I found myself responding to this post on another blog, and realized that my response was becoming a post in itself, so I thought - why not?
However, I do not want anyone to think I am criticizing the original blog-writer. I am not. I am only sharing my take on it. I am sure it must be very different to adopt babies and much younger children. And a lot of that difference comes in a desire, perhaps, to protect your beloved child from ever feeling "different" or "set apart". Knowing that you love your adopted child just as powerfully, and from the same center as you love your biological children, you can't tolerate anyone seeming to not understand that...or the idea that your dear child's sense of being loved in the same way would ever be threatened.
But with older children it is very different. This was one of the big surprises I got when we first adopted ten-year-old Sergei. I guess I thought that his past would be left behind. Not his Russianness...but his family situation, those people, those places. But, unlike a baby or toddler with only subconcious memories, you can't erase true and conscious memories be they good or bad. Fortunately, Sergei's memories were nearly all good. And they intrigued me, and haunted, me and inspired me, and became somehow a part of my story, because he was mine and they were his..... I feel related to all those people who are related to him. I even love them, somehow, without knowing them.
Then, too....I suppose I am famously impervious to comments. I've certainly "stepped in it" myself once or twice, so want to be as forgiving as I hope people are to me! I go through life with a great fear of hurting anyone, so these gaffs torment me, anyway.
I do believe that when a huge thing happens to us, people want to say something, and if is something they haven't experienced personally, they don't know what... Undoubtedly some are secretly thinking we are crazy. Some are truly thinking we are "saintly" (it is this "take" on adoption that makes me squirm the most, frankly, as the joys of adoption are so great that I am constantly humbled by how lucky I am). Most are simply curious.
And I'd never want to discourage a question. They represent an openness to adoption that I want to encourage!
I have come to believe that it is a beautiful thing about adopting older children that everything really is already out in the open! I've found, to my surprise, that my adopted kids happily use the same language as everyone else. The kids are as interested in appearance as any stranger would be. Anastasia is happy to proclaim that she looks more like her adopted sister Lydia, than like her bio brother Ilya. So when my mom met Ilya and laughed "So finally a grandchild that looks like me!" we all thought that was pretty neat (Ilya and my mom have black hair unlike anyone else in the family, adopted or bio). I was recently stunned listening to a radio interview with a mom who has adopted a lot of inner city children as well as having a number of biological children that the kids talk about some being "chocolate" and some being "vanilla". I don't know why it initially bothered me. If kids can talk about the way they look in ways that have meaning for them - why not? Otherwise, we would be making race a "forbidden" subject and potentially making it seem shameful. So, too, my kids talk about their appearance. When people ask if Zhenya and Anastasia are twins, I just think it is cut - they look like twins. Only Anastasia is bent out of shape because she is a year older.
And the kids are not shy about talking about how much they "cost"...of course I remind them that their older siblings "cost" a lot too - in hospital bills! Actually, Aidan born at 26 weeks was by far the "most expensive" one of all.
When people say something like, "How could anyone leave her?" they are only echoing the thoughts I've had many and many a time. I share the fact that I pray for my children's biological parents all the time, because I know how horrible things must have been for them - and must be for them even now - to have lost having these most extraordinary people in their lives.
People who we know - from church, for example - who have not seen us for awhile, may well be surprised when we suddenly appear with five (or if Lydia is with us) six children. Of course they will ask if the kids are visitors or relatives. Some may have thought we were now empty-nesters or, remembering our adding Sergei, will not initially understand that they are "all" ours. I proudly tell them how blessed we are! By proclaiming our joy, I think we may encourage others to give some thought to older-child adoption. In fact, I know we have. And people may think it "happened so fast". Well, when I see those same people's children, who were 7 at our last meeting, and in high school now - well, I think they grew up pretty fast, too! I explain that each adoption took nine months! (The symbolism of this just delights me, frankly.)
The questions I get about the adoption process are pretty understandable....particularly when I read about people adopting from other countries, or domestically, and things are so very different. If we have not been around adoption before, we don't know the "rules" and we don't have the language. So the use of odd phrasing doesn't bother me; I'm just glad people ask. And people do wonder, most of all, perhaps about how we were matched with our specific children. I believe it was God's work, just as much as Aidan's and Lydia's conception was God's work. But from a practical point of view - people want to know. If they might consider adoption themselves, they really want to know! I was actually quite surprised to find out that not that long ago, families adopting from Russia, did indeed, just go in and "pick one out". (My friend picked out her sixteen year old daughter that way.) And though these days, in Russia, while another process is used, in many instances, when people have a chance to meet a number of children, it is possible to ask about the availability of a specific child, and then proceed to adopt him or her.
I don't mind people talking about adoption at all, even clumsily. My children can't be startled or hurt by it, or have things revealed that I wasn't yet ready to talk about. They know all about it - they're happy to talk about it! And, it has seemed to me that the more we talk about it, the more my children will understand that adoption is a glorious thing, and the more likely other people may be to consider this beautiful choice for themselves.