Monday, October 29, 2007

Is it the Loneliest Number since the number one?

Many transracial adoptees have said that one thing their parents could have done for them was to adopt again, a person of the same race, able to share the experiences of being adopted and being a person of color in an otherwise white family.

Many thoughtful adoptive parents have said that if they knew what they know now when they adopted, they would have been far more ambivalent about adoption (whether domestic or international, newborn or older child).

Many people have told me that one is fun, two is ten, now that I have two (but as I've said before, they didn't tell me BEFORE). They say (these parents of more than two) that we would be crazy to have three. And that they love their third child madly.

One of my best friends, a black woman raised by her white mother, felt strongly that Miss I should not be the only black person in her household. The same friend now says that Miss I might just be better off the baby, even if that means she'd be the only black person in the fam. She wonders if the Divine Miss I, a diva, would ever thank us for bringing a competitor home.

Adoption raises so many tough questions from the ethical to the practical, and the ones that are weighing on us heavily right now involve the imaginary A. What's more important -- Sharing the experience of being a transracial adoptee or avoiding dethronement? Is it personality dependent? Would a third sibling kill her or mellow her out just a little bit? Would she put a third sibling down the laundry chute? Should a kid really dictate her family's construction? We did consider ds's personality and needs very seriously when we chose to adopt and to adopt a toddler, but this is different: You, Miss I, are the reason we didn't have any more children. What does that say? But every family eventually has a baby, a child who made them sure they couldn't do it again.

And of course there is always the issue of generating demand, but a young baby? We don't feel Miss I could handle similar attachment difficulties to the ones we faced with her. If another child were to be glued to my hip, to be screaming for fifty minutes, she'd regress, whether this happened next year or the year after or . . . It'd be very destabilizing for her to experience someone else's grief in that way. But we also know we don't want to participate in increasing the demand (Ethiopia's wait times are stretching out even as the government approves more and more agencies for work there).

Little Bun's solution: A four year old boy from Vietnam -- fun for him, no competition for Miss I. Even he is aware of her divine-ness and he'd never have to "go through the terrible twos" again. He's so wise (though we didn't tell him that a four year old boy would also have extraordinary grief and there's no way of predicting what that would look like).

Our plan for the moment: Keep watching waiting child lists, think about finishing a homestudy update just incase, be prepared to remain a family of four or bring home a waiting child, and realize that whatever we do our children will tell us when they are grown that we've kind of screwed them up.

Our plan for the future: Realize that our plans always change.


Paula O. said...

I really appreciate the honesty of this post.

I was the oldest of 3 children; I am adopted and my brothers are my parents biological children. There were definitely inherent privileges and a certain level of recognition that I believed I received as only girl as well as the oldest child in the family.

I do remember as a child, thinking how much more difficult it might have been navigating my way through life being a middle child and/or having a sister who was my parent's biological daughter. Giving serious consideration and validity to those thoughts has definitely influenced my view about family dynamics, especially how it relates to our son, who is adopted.

But of course it's impossible to know, impossible to predict how each relationship will ultimately affect each child, each parent. I know of siblings (both of whom are adopted from Korea) who are essentially estranged and I know of sisters (one who is adopted, one who is not) who are the best of friends. One just never knows.

But I still think it's a good thing that these kinds of conversations are happening.

Lola said...

hmmm... i really think the solution to this is to have like 5-6 kids.

abebech said...

Thanks, Paula, for your thoughtfulness as always. Your son AND daughter have a fabulous resource in you for working out the complexities of family dynamics and adoption.

Lola, ha ha ha ha, ummmm, no.

Nicki Mann said...

Remember the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence... No matter WHAT you'll do, you'll always wonder if you'd have been better off doing it differently. In the case of building a family, it seems like you can't go wrong... just bring them, and love them, and hope for the best!

erin said...

thought-provoking post! I feel like the second paragraph, but hey, I'm only 6 months in.

Now that L. has turned 3, I do feel like I had a very abbreviated baby-stage with him, he's such a big boy now! I wonder if I'll regret having never parented a baby, but at the same time, the boys' increasing independence is allowing me to breathe a little. Al and I are finally feeling slightly normal, so no discussions are happening except in my own head, for now.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things, discussing, preparing in case, but not jumping in the deep end. Little bun's idea is definitely an interesting one!