Thursday, June 19, 2008

BACKGROUND CHECK

The difference between two kids raised in the same house can, at times, be astounding. One distinct thing that separates my children is the level of interest they show in finding out information about their birthparents. We have had both of our children since birth, so neither one have any actual memories of their birthmoms.

Maggie asks a ton of questions about her birth mom and her background. I can remember the exact moment when Maggie realized that she wasn't "the same" as Chris and me. She was about two years old and sitting on her potty chair before she got in the bathtub. She was completely naked, and for whatever reason, she looked down at her belly, then over at the dog and declared, "I'm brown like Dempsey. You're not brown like me and Dempsey." And so it started.

Maggie has always had an intense curiosity about birth mom. We have tried to answer her questions as honestly as we could, at the level she was ready for. A lot of her questions we don't have answers for, simply because our knowledge about her birth mom is limited. Some questions she asks over and over again, as if wanting to solidify certain facts in her mind, lest she forget them. I would say that at least once every two weeks, she asks me some question about her birth mom, her adoption, or something that relates in someway to her background.

Being only seven, Maggie doesn't have a real solid grasp on how the whole adoption thing works. In reality, you fill out scads of paperwork and have every angle of your life examined top to bottom. You give intimate details of your marriage and upbringing to complete strangers at the agency. You have people come to your home and measure and inspect. You take classes to educate you on adoption and parenting. You pay money. And then you wait for the phone to ring.

I think in Maggie's mind, she envisions us walking among the little baby beds in the hospital nursery, carefully inspecting each baby before we finally settled on her. I have tried to paint a more accurate picture for her, but I can't seem to dispel this fairy tale notion that has settled in her head. I know that when she is older, she will be better able to understand.

As for Aleita, the child has yet to ever ask a one question about adoption. Now granted, she is only four, but by the time Maggie was the age Aleita is now, the questions had already started to come. In fact, Aleita has yet to ever mention one word about the fact that she is a different skin color than Chris and me. She has, on occasion, made reference to her own brown skin color, but it has never been in contrast to the white of Chris and myself or to question why we are different from each other. She has been in the room or in the car several times when Maggie has asked questions of her birthmom and such, but seems to have no interest in pursuing the conversation further regarding her own adoption or birthparents. One time, when sitting at the table at dinner, Maggie tried to pique Aleita's curiosity about her birthmom by throwing out a few random things that she remembers from when Aleita was born. I pulled Maggie aside and told her that when Aleita was ready and wanted to know more, she would ask the questions and that it wasn't Maggie's job to instigate it. As for Aleita, she has made reference several times to the fact that she came from heaven - - I think as far as she is concerned, that is all the background information she needs to know.

I am not bothered by Maggie's need for answers about her history, or for the lack thereof on Aleita's part. I just find it interesting the difference between the level of curiosity of each of them regarding this topic.

3 comments:

Karen R said...

That was an interesting blog. I have to admit, that I had on occassion, wondered if your girls had started asking questions yet and if so, how detailed the questions were.

papadale said...

I think back on the time that Grandma Mary asked "So where did Maggie Mae come from?" making reference to the name, and thinking of a tie to a Rod Stewart song. Your almost instant reply was "Heaven", having known Maggie almost as long as you and Chris have, I couldn't agree more, I must continue, I feel the same about ALL my Grandbabies, Maggie just had the good luck to be my oldest. Sometimes the simplest answers are the very best ones. I believe every one in Maggie's and Aleita's extended family has always thought of them as your children, and have never felt it necessary to use adopted in a descriptive phrase of them. Maggie's curiosity seems to extend to everything she encounters in life, here's hoping that continues, for, I believe, Curiosity is the corner stone and strongest part of the foundation of learning. Aleita seems to form an immediate opinion of everything she encounters, no explanation needed, she's sure she already has the answer, and, it seems to her, you should know it by now, and accept her early wisdom. A part of these traits children are born with, and a part are learned from parents and all the others around them. If you ever can define all these differences,let me know, I'll find a good publisher for you.

Leanne said...

Interesting.

I did not adopt any of my trio but with one we get a lot of stories and questions about their 'babyhood' and with the other two I get nothing.

Weird little people aren't they? :)