Saturday, April 16, 2011

some saturday thoughts…

it’s saturday afternoon and I’m feeling particularly contemplative. partly, a brief conversation with a practical stranger sparked some thoughts swirling in my head. partly, I just tend to be that way.  sure, there is work I could be doing… dusting, sweeping, changing beds, etc… but I’m going to sit here and think out of my keyboard. this will probably wind up being way ramble-y, and brutally honest to the point of discomfort… I don’t know. we’ll see where it goes…

  1. my family is not ‘normal’. I know what you’re all thinking… that’s a given, right? no family is normal, we’re all unique, there’s no such thing as normal, abnormalcy is hereditary so what do I expect… yeah yeah. that’s not what I mean. my nuclear family is not quite nuclear. I know that’s kind of the norm these days, with divorce and remarriage and step-kids and half-kids and such. wait. that sounded funny. not half-KIDS. the kids are whole… the siblings are half. you know what I mean. families are all different, it seems, and different is the new normal. but here’s the thing. my family looks normal, aside from the fact that it’s not. most people who know us somewhat well, know that shane is not dave’s biological child. he was 5 when dave and I got married. shortly thereafter, we had two children together. most people who meet us now, assume that we are ‘normal’. they would have little reason not to. the kids all kinda look alike. they all have light-ish hair and brown eyes. quite honestly, they all look more like dave than they do like me. even shane. he calls him ‘dad’. he goes by his last name, although legally it’s not. the dynamic in all of this is a bit odd. dave is very much a ‘stepdad’, although that’s not a word we ever use or the feel we want to go for, and it’s not like dave replaced anyone. you see there is no real dad to be the oppositional counterpart to the stepdad. well, obviously there was such a person at one time, but that person only exists in bad memories and 50% of my son’s DNA. for all practical purposes, he does not exist. but that still does not remove the fact that remove that dave is NOT that person. in our normal, day to day lives, this is not really an issue. well, I suppose it might be, if you ask dave or shane, but from my perspective as the common denominator, it’s just my life. it’s what it is. it’s who we are. the end. the only time it is an issue is when we, for whatever reason, have to address it with people. provide explanations, etc. it feels weird, awkward. not because we feel weird or awkward about it, or even because other people act weird or awkward about it, it’s just because most days, it’s one of those ignored facts of our life. it is what it is, and we don’t talk about it a ton. I don’t know. maybe we should? for now, we just live.
  2. “I’m adopted”. unrelated to the first thought. some people know this about me, others don’t. I am adopted. or, as I’ve taken to saying in recent years, I was adopted. I’m not sure why, but something about the ‘am’ sounds funny to me. like if I say I am female. I am christian. I am american. it’s like a constant, perpetual state of being. adopted just seems like an odd state to perpetually be in. it happened once. when I was born. and although it has probably affected every single aspect of my life, being, and personality in one way or another, I don’t like the feel of it. it sounds more like a label than a part of my history. having been adopted is not a huge deal to me. partly, I assume, because it happened when I was an infant. I was always going to be adopted. it’s not like I had a family and something happened to them and then I was adopted. I was my parents’ child from the start. when I was younger, unless people knew my family situation already, they probably wouldn’t have suspected that I was not my parents’ biological child. I don’t look unlike my parents enough to stand out as an obviously adopted child. they are white, I am white. my dad has dark hair, as do i. they both have light eyes, whereas mine are brown, but it’s not unheard of… brown eyes are dominant, you know. it became a tad more apparent when I got to be in about junior high and it became clear that I was… well… short. really short. if you have never met my parents, this means nothing to you. let me fill you in. my mom is 6 feet tall. my dad is 6 foot 9. this scenario led to some interesting situations. there was the time that, at the age of 16, I went to a restaurant with my parents and the waitress gave me a children’s menu and crayons. there has been more than one occasion where I would introduce people to my parents and they would look at them, dumbfounded, look back at me, and then ask eloquently, “what happened to you?” true story. when the whole adopted thing is explained to people, I get a variety of reactions. most people are like, OOHHH! and the lights come on and it all suddenly makes sense. other people, who obviously are uncomfortable or think that I am, for some reason, get all awkward and apologetic, like they brought up a topic they shouldn’t have. when I was younger, I would get a lot of questions that I thought were VERY strange; how old were you when you were adopted? did you live in an orphanage? did you know your real mom? were you abandoned? stuff like that. as a kid, I didn’t really know there was the option to adopt something other than a baby, and I just figured they’d seen ‘annie’ too many times. but for me, it was just a fact of life.
  3. and so? I’m going to ask the good lutheran question here: what does this mean? I have no idea. these are just things that are in my head today. there is a connection though. in similar fashion to the way we feel kinda odd when we have to discuss with strangers about the dave and shane situation, it felt odd discussion my status as an adopted child. it was not something that was obvious and therefore was hardly ever discussed. it was just the way things were. we knew it, but we didn’t need to talk about it all the time. I wonder about how different it would be if it came up ALL the time. would it be annoying? would it be less awkward than it is for me, because you just get used to it? international adoptions are such a huge thing right now that it seems like that is the picture people get in their heads when they think of an adopted child. you know, the stereotypical white family with the obviously chinese daughter. I just wonder how many people are out there like me and my parents, or like shane and dave. you know? you never really think about it because unless someone looks drastically different than their parents or siblings, you just assume they are biologically related. I suppose it’s less than relevant, and I’ve wasted enough time contemplating this.
  4. at any rate. I commend my husband. not everyone is willing to jump in and raise a kid that isn’t your own. I commend my parents… well, because they’re my parents and I like them. I commend adoptive parents, both those whose children are obviously adopted, and those for whom it is less than apparent to the casual observer. parenting is a hard job your kid pops out of your own body and you are with them from day one. I can’t begin to imagine how that dynamic changes and the different challenges that come with an adopted child.
  5. having been adopted myself, and having my own biological children already, would I ever consider adopting? that’s a good question. probably. I have to say that it’s not like I feel ‘called’ to do so. I have not had a ‘burden’ for foster children or orphans placed on my heart. at least not at this point in my life. I don’t know that that is something that is always there for people, though. I suppose it develops as a result of an experience or just something God gives you at the time when you are ready for it. so I can’t say that I’ll never feel that way. I also have obviously not had trouble in the fertility department. I have children. 3 of them. they are great. I don’t need more children. however, should God see fit to bless me with the task of being mother to other children in the future, I will not refuse.
  6. reading over this, I think it sounds like I have cast a somewhat negative light on adoption in general or being adopted. I’ve used words like ‘real’ and ‘biological’ and I hope no one takes that the wrong way. I don’t mean it like that, and really don’t consider myself to be somehow ‘less’ than my parents’ child than I would be if I were biologically theirs, even if what I have written makes it sound that way. sometimes written language can be so limiting. I feel lacking in my ability to make this sound the way I want it to. I feel like I’m generalizing or making assumptions and maybe I am. I don’t know. it is my hope that no one will feel confused or offended by what I’ve written.

so there it is, I guess. excuse my typically long-winded ramble and invented punctuation rules. those are my saturday thoughts. well, a few of them at least.

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