Most other people are at least mildly suspicious about how our children came to be ours when they see us together. Our family has a diversity of appearance that is unexpected by people who are meeting us for the first time. Some curious people come right up and ask us if the kids are adopted and others stare from afar and wonder. I'm not sure which is best. To constantly discuss the adoption of our kids in front of them makes them feel self-conscious and to have people gawking isn't much better.
At any rate, we have grown used to questions and stares over the years and though I don't know what might be the best way to teach others to be kind and curious -- besides just loving us for how we are, even if you don't know the how and why -- it has given us many opportunities to help educate others about adoption.
God started preparing my heart for adoption from the time I was a young girl. Maybe it was friends of the family (who had themselves adopted) that inspired me or maybe God just knew what was coming for me and therefore planted a seed that would grow and bloom over time. Or both. Anyway, it seems I always wanted to adopt and was happy when we saw the chance to do so.
In fact, when we told our families that C and I had decided to adopt after discovering that we could not conceive in the traditional sense, I expected shock and awe from everyone and hoped for gradual acceptance. I think it was my sisters who summed up the reaction to our announcement best and it went something like this ... "Duh." I'd been talking about the idea for years. Nobody was shocked and though not everyone in the extended family was gungho on the idea at first, they all came around and now show our children the unconditional love that kids need to know.
So among the books about how to raise children, we read many books about adoption. Maybe I'll share some of my favorites with you in future posts. But this time, I wanted to share with you an adoption book that has been very dear to our family.
This book, we have read with our children -- individually and as a group. Before the kids were homeschooled, two of them brought the book for show-and-tell to their preschool/kindergarten classes. We have shared the book with family friends whose children were not adopted, but who want to better understand our children's circumstances. If you haven't gathered it by this point, we love this book.
It is titled The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story, by Anne Braff Brodzinsky. The story tells of a young mother bird who has no "husband" or male partner around and through her struggles to take care of her baby bird on her own through storms and dangerous situations, she realizes that she may not be enough. Because of her love for her child, she allows another bird couple to adopt her baby.
Now, while all birthparents aren't as cooperative as the mother bird in real life (especially when discussing state adoptions through foster care), the story provides a very clear understanding about the parties involved in adoption and why it can be out of incredible love for the child that he or she is not being raised by his or her birthparent, but by adoptive parents -- who also have incredible love for the child.
I realize that the book does not represent birthfathers and it does not cover every circumstance of a child's beginnings, but even with our children's varied beginnings, this book has been enough for them. Our teenager asks more difficult questions now that can no longer be answered in the tale of the Mulberry Bird, but I believe the story has provided a good base for her to draw from in her understanding. It has given her the confidence to ask some of the difficult questions without fear of our rejection.
Whether you have experience in or a heart for adoption, whether you know an adoptive family or even if you just enjoy a fairly easy read with beautiful illustrations, I recommend this book to you and your children.
A word of warning, though: if you have a heart, there will be tears. After dozens of readings, I still cry from midway through the story until the end (and beyond). But maybe I'm just sappy like that. Ha.