Friday, February 09, 2007

She makes an announcement in public

Taking advice from a commenter, I reminded BJ about her comment that her friend did not believe her about being adopted and asked BJ if it woud be OK if I spoke to my friend (her friend's mom) about the fact that we adopted her.

BJ responded in this very casually adult manner, "I would rather tell her myself"


So, tonight we had a community event and these friends were there and we were going out after to get a bite to eat along with another adult that we haven't seen in several months but who both girls like a lot. BJ asked to ride in the car over with the friends. We do this all the time.

We get settled in the restaurant and start looking at the menu. BJ looks up and says MOM! (names of friends) don't believe I am adopted!

I looked at BJ and said in a pleasant upbeat but cautious voice... "You want to talk about this now?" (mostly because I was surprised in front of this other person after she wanted us not to tell ANYONE.)

She nodded yes. So I said, We adopted BJ when she was an infant.

The other two adults at the table's mouths fell open.

My friend said to BJ, I am sorry honey, I thought you were telling a story like when we tell bigger and bigger tall tales. (or something like that meaning I am sorry I didn't believe you but I didn't really think you were lying).

One of them (I don't remember which, maybe both) asked if there was any contact. I said no- it is a closed adoption through the county.

I said to my friend, I had never said anything because when we moved here BJ asked us not to. She is old enough, this is her story to tell.

Both friends immediately told me of people in their lives who were adopted and say they never want to search.

(I was a little surprised, I am used to the question about contact but not the assumption that not searching is something to be praised or somehow would be an encouragement)

I responded: "Well, I have a lot of information so when the time comes and she is ready, we should be able to have contact - we just don't right now. I actually hope she will want to have a relationship." There was a bit of silence as they digested that - nothing uncomfortable just a new approach for them, I guess. I felt the need myself to add something, and said "You see, I have a brother and two sisters that have a different mom. My brother was in and out of my life growing up but my sisters were raised in another country. I grew up with that feeling that there was this family, - out there - somewhere, and wanting that connecton. So I want that connection for her someday."

The two girls by this time were bored with the conversation and were drawing on menus, playing games and picking their meals. The waitress had been by 3 times and we hadn't really looked at the menu.

I told my friend - "now that you know, you will start seeing things around the house and wondering how you missed it. It's not a secret, its just part of our family story. there are plaques on the wall (the adoption announcement) and scrapbooks that cover the adoption stuff. And you will start thinking about how I have never talked about a pregnancy or giving birth, how I have said when she arrived, etc.

Both of these women care about BJ a great deal and I know they wanted to ask more questions but were very sensitive to the fact that I was letting BJ lead what we spoke about and my checking. They kept a positive tone of voice and were affirming to BJ and I am thankful for that.

I am sure BJ listened to every word, I don't know what she will take away from their first reactions about not searching and my response supporting contact. When we were home and getting ready for bed I asked her how she felt about the conversation about being adopted. She said good,again with an upbeat tone. I didn't ask anymore.

I know my friend and she will have questions when it is just us, and that is fine. I know she was quite surprised. I forgot this in the retelling above, but one of the first things she said was... but she looks SO Much like your husband. I joked and said - gee thanks!

(like and not me? )- BJ does look a lot like me in general, if you look at specific features and compare to either hubby or I, you see that its not there -but most people I have found don't do that - BJ's coloring is smack dab in the middle of hubby and I, her face shape is generally like mine and her eye color is somewhat like his, so separate from adoption people comment on how much she looks like us and I have a couple baby pictures where we look a lot alike at the same age. I think that it might be possibe one of the reasons I have been so obsessed about getting a photo of L, other than having read that is the#1 question teen female adoptees ask (do I look like her), is that I want to see some of those features, and I want to see if we look like L ourselves.

But then I told them that while at first I found it offensive in the abstract, that the sw assigned to her had 5 home study certified families that the staffing had all found as good matches, so she actually sat down with photos and just chose the family that looked most like baby. While in general it doesnt seem right, I was glad we were picked for her - even if it was something as silly as hair color when hers fell out and changed color and mine was died at the time.


Blogger petunia said...

I love reading about your daughter and her questions...I will have to go through all this in a few years....

9:02 PM  
Blogger Third Mom said...

I love that BJ was able to lead the dialog - and I think it's incredibly significant that she herself has decided to start talking about adoption, and is comfortable doing so. All that preparation you've done has been so important.

5:48 AM  
Blogger suz said...

you never cease to amaze me. good job, what a great mom you are.

7:20 AM  
Blogger janets said...

Marlene, I just love reading your posts! You really are a fantastic Mum. How amazing for BJ to take the lead, and what a good job you did of explaining things to your friends. It is sad that the reaction from others does seem to be in the vein of "don't worry, not many search", as though connecting with roots is a bad thing. It's a bit like the reaction I got from people when I spoke about searching for my birth parents. They'd say, "but you have such wonderful parents". That made me stop talking. What you're doing is stopping that secrecy that has always hung around adoption. Well done! I suppose that's why I wrote my book, 'Beyond the Red Door' (available at because the secrecy I lived with was unbearable. BJ will have no problems feeling comfortable with talking about her feelings, because there is no secrecy in your family.

8:35 PM  

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