Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 1

I am a very literal person, and for that reason, I need to start at the beginning of any story I tell.  I also tend to give many, many details that can be boring.  I have accepted the fact that I am sometimes a very boring person.  I am explaining this so you can understand that I do not know how many posts it will take to tell my complete adoption story.  Since we are probably at least one year and closer to two years away from completing our adoption story with an actual adoption, I figure I have at least 600 days to tell all the details leading up to it.  It probably won't take me 600 posts, but I'm not promising anything!

I have always wanted to adopt.  I don't remember not planning to adopt someday.  My first experience with adoption was knowing the little girl next door was adopted but not being able to talk to her about it because she didn't know.  As a 4 or 5 year old it fascinated me that someone told me a secret about someone that they didn't even know themselves.  In retrospect I think it was more a case of little pitchers have big ears (I do not understand that phrase, but I'm pretty sure it is the one my mom used!)  However, one belief that went along with this illicit knowledge was that you can only adopt children who look like you.  I was told (or overheard) that the reason the little girl next door was so much younger than her older brother was because they had to wait a long time to find a baby that needed a home that was white and healthy.   I make no judgment about the choices this family made, it just led me to believe that that was all that was allowed--that you had to wait for someone white if you were white (possibly given their agency and the times, 1970's, that was the only option available for them).

This leads me to where I usually start our adoption story when people ask.  When I was ten or eleven I won the grand prize for selling the most girl scout cookies in my area.  The prize was a cruise and tour of Tillicum and Blake Island (a Native American tourist destination).  My mom sent me with another leader whose family I had never met before.  In the family was a little girl my age and race.  We spent the day together, and then I went to their house to wait for my mom.  I don't remember ages and genders, but I do remember an older child came into the room, and she was Asian.  I asked who she was and the girl said, My sister.  I accepted that easily assuming she had an Asian dad (don't ask how I thought she avoided all Asian characteristics, I just accepted it.)   Then another older child came in, I think an African American boy (though I'm sure I would have said black at that time).

"Who is that?"
"My brother."
"Okay, than who is that?"  I asked about the girl again.
"My sister."
"And that is your brother?"  I was truly puzzled by this time.  I clearly didn't understand genetics, but the confusion felt deeper than even that.
Finally she said, "they're adopted."
"Oh!  Cool!"

Reading books about trans-racial adoption and adoption in general tells me I probably dealt that family a blow and possibly, hopefully, they had a conversation about the tactlessness of children and that families come in all different styles.  They may have even assumed my "Cool" was trying to repair damage or covering my embarrassment, but it wasn't.  I did not know it was rude and I had no embarrassment (I do now:))

I just thought, "Wow that is really, really cool.  I want a family with lots of colors, a rainbow family."

I had already thought adoption was neat (after all why produce my own kids when I could love any kid) and now I found out I didn't have to adopt only white kids, I could adopt anyone!   I realize that in some ways this sounds horrifying to those who fear celebrities are making adoption popular and fear that people are going into it for the status symbol and other scary reasons.  Let me assure you that I have never followed the trends, and still don't (I love clearance too much to follow trends properly), and there is a lot more that went into our decision when we actually started the paperwork 20 years later.  I just want you to understand how long ago God planted this seed for my next (I think) child in my heart.  I think I'll answer the "why China?" question in another post.


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