Friday, September 23, 2011

Adoption by Robin Gorman Newman

My son has always known he's adopted.  Way before he was old enough to remotely comprehend, we advised him.  We wanted to make it a non-issue.

We met him at the hospital on day three of his life, and he's been with us ever since.  It was a domestic adoption.  We met the birthmother, but she would never reveal the birthfather.  We took photos of her and video.  We even went to the downtown area near where he was born, and shot video, so that one day, if/when the time came, we could make it available.  He would know his place of birth.

Seth is 8, and over the years, we've read fiction picture books about adopted animals, etc.  It's never been a big deal.  It's just his story, and we shared the story of others.  He never thought much of it.

I anticipated one day that he might show some curiosity, but in my mind, I couldn't predict when that might be.

Last week was the time...out of the blue, as I was driving the be exact...with him in the back seat.  In between rounds of Pokemon on his Game Boy, he splurted out how he's the only adopted kid on the school bus.

I asked how he knew?

He said the other kids were talking about it.  That somehow it had come up.

It's always been hard to get a straight answer out of him at I didn't quite comprehend how the subject of adoption was broached to begin with. Why would the kids initiate such a discussion?  Were they all talking about where they were born?

Seth knows he came from Illinois.

So...before I had a car accident, due to the shock of the discussion, I pulled over and attempted to calmly share.

I asked if it bothered him that he was adopted?

He said no.

I explained that not all parents tell kids they're adopted...for whatever reason.  So, perhaps some of the kids actually are adopted and don't know it.

He said..why wouldn't they tell them?  Because the parents think the kid might be sad?

I said that some parents might want to wait until a child is older to explain.

I asked are you sad?

He said, well it is kinda be given up.

I could see his point. 

I said we met your birthmother.  She was a nice lady, but couldn't take care of you.  She had three other children from another relationship, and couldn't afford another child.  She had no phone.  No car.  Barely a place to live.  We had given her some money for expenses.  She gave you up out of love.  She wanted you to have a better life than what she could provide.  She knew you deserved to live fully and was confident that your father and I would provide a loving, secure home.

We love you high as the sky, and always have.

I ran off a list of other adopted children we know...some of whom are friends of that he could see he was in good company and perhaps didn't realize it.

Then I asked, after taking a deep breath...would you like to meet your birthmother one day?

And, he said yes.

I know he doesn't mean at this point in his life...but for the first time, it truly sunk in, that that day might come. For now, we don't know where she is.  It was not an open adoption.  But, we remain in touch with the adoption agency and each year send photos there for her, but we've been advised that she hasn't gotten them in recent years.  They surmise she has moved and didn't provide a forwarding address.  Was it on purpose? Or was it an oversight on her part?  We don't know, but I do know that if we have to track her down one day, we will do our best to find her, if it's important to Seth.

This discussion got me wondering what else Seth thinks about with regard to his becoming part of our family.  For the moment, I felt badly. I didn't want him to feel sad and unwanted.  That was certainly far from the truth.

I told him that adoption is an act of love on the part of the family adopting and the birthmother giving of her child to strangers who she is trusting with her precious baby. 

Perhaps some birthmothers don't love their children? I do believe that Seth was loved by her, and from that love sprung what I'm sure was not an easy decision, but something that she deemed necessary.

I tried to explain that to Seth.

I think he got it.

Time will tell.

But, what I do know is that I couldn't love him any more than I do.  And, I hope he feels the same about us...and in my heart, I believe that to be true.

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Blogger Jamie L said...

Beautiful post, Robin. And I think you handled everything extremely well. I've always been totally honest with Jayda about her roots, too (and, of course, those conversations will get more "grown up" and evolve as she grows up), and believe it's the best we can do: show/tell our children how wanted/loved they are...and give them whatever information we have to help them understand and process everything. Time will tell how our children react and are affected...but I'm hoping for the best :)

8:26 AM  
Blogger PuzzleArtist Alli Berman said...

I applaud you Robin for handling a difficult topic with Seth in such a compassionate way. He is 8. He has no way to comprehend you and Marc would walk through fire for him. I'm sure he will some day. He is an incredibly smart and nurturing kid and will mature over time to become an incredibly smart and nurturing man. And I hope he will see that his birth mother wasn't "getting rid of him" but rather, coming to an incredibly difficult decision to entrust him with someone who would be able to raise him in a better environment and give him so much more than she ever could. I am proud to be Seth's "adoptive" aunt- the concept of family is evolving and we have to struggle through it all to "keep up". I'm sending hugs to all of you. You did the right thing to tell Seth from very early on. It's the truth and it IS freeing. What I want to know is how the other kids learned of it? There are always "about my family" projects in school and it may have come up in that. W always want to make the journey easier for our kids. When my daughter Chelsea was 4 1/2 years old and we found out she had a hearing loss and would need to wear hearing aids, I chose neon hot pink for the squishy ear mold that goes in the ear so people would notice. I taught her that if people asked - she should tell them the truth- "some people need glasses to help them see better. I need hearing aids to help me hear better" and the bright hot pink would invariably catch people's eyes and they would ask her if it was jewelry or what was in her ears and she would simply say what I taught her and it would take away any stigma since she was so open and matter of fact about it. Because she gave them something to think about - that hearing aids are as common and necessary as glasses, people could relate to that and many times would begin a conversation with her about her hearing and there would be no tension. I think you need to say (100 times if needed) that if the conversation comes up, or if he's ever asked, or comments are made, you should equate the adoption itself to an act of love.."yes, I'm adopted. My birth mom loved me enough to give me to my adopted parents who CHOSE ME and will love me and take care of me THE REST OF MY LIFE". I think an issue that has to be dealt with is secret fears that kids have - Seth could be feeling - "maybe my adopted parents can get tired of me and give me up, or I can be bad one day and make them sooo angry that they give me up - if my REAL mom did it, anyone else in my life could do it too." Keep me posted Robin. Keep us all posted. I have never adopted a child. I always wanted to adopt 2 kids but my husband didn't want to. There are three relatives in my family who are adopted and we love them just like all the "blood" relatives. I have "adopted" those I love and been "adopted" into other families and am all the richer for it - MORE PEOPLE TO LOVE AND LOVE ME! and you and your family are one of them! hugs, alli

8:55 AM  
Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

Thanks Alli. I certainly hope that Seth doesn't have a fear that we might one day give him up. I feel like he's secure in our family...but ya never do know what kids think and don't share. I have to hope for the best and make him feel as loved and wanted as we have always tried to do.

Thanks to you too Jamie. I think it's helpful that parents share what they experience, since our kids can catch us offguard sometimes. I tried my best to think quickly on my feet when the conversation was broached, and all we can do it lay the truth out there and create stable, loving homes for our kids.

10:41 AM  
Blogger rico said...

Wonderful publish, Robin the boy wonder. And I think you managed everything incredibly well. I've always been completely sincere with Jayda about her root base, too (and, of course, those discussions will get more "grown up" and change as she increases up), and believe it's the best we can do: show/tell our kids how wanted/loved they are...and provide them with whatever details we have to help them comprehend and procedure everything.

Adoption Agency

12:26 AM  

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