Something occurred to me while reading a new blog the other day: that that loudest and oftentimes most vehement voices crying to be acknowledged as "real parents" are those who are considering adoption, have just begun the process, or are brand new to a-parenting.
Don't misunderstand - I'm not saying that all new and prospective a-parents focus on this - the a-parents I've come to know online are proof of that. But when I hear a voice demanding to be "real," it most often comes from someone with little concrete a-parenting experience. Conversely, many of the wisest voices, those most willing to recognize and support the complexity and paradox of adoption, come from those who have at least a few, and sometimes many, years of a-parent experience behind them.
This doesn't surprise me, but it does make me sad. Vehemence is certainly an impediment to dialog, but more importantly it can close one's eys and ears, and direct one's focus selfishly inward. I've said before that a-parents aren't the stars of this show, yet paradoxically we hold the power. That makes it all the more important for us to spend the bulk of our time listening and trying to understand, rather than forcing our opinions through adamant declarations.
The light at the end of this tunnel is that we a-parents can evolve. I can remember thinking way back at the beginning of my adoption journey, probably saying out loud, too, how adopting from Korea would remove the complication of having another family in our lives. And I remember with crystal clarity the moment I knew better - that was the moment our first child, our now 18-year-old son, was placed in our arms at National Airport.
I remember many things about that moment - the overwhelming presence of our son's mother; the total deflation of the fear I had previously felt of her and our son's Korean family; the sudden recognition that the only connection I had to her, apart from her son, was a name covered over in white-out on a piece of paper. And I remember the panic that followed - the realization that to find her would be incredibly difficult, and that making that connection and bringing her and her son back together might never happen. Although my teen children both now call the shots on their searches and reunions, I still have moments of that same panic, and it's just as overwhelming as it was back then.
That moment of enlightenment at the airport was just the beginning, though. Over the eighteen years since our son arrived, there have been many more such moments - none as emotional, but many that better illuminated the injustices that exist in adoption today. Every one of those moments has chipped away at my need to declare my "real mother" status; every one has brought me closer to understanding how unnecessary it is to even think about that. I'm here, I'm a presence in two amazing lives, and that's enough. And should the reunions and relationships I've dreamed of for my children ever become reality, it will be so easy to share my love for them with their families in Korea - I'm doing that even now.
Funny how our evolution from who we were to who we are defuses our vehemence and redirects our passion from ourselves to those who matter most to us. It's a shame it takes so long, though; how much better for our children if we had the wisdom of years with us at the start.