22 January 2010
Each time, I stopped. And chose another topic. I realized that my role as a birth mother to a wonderful young man (now – wow) was only a small part of the story and to take his story, and that of his family, and put it here for all to see was something of a violation of his, and their, privacy.
But it isn’t just his or their or even my story. It’s also my daughter’s story now…and I get the feeling that soon, our open relationship with my son and his family is going to bloom in ways we never imagined when his mother first asked to meet me so many years ago.
You see, our daughter is at the stage where she talks. And asks. And, most importantly (well, sometimes most embarrassingly. OK. Most times.), remembers. So it was that she was pointing to all of the framed family photos a week ago and saying, “Dat?” or telling me who “dat” was. She pointed to a baby picture of my son and said, “Dat beebee?” I almost froze. Almost. Instead, I said, “That’s your brother, S__.” She nodded knowingly, “Oh! Brubba,” and moved on.
She doesn’t yet know what a brother is. With no siblings and no real friends nearby with siblings, those relationships probably aren’t established in her world. Mommy, Daddy, Oma, Opa, Nonna, Poppa, even Auntie and Uncle are all pretty clear to her (at least, the titles if not the relationship)…but the idea of siblings probably means nothing at this point. Nevertheless, it will soon. When that happens, I’ll have a lot of splainin’ to do.
So I did the only thing I could. I talked to my son’s mother the very next day. I asked her how to handle this as time goes on. I asked what she expected, what she and my son wanted from this. I asked, point blank, if we should foster a sibling relationship.
To her, it seemed to be a no brainer. “Yes!” was the answer. S__ tells people he has sisters, two. There is his sibling, another adoptee, but sister in every sense and spirit – and then there is our daughter, A. He doesn’t appear to differentiate, but he is a young man who takes things in stride. He has accepted his story in his life with a strange dignity, aplomb and even embraced it, where other kids or teens may not. (As an aside, his mother once told me that he is neither mine nor hers but a child of the world – and she’s right. Wise and intelligent beyond years or belief, he is somewhere beyond us).
Overnight, A went from having a brother out there, a brother she’s met as a baby but a brother more ethereal than real, to having a brother, concrete. We talked about summer get togethers, maybe sending A out to visit when she’s old enough to fly unaccompanied, for a few weeks a year. We also talked about the potential for S__ to attend college back east, where he would be closer and could be more involved.
Now, I will brace for the inevitable questions, the “why did you give him up?” and probably some ugly moments as A begins to learn that her story, like her brothers, is at once nothing special but is also unique to what most of her peers experience.
Adoption is a heady issue. There are twenty five thousand and two things that I could write on this topic alone – both my opinion and my experience. I am adopted too, so my experience, my story, is also nothing special, but unique to my friends and peers in that respect. Of course, I’m all grown up (no comments from the peanut gallery please!) so my peers are likely to be more accepting of my story. A’s may not be for a while.
However this plays out, I went home after my workday and my conversation with S__’s mother with a lighter heart. A has a “brubba” and somehow, that means the world to me.