During a summer ago, I used to baby-sit my neighbour’s kids. . . . S and her brother J often remind me of the innocence and natural curiousity of kids (although I was never into Barbies), and so we don’t really have any ’serious’ discussions.Until one night, when I was tucking her into bed and she was telling me about her family portraits and fun events. . . .
S:Hey, ML, do you know what skin colour we are?I find that what I said - in order to keep it age-appropriate, especially for a child who hasn’t been adopted - tends to echo the view by so many (prospective) adoptive parents, even today - before they’ve adopted.
ML: Hmmm? O.o
S: What colour am I?
S: Oh. And Mommy and Daddy?
S: E’s white too, and so is J, right?
S: *sits up in bed and looks at me, slightly puzzled* You’re not white, are you? What colour are you?
ML: I’m brown.
S: Oh. *pause* Then what colour are your mommy and daddy?
ML: They’re white. But they’re my parents and they love me too. *is debating on whether or not to mention adoption*
S: *smiles* Why are they white and you’re brown?
ML: *hesitates* Because… I had another set of parents but they couldn’t take care of me. So my mommy and daddy are my parents and they take care of me.
This post isn’t meant to target parents; rather, I dwelled on it for a long time before actually writing it out, as it has been something that nagged at me for several weeks and questioned me to think, “If adoption is so complex, when we simplify it, are we minimizing our own emotions and thoughts involving it because we are afraid to go any deeper and face the truth?”
* * *
Isn’t that what the average adoptive parent tells their child - that their mother loved them so much but couldn’t take care of them, so another set of parents stepped in to take care of that child? Which of course may very well be the closest to the truth that a child can understand.
But is it really the final truth?
* * *
But when an adoptive parent tells their child “she loved you so much she gave you up”, of course they need to keep it simple and direct for their child’s understanding, but are they persuading themselves to think like that as well?
* * *
In a way, when I told S that my parents “loved me but couldn’t keep me”, a part of me felt stifled, as though that child (in me) that had been told “Your mother loved you so much she gave you up” yet again - as if I was internally telling myself to “be quiet and stop making this more of an issue of an internalized issue than you have to.”
It is not that simple, and as I approach adulthood, it has grown far more complex than I ever imagined.
Read more here. Very thought-provoking, isn't it? Adoptive parents of our era are so lucky to be able to hear the voices of adult adoptees, to learn from them what our children may experience as they grow older.