Monday, November 9, 2015

How big of a part of my identity will this become?

     I've spent the better part of about 3 hours today reading through another adoptive family's blog and Facebook page out of sheer fascination by their story. Going through this process-- this strange, amazing, surreal process-- is somehow eased by reading the stories of others who have walked the same path before you. I know that is why this blog has gotten somewhat popular. It isn't because our story is particularly captivating in the big scheme of things. It isn't because I am an amazingly talented writer. It isn't because I have any clue what I am doing here! It is because this can feel like a lonely path. It is because when you keep getting invitations to baby showers and see baby bump pictures everywhere, it helps to know that there really are other people who are growing their family through adoption. The happy stories give you hope. The sad stories give you a reality check. The ongoing stories give you a feeling of companionship, which is wildly bizarre given that you will likely never be "companions" with that other family in real life.

     As I was blog/Facebook stalking this other family, whose story is about two years down the road from where ours is, I was amazed by the opportunities that were opened up for this Amom by being totally honest and transparent during her adoption process. She has become a spokesperson for several adoption groups. She is an advocate for birthmother rights and ethical adoption. She has thousands upon thousands of followers who know her and her kids' names and stories. And that is the point that got me thinking about what my reflection on this adoption process will look like 3, 5, 10 years down the road. How significant will it be that Baby Girl joined our family through adoption? Can I be an advocate for ethical adoption while respecting her autonomy to decide for herself how important she wants "adopted" to be as one of her labels and identity?
     One of the reasons that Anne chose us was because she and I look alike. We would never be assumed to be sisters, but there are many similarities in our coloring, build, and facial features. She told me that she wanted Baby Girl to have the freedom to decide whether or not she wanted her friends and classmates to know that she was adopted. Someone who is very dear to her was adopted by a family member and always had that freedom, and that is her desire for her child. She never wanted her child to be in a position where she was forced to wear her adoption like a label, where someone would look at her and look at me and know that we obviously did not share genes. I want to respect that desire. If Baby Girl wants to be one of those children/teenagers that I mentioned in one of my research summaries who doesn't want to talk about the adoption often-- doesn't want it as one of her labels and doesn't want her social circle to know that part of her story-- I want to respect that desire. I've known two people who were adopted who did not share that part of their identity widely, and I've heard both make statements along the line that "I was lucky enough to be adopted by parents who look like me..."
    Please know that I am not criticizing transracial adoption. I do not think there is anything superior or right or better about the fact that our daughter will likely look as though we are genetically related. I'm just thinking out loud (er, on paper?) as I try to navigate all of the details about the specific situation we have entered into.
     To get back to the question I have been asking myself, how big a part of my identity will "I adopted a child" become? I would love to be more "out there": to be more active with social media, to be more transparent about who we are and what we do, to go to adoption conferences, to be one of the people who actively seeks to be involved in the world of adoption to advocate for ethical and considerate treatment of all members of the triad. But, if "adoptive mom" becomes one of my primary labels, if adoption-related activities become a big part of who I am and what I do, I feel like I take away some of my child's autonomy to decide for herself how important she wants the adoption to be to her identity.
     I was informally offered a job in the adoption world. Because of my background in Family Studies, my doctorate and the activities that were a part of my training for that degree, and now my personal experience in this realm, I was told by an agency that I would make a great adoption counselor and that they would love to have me if I was ever interested. I laughed with my husband about it, talked about how crazy it would be if this experience turned into a career shift, and went on. But the thought of "What would that look like? Wouldn't I love to do that?" has kept coming back. And yes, I do think that I would love to do that. But I don't think I would ever be comfortable having adoption as a large part of my identity unless I knew Baby Girl wanted it to be a large part of hers.
      I will never discourage her from embracing that part of her identity, but I also will not force it upon her. So I am cautious. I can't let this be one of my primary descriptors until I know she wants it as one of hers. And, if she never does, this will be a closed chapter of my life.
    And, either way, I am at peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment