“My name is Jackie. Will you adopt me?”
There’s Maya, standing in front of me with the hood of her hoodie pulled up, saying in her little Betty Boop voice, “Will you adopt me?” This is the first time I can remember Maya initiating adoption play. I don't know what spurred it -- leaving preschool with kindergarden looming? the Miss Spider video? making the rice baby? Zoe's latest adoption meltdown? All of the above? None of the above?
After our play was over, and I was thinking about it, I realized we had touched on a number of the basic prerequisites of ethical adoption as I see it. I wasn’t doing it on purpose, it just seemed to play out that way! So here it is, An Ethical Adoption Tale in One Act, directed by Maya, additional narration by me.
“My name is Jackie. Will you adopt me,” Maya asks.
“Oh, dear. Have you lost your mommy? Do you need me to help you find her?” [First point, family preservation & investigation to make sure child is truly adoptable.]
Maya replies, “I don’t have a mommy. I live in an orphanage.”
“Then I will adopt you. I promise to love you and take care of you forever.” ((HUGS)). [Second point for ethical adoption, permanency.]
Maya reminds me, “You need to name me Maya.”
I reply, “I thought your name was Jackie. Do you want to keep that name? Or do you want to be Jackie Maya or Maya Jackie?” [Third point in ethical adoption, cultural preservation.]
Maya rejects that idea, she wants to be Maya Noelle BingLi. [Yes, indeed, this story is about her, not some fictional Jackie! And when she rejected "cultural preservation," I went where she directed.]
I then say, “OK, I’ve adopted you, will you adopt me? Will you promise to love me and take care of me forever?” Fourth point – voluntary consent (usually of birth parents, but in our story Maya stood in their place).]
Maya agrees, and there are more hugs. She then asks me to adopt her sister Zoe, and we go through the same ritual with her, with me promising to love her and care for her forever, and her promising to love me and care for me forever. Zoe and Maya decide they don't have to adopt each other since they're already sisters. [Fifth point – keeping siblings together when at all possible.]
We were at Mimi’s house, so Maya pretended to drive to meet her for the first time. They discover they have the same last name and therefore must be family! [Last point – acceptance by extended family and the community, the adopted child having the same status as biological children.]
Maya enjoyed all the play-acting and all the hugging, and seemed quite content with how the story played out. It will be interesting to see if she wants to repeat this game.