Adoption Week

May 18, 2007

Adoption has been on the brain this week. It started earlier this week with a long conversation in the car. Noah had a ball under his shirt and he said "look I'm adopting a baby". When I explained that he meant to say he was "pregnant". He quickly returned to the topic of adoption by asking "what does adoption really mean?". We've had many conversations and read many books about adoption but this was the most intense conversation we have had about it. He wanted to know why the babies in the baby house didn't stay with their Taiwan mamas. And then he wanted to know more specifically about Camille's Taiwan mama. When I explained that she was sick and couldn't take care of Camille, he became very quiet and then stated, "is she going to take Camille back to Taiwan when she feels better? I don't want her to take Camille." I had to repeat several times that we were her forever family, but he still seemed worried about it.

In my head I have tried to prepare myself for the difficult conversations that we will have in the future with Camille about her adoption, her birth family, etc. But I stupidly hadn't thought too much about what to tell Noah about these issues. It had never occurred to me that he would worry about her being taken from us. Or that it would make me feel so sad to have to tell him about why Camille's family had made their difficult decision. We talk about adoption a lot because we spend a lot of time with other adoptive families. We talk about how families are created in lots of different ways and how some families look similar, but others look very different. At last month's adoption playgroup, I heard Noah and the other preschoolers pretending to take care of babies in the baby house. And in the car ride home, he asked us "how did we know which baby in the baby house was ours?". He is a bright, inquisitive, and sensitive little guy so it shouldn't surprise me that he thinks about these things. But our recent car talks have been pretty intense and I guess they are good preparation for future talks.

Today we went to court to re-adopt Camille in the State of Florida. It felt both surreal and good to testify in front of the judge that we would always take care of her. I think all parents should have to do this before leaving the hospital. When I was working in the foster care system, it always struck me that licenses and tests were needed for so many things in our society (fishing licenses, driving tests, etc.) but for a job as challenging as parenting there is no license or paperwork or training required. Going through the process today felt like a monumental step. Every other part of our adoption paperwork has just gone through Fed Ex. But today felt very official and I felt proud of our family. We had a very nice judge and a wonderful lawyer. Camille slept through the entire process. At the courthouse we met another family with two newly adopted sons from Ethiopia. It felt nice to see another family at the same stage as us.

And on Sunday we will have our final visit from our agency's social worker. Her report will be sent to our agency, the orphanage in Taiwan, and Camille's birth family. Most of the time I kind of forget that Camille is adopted. It just feels like she has always been in our family and yet this week has been a good reminder of the miraculous way she entered our lives and all of the emotions that come with, loss, wonder, gratitude. With Mother's Day earlier this week, Camille's birth mother has been in my thoughts a lot lately. Adoption is truly a wonderful way to build a family, but it isn't easy. The paperwork, the legal hoops, and the waiting are all challenging parts of the process, but I think the emotional issues of loss and identity are the most challenging.
Mom said...

Congratulations on the re-adoption today. I laughed when I saw Camille sound asleep. Adam was always able to sleep through anything!
For years people have been echoing your thoughts about preparation and training to be parents, but aside from a few high school programs I've heard about nothing ever gets instituted. What a shame.
I am impressed by Noah's questions. He has obviously given Camilles adoption a lot of thought. He is such a sweet boy!! Love and kisses to them both. We love you.

Amy, Ryan, Aidan & Lauren said...

Congratulations to your family. Sounds likes a very special day. We need to get started on the readoption stuff, too. Aidan (a little younger than Noah, and adopted domestically at birth) hasn't had too many adoption-related questions yet, but I know they will come. He did tell my mom the other day that "I was growing in Christina's tummy and I grew and grew and then popped out the esophagus!" (He is very into the human body right now.)

Ann said...

Congratulations guys!! Noah is such a smart and thoughtful little guy. I am constantly amazed by the things you tell us about what he says. Very insightful. Hopefully this side of him will be with him to adulthood. That's such a good quality. You seem to handle the questions very well too. I'm not so sure I would do as well.

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