Tonight, Coffee and I are going to the local agency to talk about Older Child Adoption again.
I very much enjoy doing this, in part because there are so many older kids “in the system” that could really, really benefit from a family of their own (so I like to do my part to promote the concept), and also in part because I enjoy talking about my boys to anyone who’ll listen.
It’s also a nice way for me to see how I’m feeling about things, in general, by interpreting my (quick) answers to questions that I’m asked. I consider it to be Thinking Under The Influence – of a room filled with people planning to foster or adopt.
At the last session we attended, a lovely couple asked whether we feel any regret about not (to paraphrase) spreading our own genes. Did we regret not passing on our biological-ness? Did we have any concern about not leaving a legacy?
I told them that I had wondered, initially, if I would have regrets. I wasn’t feeling any urge to procreate at the time that we decided to adopt, and that alone seemed like a good indication toward not having future regrets, but I did spend some time pondering the future and came to the conclusion that I really was okay with the idea of not passing on my genes.
I still feel that way.
Really, I think I’m a rather nifty person at times, with intriguing quirks and odd habits, but I’m not convinced that I’d pass those interesting bits along to a biological child. I’d be more concerned about not passing on my family’s shitty health issues and premature death issues and mood disorders and the like.
I look at our boys and I can see the influence of their past on them, of course, and my ego likes to tell me that if I’d birthed them myself I could have influenced certain aspects of them in ways that I consider important. My brain, however, knows that’s not true, for the most part. They are who they are and my job is to help them understand that and maximize the good.
At the same time, I can easily see the influence that Coffee and I have had on them in the past year. I hear some of my own words echoed back to me (by Maymo, in particular). I see actions and behaviours that I know came from Coffee. I see them understanding the values and morals that Coffee and I hold dear and, too, embracing some of those for themselves while trying to figure out why the others are so important to us.
I don’t ever feel like “less” of a mother, having adopted my kids, except on those rare occasions when I’m asked a question about my boys that I can’t answer (for example, “What were your boys like as babies?” asked by someone who doesn’t know that they’re adopted). As I grow more comfortable with what I’m trying to do over here, learning from my mistakes and trying not to focus simply on my failures, I feel less like an imposter in the mother-circle because I am, still, a mother. I am mothering-in-action!
There is no concern in my mind that the boys will grow up and forget me because they’re adopted – or not talk about me when I’m dead, or whatever I’m supposed to be worried about – for the simple reason that even biological children will grow up and have their own lives. At some point I, and all other parents, will (appropriately) fade out of the big picture and pop up only in anecdotes, memories, occasional visits, etc. They will no longer consult me on their decisions and I will no longer be required to give my permission for their adventures.
My job is to be a launching point for my children, not to be their raison d’être. Of course it’d be great if they visited regularly and called me and we could be something akin to adult-friends-but-not-quite. But I didn’t adopt kids so I could have constant companionship (that’s what Coffee’s for! Ha!) or so they could immortalize me.
There will likely come a time when all three boys will be in touch with their biological mother. For now, I don’t think much about it (Oldest One has about 7 years until he’s legally allowed and, in my estimation, he’ll likely seek her out before then) but I do recognize that my relationship with the boys will shift then. Will they consider me a glorified babysitter? Will they have a hard time balancing their feelings toward her and me?
I like to think that our openness with the boys, when it comes to adoption and why they were adopted and how I feel toward their biological mother (etc etc etc) will make that transition easier. They won’t need to pick sides. I am not their biological mother, and no one is pretending otherwise, but I am their mother.
I do wonder, from time to time, what a child created by Coffee and me would look like – physically, I mean. But it’s such a vague and empty wonder as to be completely angst-free. Adoption was, and still is, the best option for me.