As a family impacted by adoption, we wanted to share our open adoption story for National Adoption Month. We thought it would be fun to capture our 6-year-old daughter's thoughts this year, and to interview our birth mother as well.
Who better to tell you about adoption than the adoptee and birth mother?
Open adoption is all our family has ever known. Even when Mike and I signed up to adopt, we desired some level of openness with the birth family. Mae's adoption story was a whirlwind, and the way it happened, open adoption was built-in. But we were so thankful.
When we adopted our daughter, we met with her birth mom, and after that night, we exchanged phone numbers and emails. Our birth mother has always had my contact information, and I've sent her photos and updates directly throughout Mae's life. We've also maintained contact with our birth mom's family, which has made open adoption even wider. We figure that it's more people to love on our daughter. We're thankful for the direct contact.
What our kid thinks
Interviewing my daughter about being adopted was quite the experience. I've never tried to get answers from someone so wiggly. I might have bribed with candy and computer time. Might.
Although she's always known she's adopted, she has started to think and talk more about her adoption at age six. I don't know if it's natural curiosity, or the fact she's now in school and meeting other kids with families that are different from hers. But it's fun to watch her put the pieces of her story together. We want to be as open as we can.
Adoption questions at age 6
How can we tell Mae is starting to think about adoption differently?
- She notices other mommies and pregnant bellies.
- She's trying to understand breast feeding (of course it had to be very openly and loudly at the public zoo).
- She's explained to her kindergarten class that she has two moms.
Adoption is clearly on her mind and it shows through her drawings. It's not uncommon for her to mention her birth mom's name at the end of a long prayer or play "pretend" with her former first and/or last name. She often makes double drawings and gifts, one for me and one for her birth mom.
Adoptee's thoughts on open adoption
I wanted to know our daughter's thoughts on being adopted and how she saw the world. It's a way to capture time - how does she feel about this at age 6? Will it change? There's only one way to find out! I interviewed her! Here's what she said.
Q. How do you feel about being adopted?
I'm embarrassed. People will hear about me and want to be like me. I don't like it. But I'm happy too. I like being adopted.
Q. What's the best thing about being adopted?
More than one people love me.
Q. What's hard about being adopted?
Barely nothing. Everything is not hard. There's never been a time it's been hard. But I wanted just one mommy when I was a baby. Having two mommies is a lot.
Q. What does it feel like to have two mommies?
Happy because I get lots of toys.
Q. Are you glad you know your birth mom?
Yeah. She's a nice lady. I like that I get to see her.
Q. What's your favorite memory with your birth mom?
Going to the inflatable park and my cousin was there too. I liked jumping.
Q. Do you think other people should adopt kids?
Adopt kids all day long. It will make the kids happy and parents happy.
Q. If there's a kid who feels sad about being adopted, what would you say to make them feel better?
Getting adopted is really fun. You get lots of presents and you might love presents. They [the birth family] will get to know you good if they get to be with you a lot.
Q. Does being adopted make you feel special?
No. I feel special when I get to buy a costume or go to T-Rex Restaurant.
Q. What's the last thing you want to share?
I like stuffed toys because they're so cute. And Barbies.
Adoption doesn't make me special
Out of the mouth of babes, huh?
While some of her answers were expected, I was surprised when she said adoption isn't what makes her feel special (considering that's the message we've told her all her life!).
To our 6-year-old daughter, adoption is normal. Open adoption is normal. What makes her feel special is the same thing that makes any kid feel special: fun times, surprises and presents.
While adoption makes her different, it doesn't define her and I love how she clearly articulated this at age six. I hope it sticks all her life!