The essay below is from my 2012 appearance in Austin’s Listen To Your Mother Show.
The entire experience was unforgettable–but nothing more so than seeing the pride on my child’s face as I shared our story. Recently, as we chatted about National Adoption Month, she expressed her excitement for our *dear* friend Sarah & how cool it is one of her new Oakland BFFs is adopted from Guatemala, too.
We looked through pictures. We talked about adoption. We brainstormed/listed all the various ways families are created. We watched the LTYM video again.
Im sharing today. At her request. It’s her story.
People frequently ask me if my daughter knows she’s adopted.
They tend to ask in front of her using stage-whispers which make me long to point out she’s six, she’s not deaf.
It’s odd to even consider the notion that when I was young, parents decided when and how and whether to tell their children they were adopted. It’s baffling to me how common it was for children to have this news thrust upon them at age 5 or 8 or, if the rumblings I heard around junior high school were true, even as old as 13.
Thankfully things have changed.
The majority of adopted children grow up having a sense of always “just knowing” their story.
Rather than being something silenced and secret it’s told over & over in the same fashion biological children ask to hear their birth story repeated.
Adopted children ask the same questions each time and find the same comfort in hearing the answers recited the exact.same.way. each time the story is re-told.
“I’ll never forget when we got your referral pictures…” our story begins. “Your dad was working late and I could not WAIT for him to get home so I could open the email. I *barely* waited till he came home. I sat on the couch, computer on lap, finger hovering over the word OPEN so the moment he walked in the door I could click and you’d be there INSTANTLY and forever a part of our family.”
And then? Tell me about the necklace, Mama.
“And then, after we’d sent everyone we knew your perfect picture and told them what we’d decided to name you, I had a necklace made. Right then. That night. Thank G-d for online shopping. I made a tiny charm with your picture on it and I vowed to wear it until you were home with us forever.”
And the Buddha? Tell me how someone thought I was the Buddha.
“I wore the necklace from the moment it arrived and I never took it off. Not to shower. Not when I got “fancy.” Never. The days dragged and the red tape wrapped around your adoption file and the necklace remained around my neck. Most days I forgot I had it on even as I absentmindedly rubbed and fiddled with the piece of silver until the picture was there but it was smeary and fingerprinted.”
And the Buddha, Mama? That part?
“And one day I was waiting impatiently in a grocery line (rubbing and fiddling. Fiddling and rubbing.) when a woman turned to me and said: that’s the most lovely Buddha necklace I believe I have ever seen.”
And you didn’t wanna embarrass her did you, Mama?
“I didn’t, BabyGirl. Your eyes were closed, the picture was tiny and I kept you with me for strength and calm. In a way you were *my* Buddha. I just smiled and said thank you.”
Tell me about Guatemala, Mama. Did you go there and look around and say I’ll take the girl with the black hair, mama?
“Do you love movies as I do, BabyGirl?”
“Are you afraid of thunder as I was when I was a girl?”
“Do you love to dance and sing and write as I do, BabyGirl?”
I do Mama I do.
“You were meant to be my girl. And I was meant to be your mom.”
Tell me about the first time we met, Mama. Tell me about the blankeys.
“You were tiny, BabyGirl. Teeny tiny and your foster mom had you wrapped in more blankets and layers than I’d seen in a lifetime.”
Tell me how excited you were , Mama. About how you held me.
“With all the words in the world, BabyGirl there isn’t one that describes how excited I was. I unwrapped and unwrapped you and I held you. And I held you.”
Tell me about how you had to leave me there, Mama. Tell me about crying and Texas and about coming back for me. Tell me how you came back for me.
“I did, BabyGirl. I treasured our visits. I was grateful we could visit and I hated our goodbyes. I cried. I cried big deep sobs from the bottom of my belly from a place I didn’t know I had. From a place marked BabyGirl.”
And then you came back…
“And then I came back. I grew tired of the waiting and I longed to be with you. I brought my stuff and your stuff and I came back to stay. And we waited there together. And we counted the weeks. And we measured the months. And we unwound the red tape until finally—“
Until finally I could come to Texas and be home.
“Yes, BabyGirl until you could finally come to Texas and be home.”
I live a public life. A very transparent life.
I’m a professional blogger and I let it all hang out online—the good and the bad— in a decidedly open fashion.
I don’t much mention my daughter’s adoption story online because I feel it is her story to tell.
Because of this fact people frequently ask *me* if my daughter knows she’s adopted.
She knows she’s adopted.
She knows her story.
And maybe, someday, if you’re very good and very patient and ask the right questions at the proper time she’ll share it with you, too.