Of Age and Adoption

When Anthony was born, I was 17 years old and only months away from graduating high school. And Ethan, he was born when I was 18.

Now, I  might seem weird to some people if they didn’t know the whole story: my boys were adopted.

I get weird looks sometimes as I walk out with the boys or if I’m asked about the age of my kids at work. People are surprised to hear that I could have a 10-year-old at my age. My first response was initially to explain the situation, “oh, well you see, they’re adopted. We just finalized the adoption last Christmas.”

But that came out weird. That makes it sounds as if we haven’t  been raising them for years and haven’t been a part of their lives since they were born. Eventually, I began explaining the entire situation to anyone who would ask.

When I got pregnant with Keira, it added another complication to the age question. “Oh, is this your first baby?”

“Well, kinda.”

“Ha! How can it only ‘kinda’ be your first?” Again, I would have to explain the entire story.

Once, while I was out with all three of my kids, a complete stranger remarked on the boys and how well-mannered they were. “Are they all your children?” I nodded and along came the eye-brow raise as she surveyed my age and surveyed the boys’ ages. Instinctively, I began my speech on how they were actually adopted…. until, I looked over at Ethan.

While he was originally beaming at the woman for complimenting him, he started to look down and shuffle his feet, uncomfortable with the fact that I had called out that he was adopted. He was different. He didn’t belong. I could see these thoughts float across his face.

What was I thinking? Was trying to explain away the possibility that I was a “teen mom” worth the discomfort I was putting on my child? Why was it more important for me to be less uncomfortable than the security and belonging of my son? It wasn’t.

The following week, Ethan, Keira and I went on a trip to our favorite grocery store. I saw a woman baby wearing her baby and immediately struck up a conversation. Her baby was only 4 days older than Keira. She turned and looked at Ethan, “oh, is he your son as well?” I beamed and nodded. She turned to me and I could see that look starting to cross her face….

“I have a 10-year-old at home, too. It’s such a great help to have older siblings! They’re fantastic older brothers!!” She laughed and we talked on for a bit before parting ways. Ethan grabbed my hand, looked up at me and smiled.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

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  2. Nean
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 09:09:15

    I love you and I adore your family – especially your sons. I think you do a really great job and are very conscious of how the things you say and do affect them. And adoption is always an adjustment for all involved.

    I don’t have the same “teen mom” stigma issues. I don’t have to deal with the glances and questions that other “white” friends have when they walk down the street with their obviously “white” husband and their obviously “non-white” child(ren). There is no assumption of any “sexual deviance” associated with my family make-up.

    In fact most people would never even ask about my kids. Most people are surprised when they find out that one of them is adopted, and wouldn’t be able to tell which one that is from looking at them. I get, “I would have guessed they were both yours” a lot.

    Guess what. They are both mine. Forever.

    Just like Anthony and Ethan are yours through and through. 🙂

    Reply

  3. David Moulton
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 12:14:08

    Totally awesome to have grown in this way.

    Reply

  4. Brenda Boitson
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 20:07:23

    With Kevina having been 12 years older than myself, the fact that I’m now a widow, and dating someone 14 years older with a daughter whose only 7 years younger than myself, well, I get a lot of these same “looks”. It’s a different scenario, completely, but I understand those looks. I feel myself constant justifying!

    Reply

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