Zoe and Maya have each gone through stages where they're fascinated with, um, uh, my chestal area. You know, breasts. How many times have you been with your kids and suddenly you look down and there are two little hands right . . . THERE?! For a while there, I didn't think Zoe would ever potty-train, because when I asked her if she wanted to wear big girl panties like Mama, she asked, "And a BRA?!" It seemed there'd be no pottying in our house unless she had a matching set of lingerie!
The girls have often asked whether they'll have "breasts like Mama's" (I admit, I'm not sure if there's a tinge of envy or horror in the question -- though I am well-endowed, gravity has not been kind!). It's not just breasts, of course. It's looking at me, and wondering what their aging bodies will do. The difficulty of answering that question for adopted children struck me twice in two days this past week.
First, thanks to Facebook friends, I was reading a great story about a local all-Chinese-adoptee Girl Scout Troop:
[The Daisies] lined up eagerly beside the stairs to hear Mei Lin Saunders, a 15-year-old Girl Scout cadet from Carrollton, who had brought her old Brownie and Girl Scout vests festooned with pins and badges to show them how they, too, can progress through the ranks.And then I ran across this post at The Queen of Denial, thanks to Tonggu Mama's Sunday Linkage:
"What do you all have in common with Mei Lin?" Daisy Troop leader and mom Kimberly Powell asked the nearly two dozen girls. . . . "We're all Girl Scouts!" chirped one little voice, with the others murmuring agreement. The parents chuckled softly.
"Yes, and you're all adopted from China," Powell continued. This time the girls murmured "Ahh" and looked up at Mei Lin, who usually goes by the name Jamie, all the more intently. . . . They stared as if they couldn't get enough of her.
Mei Lin's mother, Susan Saunders, nodded, understanding what was going through all those little heads, as she looked proudly at her daughter. "They want to see what they will look like when they are grown up," whispered Saunders, watching from the kitchen.
No one ever really talks about how adoption screws with your future. I mostly talk about how my past was affected by being surrendered. Or if I do talk about the future, it’s to wonder about medical history and genetic stuff. But lately, as I’ve thought a lot about aging, I realized there are a lot of things I’m missing from my view of the future such as something as simple as knowing more than one generation of your DNA. And that is something I think far too many people take for granted.While it doesn't replace actual contact with and information about birth families, this is a place where adult role models of Asian heritage can be important. If you needed yet another reason to make sure your children know Asians of all ages, this is it. How else will my girls figure out that they're not likely -- for good or ill -- to have breasts like Mama's?!
You see a lot of yourself in your family. Where you came from, where you are, and where you will be. I know where I am, and a good chunk of where I came from, but there are no clues laid out for me as to where I might be headed in the future. Most people look at their parents, their grandparents, and can see patterns of aging. It’s not an exact science. It’s kind of a look into the future. It may not be exact, but it’s a glimpse, a preview.
As of today I’m twenty two years and some odd months old. I’m still young, still in my prime years. I don’t have wrinkles and my energy levels are high and my hips still slimmed by a fast metabolism. I don’t know what the future of my body, my face, my skin, bring. I watch my adoptive parents as they are getting older and wonder a lot about my natural family. I wonder if they’re young still or if they are getting closer to being senior citizens. I wonder if my mom has wrinkles or if her skin is still taut. If she is still healthy or if she has developed a disease. The kind of things I really need to know about my future, I can only get from her. She is really the missing link I need to chain my past and future to the present.