that made me realize he was having a hard time with it.
So when he finally said, “It’s kind of like you’re my birth mom,” I was thrilled. I realized he had worked something out in his own mind that allowed him to see me positively. He said, “You love me and give me hugs, and she didn’t.” I know that’s ten-year-old logic, but it made sense to me. He has no memories of her, and I would bet a great deal of money that she hugged him and loved him, but in his mind, he’s making peace with getting hugs and love from me. It really is the nicest thing he’s ever said to me.