Monday, April 21, 2014

adoption, siblings, perceptions

Interesting. 15 year old K had an assignment for her photography class. The students were asked to create a series of photos within a theme, for 2 themes. K decided that one of her themes would be adoption. Wanted to take some photos of her siblings and herself and the family and put them out there "what do you see?" kind of statement. She said she doesn't think about it {her siblings as adopted and of a different ethnicity} but she knows people have questions as soon as they see her in context with her family. So she set up some photos this weekend: the kids all just sitting together on the lawn. The kids divided into groups, born in the family in one group and adopted in another. And then she (K) drew a chalk drawing of a "mommy" and had Bitsy curl up in the mommy's belly. 

It is an interesting discussion and a bit heavy for a 15 year old. 
I wish I could be a fly on the wall tomorrow and listen to her class respond.

One of the things that I do not think people realize is how much having a family with adopted siblings affects the children born into the family. I don't think I thought about it much before we brought our oldest adoptee home.

I remember K saying when she was 9 or 10 years old that she was Korean in her heart. It was sweet and I thought it was sweet and didn't think much else. 

But then a few years ago I read an article penned by a sibling. A child born into her nuclear family and a sister to a child adopted into a family, transracially, meaning of a different race/ethnicity than the adoptive parents.

For reasons I don't fully know, people seem to find it easier or more acceptable to ask my bio kids about the adopted kids, than they do to ask the adopted kids straight out. So K and Tiger and M get asked "is that your real brother?" "where did you get him from?" We talk about answering people and educating them at the same time.

When we brought home Little Hawk, the youngest, I had a very interesting conversation with the social worker about "whose story." Little Hawk and Bitsy share a bio mom. That is why the agency called us to let us know that Little Hawk was available for adoption. His social worker asked if Bitsy understood the relationship. Bitsy was 4 and 1/2 when Little Hawk came home (they are 3 years apart in age) and I said we'd talked about it but she didn't seem very interested. And then the conversation turned to MLyons who was 6 I think. MLyons was working on understanding the relationships in the family and what that all meant and she was vocal about it. The social worker was concerned "that is not her story."

I disagree.

It is.

They all live together. Little Hawk coming home was everyone in this house's story. Because we are a family. And so it is our family's story. That means it is MLyons story too and at that age she was working through what it meant to have a little sister who was adopted and whose birth mother had given birth to another child who was MLyons' sibling. Because that is what happened.

When K was younger I was more inclined to listen to the social worker "that is for Dragon to tell" I would say. I now believe that was wrong. Dragon is K's brother. People ask K about him. Because they are siblings and growing up together they are each others stories. 

It is K's story too.

And as she closes in on being the age that Dragon's mother was when he was born she will have things to think about and work through. And in her AP Human Geography Class things like "buying people" and "human trafficking" come up and she has to work through how that does or does not reflect international adoption. 


troutbirder said...

Very interesting questions. I find it interesting and positive that you've learned and made up your own mind about "whose story it is." I've heard the social worker line from our DIL who happens to be a Dr. of Pysch. and "book learned expert" on rearing children adopted or otherwise. Our eldest grandchild was born (bio.) in Fargo, next a girl born in Ethiopia, next a boy born in Rwanda. Fortunately our son has a lot of common sense and makes it all work....:)

CailinMarie said...

this makes me smile. I've been at it about 16 years and read so very many books and tried so very many things and I am just starting to formulate my responses... and we will see if they change down the road! I have wondered where your grandchildren were born. I love your family photo. They are all beautiful kids.