“I look at your boys and I see you and your husband in them but I can’t decide who your daughter looks like.”
“Who does she get those blue eyes from?”
“Oh lucky you! Finally a girl after three boys! What a blessing!”
“So what did you do to get a girl this time?”
“Are you going to stop having children now that you have a daughter?”
“Who does she look like?”
So many times questions have flown at me and they tend to catch me unaware. At first, I was almost apologetic that we had adopted.
“Yes, a girl after three boys . . . we adopted . . . ”
“She gets those blue eyes from her dad but she looks like her mom.”
At what point do you stop? When do you stop sharing your story and just let life be?
For me, it came with the realization that I did not need to explain to anyone else where my daughter came from or who she looked like. She is ours. Yes, she has blue eyes and we all have brown, but you should see her with her Grandpa Fisher. Their eyes match. She is his first Grandchild with blue eyes. One he wished for, prayed for, wanted, and loves.
When to share my adoption story? At first I shared our story all over the place. At the grocery store buying formula when she was just days old. At the boutique buying sweet dresses. At the post office, at the gym, at work where people had unending questions. But somewhere along the line, our adoption story weaved into our family life story and it became second nature. We stopped bringing it up all the time. Strangers don’t know that our daughter was adopted. People at dance class have no clue. The family we met at the beach and played with for a week? Yep, they had no need to know that our daughter was adopted.
So at what point do you stop incorporating that into your daily life? I’m not sure. We’re four years into our adoption journey and one day I realized that it was not that big of a deal to not bring up if we weren’t asked or led to do so. Instead, I wanted to hear the stories of other families.
One day while working the book sale at my son’s school I met a mom. She was a regular mom, taking a day off work and helping kids buy books at our children’s school. I causally mentioned our daughter and she did hers, and as we talked, we discovered that not only did we each adopt our daughters several years apart, but that we used the same agency! I asked her question after question about her journey. It was fun to hear how her family grew and to compare the emotions to what we felt when ours did as well. Her husband even wrote a book about their journey. It was a heartfelt book about infertility and adoption. I was glad to meet her. When we see each other at dance class, we smile at at each other and our girls. A kindred spirit who I would not have connected to without sharing of our stories.
I have found that even as we get further we get from the event of adoption, our stories remain precious to us. When I have talked with families who adopted years ago, their emotions come right to the surface. They can remember vividly where they were and what they were feeling when they knew they would be a forever family. A friend of mine who adopted from foster care told me the story of how they came from an airplane from vacation and found out their girls would be theirs forever. Their tears and joy I can still feel from the echoing of her voice. Another friend shared her journey through international adoption. Each family has its own story and special memories about becoming a family. Watching friends go to China to adopt and following every step is a magical time for us all. I don’t need to interject my daughter’s story, only watch their daughter or son’s journey unfold from the front lines. It is priceless. It is at these times I know that stepping back and listening to their story is the best choice.
When we choose to share our adoption story, it is usually when we are specifically asked. What agency did we use? What was the process like? What were the costs? Where did we get a home study done? What were we open to? Would we pay expectant mother funds? How long was ICPC? If someone has a specific question, I am more than happy to answer. If they are looking for guidance, I am happy to show them the way. But if they have a story to tell, I want to hear it firsthand. I want to hear how God worked miracles. I want to know how hard they tried for a family, or that they didn’t and a baby fell into their laps. I love the fact that each of our kids start to look and act more like us. I want to hear their frustrations and joys that come with adoption.
Just as much as I want to share our daughter, I want to share their kids, too. Because we are all bound by our histories. Ones that bring us together. Stories that join us. And non-traditional ways we have brought kids into our lives, whether young or older. They are the vines that entwine us as our family trees get stronger with each passing day.
I encourage each of you to stop and hear the stories around you. See how God works in the upper stories of our lives. Not only bringing the children that were meant to be into our lives through this miracle of adoption, but to enrich your life with their steps. Learning from each other, standing with each other, supporting each other is how we get through life. The more open we are to hearing other’s stories, the more open our lives become, and then the real blessings flow in.
I’m not saying don’t share your journey . . . please do! I want to hear it. I want to see once again, the real life miracle that adoption is to all of us. So share away, but remember to listen, too. You never know who needs someone to just hear them.