Adoption can be complicated, and, then, sometimes it's not. Since moving to Wichita, I have been thinking a lot about the implications of our adopted, trans-racial family. In St. Louis we were familiar with the particular places in which people would stare at us strangely, and the places in which no one even gave us a second glance. Now I am discovering these places here in Wichita.
Most days I don't think much about it, but, let's face it, adoption (particularly trans-racial adoption) brings with it delicate issues. When I give Little Man a haircut, I worry that I haven't done his hair justice, and I wonder, when we get our first negative comment in public, what I will say. When people ask, "Is that your son?", how do I respond so that he feels secure?
Last night we had a talk with our son about another delicate topic--birth parents. He has met them both, but was too young to remember. We have had other little conversations with him over the past year, but with his adoption we received pictures of his birth father and mother. The pictures aren't the best quality of photos, so I worked hard to doctor them up, trying to make them look as special as they actually are. Before bedtime, all three of us curled up on the couch to read My New Family (a great children's book about adoption, if you're looking for one), and to show him the pictures of his birth parents for the first time.
I was a little nervous. I mean, how do you share something so important and complicated with a three-year-old? We want to be as open as we can with him about his birth parents, help him honor them, and support any of his future questions, but we haven't been through this before, and feel like we're making up the words as we go along. Gratefully, the book gives a great outline to help tell your family's story. After we read the book and told his story he excitedly put the photo of his birth parents in a special place. I felt the weight of the conversation as I looked at their faces. He smiled and then turned and said, "Can you fix my tent now?" Such sweet and simple acceptance.
I know that these conversations will get more complicated as he grows older and he will wrestle more with his feelings, but for now, he accepts his history in the context of his simple faith in Mama and Daddy. And, one day, I pray he accepts the storms of life with a deeper faith that keeps him grounded in the knowledge of His heavenly Father.