Tonight, after a long day, I took my family to a Poetry Slam. It was inspiring. My daughter loved it. My teenaged son was silent. In the car, we clashed. He went off to bed, and I said, “Good night.”
What a week it has been! I began my week helping at an adoption conference, WISE Up.
I met some incredible young adoptees … all third graders. The conference allows the kids to talk about their adoptions and feelings in a safe place. It also gives kids the tools to respond to outsiders’ questions. They can walk away, say, “It’s private,” share something about their adoption story, or educate others about adoption and adoptees.
As you can guess, I personally advocate the last two. I understand the need to walk away if a question is offensive, and many of the younger kids just need reassurance that they have the power to control the situation. Unfortunately, when acting out some of these scenarios, more often than not, the children chose walking away. Some scenarios just involved something as simple as someone asking if they were adopted.
That had me thinking … is adoption a negative thing? Why do young children feel negatively about their adoptions? One girl mentioned that she felt jealous of those who asked her why she was adopted. She wanted what she perceived as the normalcy of a birth family. Looking back, I had some of the same feelings. They were often rooted in experiences in public or at school. In the comfort of my home, I would feel reassured that my home was indeed the place for me.
Perhaps what needs to happen is a better atmosphere in which kids can feel proud of their adoptions. As children, we look for a clan. As I have written, there are many of us.
In this conference, I introduced the kids to Kid President. His effervescence, his optimism, his generosity … they speak to us. We watched his pep talk, and then I explained to them that not only was he in third grade, but he was also an adoptee. One little boy excitedly said, “We just watched an adoptee on an invention of an adoptee!” (Of course, I had told them about Steve Jobs too.)
In my childhood, I wasn’t aware of other adoptees. It took close to 40 years for me to understand that my experience was not unique. Adoption seems better supported than it was in the 1960s and 70s.
But as Kid President says, “We can do gooder!”
After 44 years of puzzled looks and numerous questions about my family medical history, I have found my gang.
My gang is a group of people who are diverse. They are varied. Some are angry. Some are witty. Some are awesome … like this young man.
Some have revolutionized the lives of many like this man.
Some entertain us each week.
Some are less in the spotlight but even more inspirational. They have adopted their own children. They continue to care for other adoptees by leading groups of adoptive families. They travel and speak to adoptive families.
They foster a love of the arts in school children. They are the birth children of adoptees who have committed their lives to supporting future adoptees.
All have entered my life in the last two years. I am grateful for this enriching wave of people … this sea of adoptees.