But who is your REAL mom ??!!!!

“ If you look up requirement of adoption (like as if it were a job) STRENGTH would be required. The strength to give and the strength to receive. The strength to know that even though there is heartbreak there is HOPE.” – Birth Mother.

“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.” – An adoptive mother.

It was a beautiful spring day and I was excited to pick up my daughter from school. She had just started to ride her bike to and from school and I enjoyed riding with her.

In the short 15 minute return back home, I would get a rapid download of her entire 450 minutes at school! It was something I looked forward to because it was extremely entertaining and this was just 2nd grade! I knew this phase of sharing wasn’t going to last long so I savored every second of the chatter. It was always about someone – A teacher who wore red high heels – How can she walk with those? Why did she dress so fancy for school? A substitute teacher that ate Doritos – why is he eating junk food? What kind of example was he setting for his students? Her Mandarin teacher who wouldn’t let her tie her shoelace – What kind of rule was that? Did she want her students to trip and fall? Can one not listen without looking at the teacher? The girl who cheated at tetherball and rolled her eyes, the boys who broke every rule at Four Square, the quiet child with glasses that nobody played with… It was a non-stop burst of emotions and most of it was highly amusing to me!

The bell rings and slowly but surely I see V saunter her way towards her bike. She is happy to see me, but I instantly notice that her expression seems different from her normal ebullient mood. We ride back home as usual, but she is unusually quiet. I knew something was up, but remained silent. Once we got home, she just went into her room and stayed there for a while. I thought it would pass and actually forgot about her silence. An hour later she comes to me, her face distraught. She mutters through the lump in her throat, with great difficulty, “My friends are telling me that you are not my REAL mom!”

Now sobbing “I tried telling them you are my REAL mom even though I didn’t come out of your tummy! They did not listen and kept asking ‘But who is your REAL mom ?!”

And now loudly bawling and her words get swallowed by her own cries “They are so mean!”

V had told her friends a week before that she was adopted. Her friends were beginning to ask questions. I had to acknowledge V’s emotions first.

“Yes, what did they mean? I AM your real mom! Mrs. Rao wasn’t fake. She had real skin, bones, heart, tears. She wasn’t a robot or made out of plastic!”

V starts to calm down and even finds humor in what I say.  She laughs and says, “Maybe I should tell them that!”

V’s friends were asking innocent questions out of curiosity. They were really asking V about her birth mom. But the language they were using sounded hurtful to her. Once V calmed down, I asked her if I should talk about adoption to her class. She seemed alright with the idea, so I approached her teacher. I suggested that I read a book on adoption during story time and  allow them to ask questions. I gave the parents a heads up and even sent them a short article on how to answer questions their children might ask at home later. The families were very supportive and the kids were the sweetest. They were fascinated by V’s adoption story and found it really funny that she did not have a last name at the orphanage! I took the opportunity to introduce and explain a few terms like birth parents and  biological parents. We talked about who mom and dad are – people who you live with and take care of you and love you every single day. I remember observing V. She was listening to them ask questions and was able to engage and answer proudly and confidently.

I hope I taught her to be an understanding, confident girl who can talk about her adoption openly.



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