Tonight the girls and I watched a Scholastic DVD that included the story "Rainbabies." I like the Scholastic DVDs because they follow the books so exactly, and have DVDs of many of our favorites. "Rainbabies" was new to us, though. The Publisher's Weekly blurb describes the book like this: "a childless couple finds a dozen tiny rainbabies in the grass after a moonshower, takes them home and tenderly cares for them until the babies' real mother arrives to claim her offspring and reward the devoted husband and wife." But I didn't know any of this when we watched it . . . .
Sure enough, the childless couple takes care of the babies, protecting them from all dangers. A youth comes and offers them a valuable jewel if they will give him the babies for a wealthy childless noblewoman, but they refuse. The youth suddenly transforms into Mother Moonshower, who tells the couple she's come for the babies. She says they can't grow and thrive with the couple. She's brought them a human baby to care for instead. They happily allow her to take the rainbabies, mesmerized by their beautiful new baby.
After the story ended, Zoe said in a quizzical voice, "That's was kind of an adoption story. . . ."
I asked her how it was like adoption, and she said the Moonshower lady was like the birth mother. I agreed, and asked what she thought of her coming back for the babies. She shrugged and ducked her head, seemingly uncomfortable with the storyline.
I said, "I bet you know what I would do in that situation," and Maya piped up from the bathroom (!), "You're our mom forever! You wouldn't give us away!" Zoe jumped in immediately, "That's right!" I said that was exactly right, and that I would never give them away. When I became their mom, I said, I promised to love them and take care of them forever, and forever means forever. We talked more about the fact that adoption is permanent, amongst hugs and cuddles, because that was what Zoe and Maya needed to hear about. The storyline obviously touched on the fear of abandonment that many adoptees feel.
[We didn't talk about the part where Mother Moonshower says that the babies can't grow and thrive in the care of the adoptive parents. That could be a really deep and interesting discussion about what it takes for kids to grow and thrive, how removing a child from its home country/culture can make things difficult, etc., but that would work with kids older than mine, I think.]
I finally asked Zoe directly, "What would you want me to do if your birth parents found us?" Zoe said she wouldn't want to go with them, and climbed in my lap for another hug. I wasn't terribly surprised -- despite her interest in knowing about her birth parents, they're much more accessible as imaginary figures than as real people. Soon, though, she found her equalibrium and said more bravely, "I'd want to go with them for about a year, and then come back and stay with you forever." I asked her what she'd do for that year, and she said, "Get to know them and explore China!" I said I thought that was a good plan, that it was completely normal for her to want to know her birth parents, and wanting that didn't make our family any less permanent.
I never mind when books or movies raise adoption issues for us to discuss -- much better to discuss them than bury them. But I much prefer to be prepared ahead of time, and this one came out of left field! Though it was a good discussion, I'm not sure I'd recommend this book or video for young adopted kids. It sets up an impossible dichotomy -- either an adversarial relationship between birth parents and adoptive parents who want the same child, or an easy abandonment of the child by the adoptive parents who are offered something better, a different child.