Monday, July 18, 2011

"Adoption? What does Adoption Mean?"

Said the teenage girl to me as wee one and I waited to board our flight.

Her head tilted to one side with a quizzical look on her face.

Back up a few moments to where this conversation began.

Ade and I had been in Vancouver to visit my mom, family and some friends.

We were sitting in the boarding lounge waiting for pre-boarding to begin for our flight home.

I noticed a young, teenaged girl watching us and smiling.

Eventually she made her way over to us and stood right beside me.

I'm talking Jerry Seinfeld "Close Talker" close.

Ade was sitting on my lap facing me and I was swinging him backwards over my legs so he was looking upside down at the floor. A game he loves.

As I would swing him up, she would try to touch his head.

I would swing him back down to avoid her touching him.

Finally, I just held him close to me and sort of turned away so she couldn't touch him.

She left.

5 minutes later...she came back.

Curiosity got the better of her I guess.

She kept saying "He's so cute!" over and over again.

She touched his hair and whispered "So curly."

Finally she got up the nerve to talk to me.

"Where is his mom?" she asked.

"I'm his mom." I said.

"Where is his dad?", she quizzed further.

Quietly I said, "His dad is at home." guessing where this was going.

"Is his dad African?", she pressed.

"No, he isn't." I said as nicely as I could.

Insert the weirdest look someone has ever given me. In retrospect, I think she was trying to comprehend how 2 Caucasian people could have a Black child.

"Where is he from?" she kept on.

"Ethiopia." I answered.

"How come you have him?" she boldly asked.

At this point there are a group of people close enough to hear our conversation. She is a young girl. I don't want to be rude to her. But now all the prickly ears listening are making me feel like we are in a microscope being carefully inspected.

"We adopted him." I proudly answered. "Where are you from?" I queried her back.

"China.", she pauses for a moment. "Adoption? What is adoption?"

Her question dumbfounded me. For a couple of reasons.

1. She's from China. Which has one of the largest adoption programs in the world. And she doesn't know what adoption means.

I have been to China and it only took me a moment to factor in that the government wouldn't be broadcasting it to the public.

2. I didn't know how to answer her. That's right. I was stumped. I know what adoption means but how do you explain to someone on the spot like that. Someone whose English was good but not good enough to understand fully what I was saying.

So I said, " Adoption is where a child is born to someone but raised by someone else."

"This means he is our son." I said.

She didn't seem to understand or want to push further. It might also be that we were called to board our flight or her mother finally called her over. I can't remember.

What out conversation left me with was a question unanswered.

What does adoption mean? Because I think this is what bugs me when people ask me if our son is adopted and we tell them yes and then they ask where his parents are.

It bugs me because I just told you he is adopted which means we are his parents.

Merriam-Webster's say it is "the act or process of adopting someone or something: such as a : the act or process of adopting a child."

That sounds cold and calculated. Unfeeling and without love or joy attached to its meaning.

And no where in there does it talk about parenting.

To me......

Adoption means love!

And parenting.

It means sad times mixed in with good times.

Hardships and uncertainty.

Dreams finally come true.

Giggles and guffaws!!

Diaper changes, midnight soothing of a nightmare, eating breakfast before 8.

Delightment when a task that has eluded is accomplished like stacking blocks, riding a trike or the brushing of teeth.

Adoption is growth. From 2 people to 3, inches on the wall, shoe sizes doubled and finally being able to reach the kitchen counter top for whatever goodies await.

Knees scraped and owies kissed and great, big family hugs to end the day.

To me adoption encompasses all these things and so much more....

To me adoption means....


One Papa, one mama, one wee one!


Connie said...

Adoption. You've described it perfectly! I've experienced too where people ask me where his parents are, right after I've told them we adopted him. It's irritating... we don't get acknowledged as parents, and they're being far too nosy by assuming it's their right to know where the birth parents are. It is hard to know how to answer some questions on the spot like that. It's a learning process and sometimes it feels like we never get the answer right. But you did good!

Melissa said...

Aw, what a sweet post :)

It's so hard to believe that adoption is an unfamiliar concept to anyone who has reached their teenage years. The world is such a funny place!

The Warren Family said...

great post. I really enjoyed your definition, I think my eyes are a bit teary!

Hi from Ruth! said...

Great post!


darci said...

what a great post, and great family picture! :)

Janna said...

What a great post, Rana! I only hope that, one day, I'll be able to articulate what is means to adopt as well as you have here.

Natalie and Chris said...

I think you said it perfectly. A family full of love and adventures.

Sarah said...

Awesome post Rana! I love the photo too. Ade is such a cutie.

Anonymous said...

I live in Italy and when I got the question, Is his father black, I replied no Calabrese (would be like replying he's a Quebecer). When I was asked : Where is his father from, I replied "Calabria", the province my husband was born in. :-). At the playground a girl asked me why I was pink and my son was black, I told her because he as born in Africa and I was born in Canada.

Adoption also means having to explain to your child while his first family was unable to care for him....and now with the famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, it's hard...really hard...

Anna from Turin

Lisa said...

Pure poetry!

Brendan and Mary said...

Love it! And the family picture is ridiculously fantastic!!!