After she finished reading the story, “The Family That Grew”, Mom and I sat there in silence, the warmth, and love, between us palpable. The moment had taken us over 40 years back in time to my childhood. There was something else in the air, as we both sat there, each with our own thoughts. It was a sadness, something like a death in the family; a realization of it, and acceptance of it. I finally, asked, my Mom now in her late 70s, “What do you think of that story? Do you think that is what our adoption story is like?” The conversation that followed is not one I’m willing to share. It was too intimate, and too precious to me. I’ll never forget that moment.
In my Mother’s almost 50 years of experience as an adoptive mother, she knew the story was not even remotely close to being anything more than a pretty lie about our life as an adoptive family, as well as, how we became her adopted children.
I’ve been trying for months to write this particular part of my story, to keep it pure, avoiding any influence or emotions I feel today about adoption. Going back over the years hasn’t been easy, and was much harder than I anticipated. I started many times, only to end up somewhere else, or stop altogether. It’s something I’ve worked hard to put in its place. Digging it up hasn’t been much fun, but I think it has been therapeutic, and if it helps others understand a little better, worth it.
As Thanksgiving is just a day away, I want to take a minute here to say that I’m grateful that my adoptive parents never dismissed the importance of our biology, even when we did. I am grateful that they understood the importance of acknowledging the sad fact about adoption, even when we did not.
My adoptive parents did not have the information available to potential adoptive parents, and adoptive parents of today. It was not easy for them with little to go on but a set of books the agency encouraged them to read. I see so many things, when I look back, that had they been aware, could have helped make sense of things, made life a bit easier. They did the best they could, and they never dismissed the separation of their children from their biology, never dismissed the fact that it was important, and a loss for us, even though they never had names to call it.
I am proud of them for that. I intentionally refrain from discussing my adoptive parents on this blog, and I make it a point not to use the disclaimer of “I love my adoptive parents”, because for me it is a given; never to be questioned. I am breaking my rule here to tell you that the older I get, the more I understand adoption, with its many issues, and though our family was far from perfect, I love them more now, because even though they had no idea about the loss, and grief of an adoptee, they were smart enough, strong enough, and courageous enough, to instinctively understand adoption for what it is. That is something an adoptee can truly be grateful for.