Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Wrong Babies

Last night Maya said before bed, “Can we talk some more about ‘Chinese eyes’?” By that I thought she meant the eye-pulling gesture, of course. I asked her if she had been teased like that, too, and she said no. I didn’t know exactly what she wanted to talk about, so I asked. She said, “Why do people do that?” I turned the question around to her: “Why do you think people do it?”

Maya answered promptly, “Because we’re different.” We talked awhile about being different, and how it makes her feel (with Zoe chiming in on how great it is to be different, and Maya not so sure).

Then Maya threw out the real issue on her mind: “Some people might think you got the wrong babies.” After establishing that no one had said that to her, I started to probe at why “some people” might think that and whether MAYA thought that.

She talked about the fact that we didn’t match, that I didn’t have Chinese eyes, and then deviated into what “some people” might be thinking – “Maybe they think we had a Dad and he died, and we grew in your tummy but someone gave you the wrong babies.”

Lots of threads to pull there (the “grow in your tummy” thing, the “no daddy” thing), but the one I wanted to deal with immediately was debunking the “wrong babies” thing. No way do I want Maya thinking she’s somehow the wrong baby because we don’t match.

I’ve never done the “chosen child” thing. For one thing, it’s not true in the sense that I did not PICK my children, the CCAA matched us and offered their referrals. My only choice at that time was to accept or reject. And I agree with the authors of Talking With Young Children About Adoption: “this story line about specialness could become a burden for a child. What is chosen can be unchosen. If one was so special as to be chosen, what will happen if one is ‘bad’ or even ‘average’?”

But when I was thinking my way through how to refute the “wrong babies” idea, I started down the “I chose you” path, until Zoe pulled me up short. “But you didn’t pick us,” Zoe said, “they matched our files in China.”

True enough. But it certainly was my choice to adopt from China. So I started again:

“When I decided I wanted to have children, I chose to adopt, and I chose to adopt from China. I did that knowing that my children would look just the way YOU look, with beautiful Chinese eyes, and gorgeous black hair, and wonderful golden skin. I KNEW we wouldn’t match. I know that sometimes you wish we did match, and that’s OK. But you and Zoe are exactly the right babies for me.”

Then Maya, with her usual want-to-make-everyone-feel-better way, said, “And you’re the exactly right Mama for me!”

Still lots more to talk about, but it seemed a suitable note to go to bed on.

P.S. It just struck me that the catalyst for this discusion might have been Dinosaur Train -- the "wrong egg" in the nest? Hmmmm. If so, I love the show even more! ANYTHING that serves as a springboard for discussing difficult issues is worth viewing!


Lorraine Dusky said...

Once again, thank you Malinda...I know it must be a difficult subject but you are handling it with grace and honesty.

A first mother,

lorraine from

We just started on the "returned" baby story over there.

The Gang's Momma said...

A wonderful post - I'm not there yet with my toddler but I so enjoy reading other moms' stories and learning from them. This one will stick with me. I appreciate you sharing it and I love the "wheels turning" that your girls' minds do. You must be very proud, even if they temporarily baffle you with their questions :)