Sunday, April 5, 2015

Telling My Kids My Own Adoption Story

As an adult adoptee with children, one of them adopted, talking about my own adoption experience can be challenging, especially on the tougher parts of the story. First, let me give you some background.

I was placed with my adoptive family at 1 year but not officially adopted until I was 8. In between I had regular, weekend visitations with my birth parents who were divorced. One weekend, I was with my dad and the next with my mom. It was confusing, to say the least. At 8, the judge decreed that time was up and I was no longer allow contact with my birth mom until I hit adulthood. My birth dad stayed in my life for the next 7 years because my adoptive parents were his parents. As a teen, his issues were big enough that he disappeared one night and I didn't hear from him again until I was married with kids.

When I had my first daughter, I fully invited my birth mom and her family including my step-father, a half brother and a huge extended family back into my life. I loved having more grandparents to dote on my children and I enjoyed getting to know her as an adult.

When my daughters got older, things got a little more confusing trying to keep the grandparents straight. I would tell stories about growing up with my adoptive mom but they also knew my birth mom and wondered why she wasn't in those stories. Then there were the family trees they had to make for school. How, exactly, do you fit two families on one side of a family tree?

After much prayer, I knew that honesty, even about the hard parts of my adoption story was the only way to go. Of course, I had to keep it age-appropriate. When they were younger, I simply told them I was blessed to have two mommies and daddies who cared for and loved me. I followed that up with pointing out that they had more grandparents than most other kids because of it.

With my birth family
As my daughters got older, they noticed things like how my adoptive mom has no contact with my birth mom. They also noticed that I had very few stories about my birth mom and began to wonder why. That is when I began telling them more details. I shared with them how young my birth family was when I entered the world. As pre-teens they tried to imagine having a baby at 15 and couldn't. I shared with them, that just like we make mistakes, my birth parents made mistakes when they were young that led to my adoption. I didn't go into any details about those mistakes. My kids only know a loving grandma, they don't need the past dredged up any more than I do. I also shared with them how I have forgiven my birth parents for those mistakes and for not being able to parent me. Just like how God forgives us when we mess up. I shared how much I enjoy my relationship with my birth mom now.

I also talked about how, even though I love my birth parents, I don't regret being raised by my adoptive parents. They loved me and cared for me and weren't perfect (just like I'm not a perfect parent.) I told my children that I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't been raised by my adoptive parents. I might not have met their dad or had them if I hadn't been raised by my adoptive parents. Every time I shared some part of my story I let my children know that both of their sets of grandparents are an important part of our lives.

With my adoptive family
Now, I do handle things a bit differently with my adopted son who is much younger than his siblings. Because of the parallels in our stories, I have found myself sharing a lot more with him as we talk about his story and the hard parts of it. I remind him that I was adopted just like him. I remind him that I was with my birth parents for about a year, just like him. We talk about the fact that we both have two sets of parents and that BOTH are important to who we are and where we come from. I tell him I understand when he feels frustrated or wishes he could be with his birth family.

Honestly, this is the best part of being an adoptee who has adopted. When he feels frustrated or has behaviors that are uniquely from an adoptee, I can tell him I understand...because I really do. I remember feeling the way he felt and more. I remember trying to control everything and everyone around me because my life was out of control. I remember pushing people who loved me away. Rejecting them before they could reject me.

My birth children are teens now and they accept things as they are. Their family tree is a bit wider on one side than the other to accommodate both the adoptive and birth family we claim as our extended family. My adopted son seems to take comfort in both of us having walked this road. For that matter, his family tree is even crazier than my teens. He has my birth and adopted family PLUS his own birth family to add in there some day.

Overall, the biggest thing that is important for all of my children to understand about adoption is that both my adoptive family and my birth family are important to who I am. One gave me life, a history,  and a heritage. The other cared for my life, walked through the good, the bad and the ugly with me, and gave me an additional history and heritage. I treasure and cherish both and desire them to do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment