I have had to take parenting classes on line recently for our current adoption. It is funny because as I take classes on medical issues or how to discuss with your child their adoption story it is clinical. I can relate to that as a social worker myself, but also I can relate to that they can’t teach you in a book. how to deal with these complex issues. On one hand only life experience can teach you that.
It is similar to the way a close friend of mine, and I relate to the field of social work. I have years of experience in with homeless mentally ill folks around the country, and a clinical license but I have never fought true poverty. I can imagine and empathize. My friend on the other hand has life experiences that shape her view of the world, and make her a great clinician, although she hasn’t had the training or education. I teach her everyday, and she teaches me. This is similar to how each child is different in their adoption story, due to who they are. You can learn some of this in a book, but other times you learn from experience how to handle these issues.
My oldest, who is 7 loves to talk about Ethiopia, and her first mom. We talk about her and their life frequently. She has pictures of her and us on her dresser, and we talk about her feelings of transition, joy, loss, grief and resilience.
My 5 year old son though, is the complete opposite. They are 18 months apart, but so different. He was three when he arrived home, and has never wanted to talk much about Ethiopia or his first life. He usually asks can we talk about something else. With him I look for those moments when we can talk and share stories of his past. Today I was watching a video at the Horizon House kitchen (where the kids from Wide Horizons stay before they are adopted.) He came in the room when he heard Ethiopian music on the computer. He asked if that was the place where he lived with his first mom. I told him that is where he stayed after he left her before we came to get him. He talked to me about how they used to play freeze tag there, and told me of other experiences he had there. Some were reality and some make believe. He has a vivid imagination. We then discussed that was where his little brother will be when we go to get him. He told me, “I can’t wait to meet him.”
In that moment I realized every child and every situation is different, and through my own adoption experience I learn how to deal with these issues as they arise. I become a better mom with each conversation. I have three very different children, who handle their adoption journey very differently. I wonder what my last baby boy will be like. “I can’t wait to meet him.”