Is it just coincidence that I attend "Annie," a musical about an orphaned little girl adopted by a very rich man in the 1930's, in the same weekend as I attend for the 8th year the OURS Through Adoption Conference? Seems like this weekend is focused on adoption, so it seems appropriate that my blog do the same.
Having two adopted children doesn't always mean that I'm aware of our family as being "different," but certainly sometimes that comes in to play. Most of the time it doesn't really enter my consciousness, but other times it does and has to. Only now are my kids getting a handle on the concept of "family." So, I'm sure the questions are beginning more than ever before. If you're an adoptive family, I highly encourage you to stay connected to the adoption community; your family IS different than other families sometimes, and having support from other families can be invaluable to you. Having experiences with other kids like themselves, can be invaluable to the children.
Our family has been formed through a domestic adoption and an international adoption. I feel blessed to have had both experiences, but it means the kids' experiences are quite different, too. Our son knows his birthmother as we have an ongoing relationship with her family. Our daughter, having come from a Russian orphanage, will likely never know much about her birth family. If she does, it will be years from now and after a search. These are two VERY different stories with different ramifications for our children. A presenter today said something that stuck with me. She said that if we/I ever have a questions about our past we can find out the answer instantly; all it takes is a phonecall and someone will have a ready answer, but not so for those with unknown origins. I know my grandparents, their stories of how they met and fell in love, how old they were when they had children, what they ate at family celebrations and holidays, what they looked like and what their jobs were. If I want to know more about them or their siblings I can consult my mother or a family tree that has been compiled.
My daughter will not have any of this. It is no wonder that they can feel lonely and sad and disconnected or out of place. Who am I? Where do I belong? How am I like my parents? How am I different from them? How am I like my birth parents? How am I different from them? So many questions for now and later.
Once an adoptee, always an adoptee. It never goes away, and neither does the pain and grief of what has been lost. No adoption starts from a happy story. Think about a significant loss you've had - it doesn't matter what it was - that feeling of loss never leaves you; your life will never be the same. You'll learn to cope with the new life you lead, but you won't forget. And neither will the adoptee.
And so, today I have been reminded of the joys of being an adoptive family AND the pain and grief. I've been challenged to parent in a way today that will provide tools for my children through rough times in the future. Although Annie's story may be a bit too idealistic, I too say "tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. You're always a day away."