Friday, July 17, 2009

"Will I miss them when I'm a grownup?"

Tonight, Zoe made an appointment with me to "talk about adoption." Most of the time, our chats about adoption just come up among chats about the book she's reading, the game she and Maya are playing, the art project they're working on. But I always love it when she solemnly makes an appointment, so sober, and then the talk usually degenerates into giggles and tickles at the end. So it went tonight.

Tonight, Zoe asked, "Will I still miss my birth parents when I'm a grownup?"

I answered, "I don't know, sweetie. But even when we're grownups we miss the people we love when we can't be with them. You miss Aunt Kim, right? Well, I do too."

But she still wondered, since Aunt Kim isn't like a birth parent! So I tried, "Remember the workshop I went to when you were at Camp, with three grownup adoptees talking? Well, they each had different feelings about their birth parents. [I summed up what they said -- two had little interest, and one had a strong interest] .

Zoe was shocked to hear that there were adult adoptees who wouldn't be interested in their birth parents. "How could they not be interested?! That doesn't make any sense!"

I reminded her that not everyone feels the same way about things, and that was OK. She finally accepted that. "So," I concluded, "there's no one way to feel about adoption or your birth parents. And you might feel one way at one time and a different way at another time."

I don't think I convinced her, though, that her feelings about her birth parents will ever change. And I have to say, I'm not so sure they will on a fundamental level. Yes, she will change and grow in understanding and acceptance, but at bottom, I expect Zoe will miss her birth parents even when she's a grownup.


Wendy said...

M has asked questions similar. She also wants to know about everyone else's search--where they are in it and how she can help. I told her that some of her friends are interested and others are not and that some parents are looking and others are not. She was very concerned about those who are not looking. Her experience has been wonderful for her and she cannot fathom someone who would not want to meet them like we did, not want to know their finder, not want to vacation with them, etc.
She is very angry with parents who will not look. I told her that was some of the parents choice and some of the children's choice, she told me that it is ONLY the parent's choice and that are not good parents. Hmmm. Interesting. She will not accept that some kids don't want to know at this point; that being said, I think that she is right that some kids do want to and their parents don't. She gave me examples of two of her friends that told her they want to go to China and also see their birth parents, but these two said their moms don't know about it. Keep in mind these girls are both under six, for those who think their kids are too young it is a fact that they are not. M has talked about her family since a bit before three, I know she is not alone, maybe just a bit more vocal. I am so glad her dream came true, now to navigate the future.

Anonymous said...

Um, I'm all searchy-searchy.

My daughter is not.

She is 12 and as time goes on, I an so aware that this is her thing. I do whatever I can on the information side. In terms of pushing for action, I push not one millimetre but I keep the ol' listening ears on.

Her feelings run very deep. It could be that in the early years we did not discuss this so much. We have discussed it more as time has gone on and the discussions have gotten deeper.

Still, there is a point where my daughter pulls away. I can see her put *it* away and move on to the next topic.

All we need is little poppets running around at their a-parents' behest judging other people who don't search immediately. Know this comment is TOTALLY and UTTERLY snide and politically incorrect, but that's my reaction at this moment. Pure frustration.

I know you're both--Malinda and Wendy--doig a great job in this regard. But some of these things take time. Everyone is not the same. I wish I could get my daughter to open up about this topic but she will do so on her own time and nobody else's.

Sorry if this post seemed bitchy. Just other stuff in adoption land.

Wendy said...

I get your comment, it is not opinion. I am just sharing her opinion, she has a right to it. I can see why she feels that way after the adventure we just had. My only point in saying it was to show her thoughts at such a young age, not to judge others.
I know some children will never want to know, some will strive for information their whole lives. It is a spectrum, it is something I am trying to explain to her. Just as some would say "why do you care?", some say "why don't you look?" It is not easy on either side.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for listening. I agree.

One of my concerns is than in a reunion of adoptees, this could become an *issue*. Everyone, including adoptees, needs to know that this is a deeply personal quest.

Wendy said...

That is why I am trying so hard to make her understand that, she has many friends that she plays with and I don't want her dictating to them how they should feel. I am glad she doesn't have a superiority complex about it and is indeed wanting to help in any way she can--she is very caring and justs wants everyone to have what she does. I have to keep explaining that not everyone does want that, it is very hard for her to grasp.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who adopted 2 Russian kids. She decided to search without telling her kids about it. It was somewhat of a controversial thing to do, because, she had heard that searching should only be done if the adoptee initiates it. However, she did not want the trail to run cold. She found one daughter's birthmother and sister, but only the sister would communicate (by letter) with them (and she did tell her daughter about it when she felt the time was right). I personally would not initiate a search unless my kids expressed interest in it. Neither of my kids expresses much curiosity about their birthparents.
Sue (aka anonymous)