Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Normalizing Adoption

Snugglebug and Mama
Photo by Mad Rooster Photography.
Snugglebug is now six years old, and tends to favor the dramatic. Mr. Wright says we've solved the Nature vs. Nurture question, right there -- despite being adopted, she's completely "inherited" my sense of melodrama.

Blame it on the coveted Cabbage Patch Kids dolls of my childhood, but I've always thought of adoption as completely normal and, in fact, a matter of course. Even as a pre-maternal teenager, my plan was always to "have two, and adopt at least one."

Regular readers will know my plan didn't work out exactly as intended, but the general principle was met when I had one, inherited four, and adopted two. So far.

Mr. Wright and I have always tried to impress upon Curlytop and Snugglebug that they're special, because they were adopted. They were "chosen," and are cherished because they were a gift, and part of God's plan for our family. We read books about adoption, celebrate National Adoption Day, make cakes for their adoption anniversary, and talk, talk, talk about how they came to be ours.

So when Snugglebug, in tears, woke me a few nights ago, the last thing I expected her to be upset about was the concept of adoption. Perhaps she'd had a bad dream, or she had a tummy ache, or maybe she was stressed out over the national budget... I think I mentioned her love of the dramatic, so her tears were no surprise. Whatever it was, my motherly instinct kicked in, prepared to fix the world so she (and I) could go back to sleep.

"What's the matter, Honey?" I asked, while making room under the covers for her.

"Baby Kade," she sniffled, climbing into bed next to me.

"Kade" is the seven-month old son of my cousin, Mistie Dawn, whose name I have always been jealous of because it's so much cooler than mine.

"What about him?"

"Why hasn't he been adopted yet? I'm so sad his family hasn't found him, yet," she said. "They must be looking for him. I'm going to miss him when he gets adopted!"

Oh, dear... How must the world appear to a six-year old, who lives with two parents but has two other parents? Add to that mind-bender six brothers and sisters who grew up under one roof, but all had other parents, as well, and kids who only have two parents begin to appear an anomaly.

It was midnight, for crying out loud, but I wanted to put the issue to bed (so to speak).

"You know, Sweetie, when a baby is born, sometimes the mommy and daddy don't have a place for the baby to live. Or enough food, or money for diapers and other things a baby needs. And sometimes, because they love their baby very much, the mommy and daddy will find another mommy and daddy to adopt the baby, so the baby can have a crib, and food, and toys, and lots and lots of extra love," I explained. "But other times, mommies and daddies have everything that baby needs, and they don't need help, so they can just love the baby a lot, by themselves. Cousin Mistie and Kade's daddy have everything he needs, so he's going to stay with them. Does that make sense?"

"Oh," Snugglebug said, cuddling closer to me under the covers. "Mom?"


"I'm glad you and Daddy adopted me."

You know, sometimes I look back on those three and a half years between placement and finalization of the girls' adoptions, and remember what a nightmare it was -- the paperwork (ad naseum), the fear that our state or their tribe would change their minds and pull "their" children from our home, the absolutely driving frustration that forced me to be an advocate, the sleepless nights, the endless questioning... "Are we doing the right thing?"... and know, with all my heart, I'd do it all again.

This is our "normal." Welcome to it.

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