Before my daughter was born, I had a lot of worries about adoption. Worries that were sometimes difficult for me to admit, because I feared they made me seem like a horrible person.
More than anything, I was worried that I wouldn’t love her. That missing out on those intimate 9 months of pregnancy bonding would make it so that we couldn’t connect.
Of course, the second she was in my arms, I was overwhelmed by a love I never could have predicted. She was mine. My everything. I couldn’t possibly have loved her more.
But with that love arrived a slew of other concerns. Most of these worries every parent experiences, but there were also plenty that are unique to adoption …
Will She Feel Connected to Her Heritage?
My daughter is Alaska Native. She has a Certificate of Indian Blood that designates her as Eskimo, otherwise known as Yupik. I, on the other hand, am about as Caucasian as one can get, and I know next to nothing about my own heritage. When asked about my ancestry, I tend to tell people I’m a mutt and hope they’ll leave it at that.
My girl has this rich cultural background that I do not share with her. I’ve read a lot about interracial and cross-cultural adoptions, and I think it is important to keep her connected to her heritage. I am thankful for the open adoption we have, because I know her biological family will be able to provide a link to that heritage that I cannot.
But, I also worry it isn’t enough. We see them maybe 2 or 3 times a year, for short visits that never last more than a few days. I worry that she should have role models and friends like her in her daily life – knowing at this stage in the game that it is my responsibility to provide that for her.
The problem is, I’m a bit of an introvert, and branching out of my own social circle doesn’t come naturally to me. I want to expose her to strong, successful women of her culture, and to find friends her age who share her background, but so far I have failed pretty miserably to that end.
Close friends of mine are looking into adoption now, and I have secretly been hoping they will get a native baby – solely so that my girl can grow up with a friend like her. So that she will have at least one more native person in her day-to-day life.
What If Other People Make Hurtful Comments?
I talk to my girl about adoption all the time, at an age appropriate level that she understands. I have every intention of continuing to do so as she grows older, and I don’t fear my ability to help her understand how our family came to be. But sometimes, I do fear the ignorant comments that others might make to her.
Because my daughter and I look nothing alike, it isn’t at all uncommon for strangers to approach me and ask if she is adopted. I never really mind, but on a few occasions the comments that follow have been cringe-worthy.
One particular incident involved a waitress who was from a country where adoption is extremely uncommon. She had a lot of questions that I knew came from a place of curiosity rather than cruelty, but they were still extremely uncomfortable to have posed in front of my little girl.
For instance, she point blank asked if my family was disappointed that I had adopted instead of having “one of my own.” And I looked at her in shock, because my family fell in love with my daughter as instantly as I did – there was never a question that she was my own.
As my daughter grows older and more capable of comprehending what is being said, I worry about how she will take the thoughtless remarks of others, and how I can teach her to respond in a thoughtful way, particularly when I still haven’t perfected my own responses just yet.
Will She Throw Her Adoption in My Face Some Day?
Kids say terrible things when they are angry. I still remember once yelling at my dad that I didn’t love him anymore and that I wished he would just leave. It’s normal, this lashing out that occurs in the throes of emotions kids aren’t yet fully capable of processing.
So I’m preparing myself for the day my little girl shouts out, “You’re not my real mommy,” in anger. I know that it won’t be about me, and that when she says it, she won’t really mean it.
But still, as prepared as I think I might be … I also know that day is going to crush me. I hope I have the strength to handle it with the same calm demeanor my dad once handled my vitriol, but damn if that isn’t going to hurt.
What Do I Say When She Asks About Her Siblings?
My little girl has four older siblings. She is the only one who was placed for adoption. And while I have had her since the day she was born, and loved her with my whole heart this entire time, I worry about the day she puts the pieces together and realizes that all her other siblings are still with her biological parents. The she is the only one who wasn’t kept.
I know and understand her other mommy’s reasons for letting her go, and I have all the respect in the world for the difficult choices she made. I know they were made out of love, and I will do everything in my power to help my girl understand that as well. But I also know what a difficult concept it might be for her to grasp. And my heart hurts for the day she asks why I have her, while all her siblings remained behind.
Adoption is complicated. And every situation is so unique. I would like to think I have all the answers, but I know that’s not the case. And I know that I will falter at times, that my girl and I will struggle.
The one thing we have going for us is that love I felt for her so strong on the first day we met; a love that has only grown exponentially with every day that has passed since. That love is the reminder I have that sometimes, my worries don’t pan out the way I thought they might. And that even if they do in some of these cases, we’ll be all right. Because my little girl has a mommy who loves her fiercely.
A mommy who will always make sure she feels that love, no matter what other challenges may be waiting for us down the line.More On