white wine on the front balcony; unexpected May long weekend sunshine; late-night trampolining; a tire swing in the evening light; mastering the monkey bars; riding downhill; little friends with butterflies, a kaleidoscopic array of rhododendrons; a new Canucks hat.
“Mom! “I not saying Stupidhead!” (repeat)
“Mom! “You say Idiot; Idiot not nice.” (repeat)
“Mom! He say, Shut up! Shut up not nice.” (repeat)
“Mom I can say acker?” Me: “Um … OK.” [Starts banging his plastic superheroes together like they are fighting].” “You acker! No! You acker!”
Me: “Hey Theo. Who’s your mama?”
Theo: “Daddy is.”
* * *
Me: “Theo, who’s my baby?”
Life and death
“Mom… I want to go outside to kill ants.”
“Mom … it’s a snail … I can kill it?”
“Mom. That man [points at severely disabled man at the pool], he ALIVE! “
(The man’s careworker says hello to us every week, which spurs Theo on to stare, point and comment despite our conversations about pointing and feelings.)
“Mom? You bring a Popsicle to the pool so I can eat it after swimming?”
Two Sikh men on a bench
The two seated men have identical turbans, grey beards and immaculate curled moustaches.
Theo starting at them and excitedly pointing back and forth: “THEY THE SAME!”
What weird/awkward/silly things have your kids said recently?
I see her approach. She’s jogging. We recognize each other. We chat about running. I introduce Theo. She looks at him smiling, and then the gushing starts:
“Oh I love your hair! My hair is so straight. Look at it! Yours is so curly. You are so lucky! Can I put your hair on my head?”
Theo looks at her perplexed and slightly anxious.
Then it comes. So fast.
The hand moves in like a jetliner looking for a landing strip.
While in motion, her goal mere fingertips away, she asks him rhetorically, “Can I touch your hair?”
Theo recoils ducking, moving sideways and then backwards as her hand nimbly reaches its target.
Or rather, off the bookshelf and in my hand.
I’m in the middle of reading Lori Holden’s book: The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption, which I open up every chance I get.
What makes Lori’s book so interesting is her perspective on openness, which she sees as a way to heal the split between biography (our upbringing) and biology.
One point that she makes that resonated with me is that all adopted kids need their parents to behave in an “open way” towards their children’s birthparents, whether known or not. It doesn’t matter if your kids have no knowledge of their birth-history, a closed adoption, limited contact, an occasional in-person relationship, a touch-and-go relationship, or a roast beef on Sundays kind of relationship, as adoptive parents, we need to keep the story of our children’s origins alive in our children’s hearts and minds.
Lori gives a great example of a mom who writes to her son’s birthmother despite the fact that she hasn’t heard anything back for many years. She’s doing it for her son. And her son in an overheard moment tells a friend how his mom always writes to his birthmom anyway, and it’s clear that it means a lot to him. The mother keeps all the letters and photos tucked away as a journal of her son’s life.
This all digs into another deep (and rather obvious) fact about adoption: our kids came from someone else, and that’s where their story begins – whether we know the details or not. So if a child was adopted from an orphange or a hospital or through foster care, prior to that “first meeting point” was a woman and a man and a baby. This part of the story may be a mystery, and the facts may never be known but it’s still something we need to acknowledge and honour.
Even for us, in a situation where the birthfamily is known –but only really seen online for now– I need to constantly remind Theo of who they are and why they’re important.
I know an adoptive mom whose kids, adopted from Africa, write notes to their birthmoms and tie them to helium balloons and let them go on Mother’s Day. That pretty much says it all.
Do you talk to your kids about their birthparents regularly regardless of your situation? Is this just all a bit much?
PS: I’m trying to blog daily as a creative undertaking so feel free to unsubscribe me! I won’t be insulted.
I am nostalgic for the way you:
skip when you walk down the street.
jump off every available boulder, fence, rock wall, chair or log.
laugh hysterically when you see a movie or TV pratfall.
go ballistic with excitement when you see your friends.
are game for anything.
dunk yourself in the ocean just because.
enjoy a popsicle like it’s one of the universe’s great gifts.
always answer “better” when I ask how you’re swollen eye is doing.
approach everyone with a big smile, eager and willing to chat.
say something inadvertently funny everyday.
are so big but still so small.
Does parenting make you nostalgic ahead of schedule?
Mother’s Day means brunch, flowers, handmade crafts, or even fancy presents but lots of people find Mother’s Day something to be silently endured. Every Mother’s Day, I think of:
- Those, young or old, whose mothers passed away suddenly or with warning, recently or in the distant past.
- Mothers who made the emotional decision to place a child for adoption.
- Adoptees who may feel the split between nature and nurture more acutely on this day.
- Children, grown or otherwise, who fumbled to make that special craft in school but didn’t feel the love because their mothers weren’t able to be there for them due to mental illness, substance abuse or otherwise.
- Foster children who know their biological mothers didn’t do the best possible job of mothering but still miss them.
- Women struggling with infertility.
- Women who’ve lost children through miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Mother’s whose children died before them.
- Mothers who adopted the love of their lives, and know that another mother lives without him.
To you, I offer a bouquet.
Special read for adoptive mothers -> “Dear moms of adoptive children”