A family for only a few months, I took my toddler daughter with me to visit a friend, an older women, a faithful woman I loved and respected. While Lydia was mesmerized with the dust in the air visible in the sun light, my friend shielded her mouth and whispered:
Are you going to tell her she’s adopted?
I giggled a little. Wait, she’s serious. That wasn’t a joke. I whispered back:
How long do you think it will take before she finds out?”
We didn’t wait until the “correct developmental stage,” when children start to notice physical differences, etc. etc. There was never a day we didn’t talk about her story with her. Bedtime stories are most often adoption stories or China stories; we’ve got nearly every one ever printed. The most watched video on my phone is the adoption movie I made for her. She knows every word of the song I used for it and can narrate every scene. She has been to known to introduce herself with the big 3: (1) name, (2) age, and (3) “I was in another mommy’s belly in China then my mommy came to China and adopted me.”
When she asked to come with me to China on my recent adventure, I wasn’t all that surprised. It was heartwarming really. Oh, my sweet little girl. She wants to go back and visit her homeland. But, then she got me.
Come on. I wanna go. I’ve never been to China before!”
What? Did she just say that? My daughter who is in her second year of Chinese school? who wears her Chinese silks for Spring Festival? Who learned how to pronounce her Chinese name better than I can? After I have made great efforts to incorporate Chinese culture and artwork into our home and rehearsed and rerehearsed her story with her? Adoption is so commonly talked about around here, some likely think we’re slightly odd.
Oh, honey, remember? You’ve spent more time in China than the rest of us combined.
She smiled and off she went, trotting away like a horsey as she does and moving on to the next thing to get herself into. As she moved on, I took pause, realizing that those adoption conversations, the ones some may think should be a finite thing, are never complete. My daughter’s need for adoption talk will never expire. My responsibility as a mother to engage her in adoption talk is never a checked off item on my mental to-do list. I get that it may not be daily; adoption doesn’t need to be every evening’s dinner conversation. But, it’s constant, enduring through every season of her life, a conversation that never actually ends but is more of a run-on sentence like these words strung together with very little punctuation—on that day, two weeks ago, when she forgot she didn’t just travel to China but she was born and lived there and on another day, in another season, if she wishes she could forget.
Let me try to answer the question again.
Yes, we have told her she was adopted, we do tell her she was adopted, and we will tell her she was adopted. It’s her life, and I wanna be the one to walk with her in it.