I got a bit ferklempt watching the recent New York Times video of a May Lee Wong, a NYC principal who just adopted a little girl from Ethiopia after giving birth to three boys. Maybe it was the fact that the little girl, Mebrat, was thought to be three-years-old when she came to the Wong family but was, in fact, a malnourished six-year-old.
More likely? The fact that a family has adopted after having children “of their own.”
Because there is still a stigma attached to mixing families of biological and adopted children. There is the inference that the older, biologically-related children will feel cast aside by their parents’ decision to adopt. The idea that an adopted child won’t feel they can make a home in a family where they are the only ones who don’t have a blood connection.
Raised in a family with a mix of biologically-related and adoption-related aunts and uncles, it’s an argument I’m familiar with – and one I can tell you holds no water. My family is my family. Just the way mixed families of steps and halves mix together, so do the adopted and the biological.
The criticism is generally lobbed at parents as they make their decisions to adopt, but at the heart they are pointed at kids – that the kids won’t adapt. You can’t equate the rigidity of adults with children. Because kids are more accepting of change and of other people than adults, even the most liberal-minded adult. There’s also a sense of equality among kids that is inherent – something we all too often lose as we grow up and begin to experience slights both real and imagined at work and in the grocery store. For kids, life starts out an equal playing field – it’s up to adults to keep it that way.
May Lee Wong’s attitude toward adopting Mebrat sounds just right: “It’s not that I didn’t think my family was complete with my three boys, I knew that we had room for one more.”
Image: NY Times