Sunday, September 25, 2011

Seeing Adoption in a Different Light

I have 2 children...a 20 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. People not in the know would almost always ask...Why such a huge gap between the two?  I understand their curiosity because if I were in their place, I would wonder too.  And so, I would always take the time to explain that my children are adopted.  But it wasn't always that easy when my son was growing up... not because I wanted to keep it a secret.  On the contrary, by the time he was 4, my son knew that I was not his only mother and that he had another one who gave birth to him.  The act of adoption, fostering and guardianship were nothing new or strange to my family.  There was always an adopted aunt, cousin, nephew and niece in the past and present generation, so it wasn't like being adopted was such a big deal to us.  But you see, I used to think that saying he is adopted would make people treat him differently and I did not want that.  I get so tired of people telling me (and him) how lucky he is; they forget that through this boy I was given the gift of motherhood and therefore "lucky" works both ways.  So to avoid this and other insensitive comments, I would ask my mom to just introduce him as my son.  Of course, my mom after doing so and once my son was out of hearing distance, would always make clarifications since she did not want people to think I had a child out of wedlock. In fact, one funny story was when my son enrolled as a college freshman and the person interviewing him used to be a co-professor of my mother when she was still teaching in that university.  He looked at his papers and asked him if his mother was me and of course, my son said yes. My son laughingly told me about it when he got home and described the incredulous look on the professor's face. Surely, the very next day this professor called my mom to ask about it, saying "just last month I saw your very single daughter and yesterday, this boy tells me she is his mother!...How in heavens name can she have a son as huge as this boy in such a short time?"  Hahahahaha!  My mom had a good laugh and explained to him, that I have an adopted son.  Today I say the word "adopted" freely because I soon realized that by not saying it gives it an even more negative connotation, as if being adopted was something to be ashamed of.  My experience taught me that avoiding the word even though we never kept his being adopted a secret only made me more defensive and protective of my son, which did not help him as he was growing up.  In fact, bullies in school picked on him just because he had better clothes, better things and was much more well taken cared of as compared to them who had "real" parents.  It was as if he had no right to be better than any of them because after all he was just the son of a servant girl. I am glad that my son has surpassed all these challenges with grace and dignity. He knows he is loved unconditionally by us and not surprisingly, because he is so caring, friends from elementary and high school continue to seek him out.  He will be 21 in 2 months time and has grown to be a reliable, protective and loving man.  And he proudly says that he is adopted.  And my little girl?  After having my son, I never thought I would be raising another child.  When he was in Grade 5, he begged me to have a brother or a sister but I refused, mainly for financial reasons.  But God works in mysterious ways.  After 18 years, I was given a daughter or maybe more age-appropriate, a granddaughter ;) ?  She came for a visit when she was 5 months old and decided to stay :) Yes, she is a handful at 3 years of age but gives us a lot of love and happiness.  We are all under her spell.  As to her future...her "Dada" (the name she calls my son) who loves her to bits and who together with my mom convinced me to keep her, has promised to pay it forward.  God in his infinite wisdom chose to let this baby survive in spite of the odds and made a way for her to come to us.  It is a small miracle that she is so normal, very bright and healthy.  Who am I to question the will of God?

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