What my kids really think about adoption


Maya Benson
Focus on Adoption magazine

When Maya Benson took her four children to Jane Brown’s Adoption Playshops, she thought it would be the kids that would do all the learning! How wrong she was.

Earlier this year, I decided it would be a great idea to take my kids to one of Jane Brown’s Adoption Playshops when she visited the Lower Mainland. I thought our children could discuss their experiences with other kids who were also adopted.

At the end of the parents’ debriefing, before the Playshops, Jane told us that after the playshops we may hear nothing from our kids about what they thought of the event, or we may hear a lot. Whatever happened, she explained, we needed to realize that the content would percolate through their minds at some point. Given that advice, I thought I was prepared to hear what my kids had to say on the way home. I certainly didn’t expect to hear what I did.

At least I didn’t take it personally—Jane cautioned us not to do that. I did expect some positive comments, though. There were two: one of my kids was glad another boy his age attended, and one liked the teen helpers. That was it.

Letting mom have it!

Once we got into the car, they let me have it!
“Mom! How could you? Why did you make us go to a stupid adoption thing?”
“It wasn’t fun. I hate adoption stuff!”
“We already know all about adoption.”
“You probably sent us there just to make us mad about adoption!”
“Who cares if anyone else was adopted?
“Why do we have to know about this stuff anyways? I would have rather gone to church, and I hate church!
“You’re trying to make us feel not normal. Everytime you talk about adoption, you make us feel not normal. Normal people aren’t adopted.”

One of my kids, who was adopted as a baby, was annoyed because she didn’t get a “choice” about being adopted. At least her older siblings got a say in the matter! If it was up to her, she wouldn’t have been adopted. When that can of worms opened up, her brothers and sisters said that if they’d known what adoption was like they would have made a different choice!

Sheesh! You’d have thought we kept them in a cage and fed them gruel!

When their feelings are rollercoastering around, they throw out hurtful comments at those they feel safe with—mainly parents. It won’t do you any good to remind them how much they are loved and that they have a forever family. They know that, but it doesn’t change how they feel.

Then they told me that we “embarrass” them because when we show up as a family, the first thing people know about them is that they are adopted! And here I was doing my best not to kiss or hug them in front of their friends! I guess I’ll just have to get used to the idea that I won’t be able to do much that is right in their eyes for the next few years. I’m just hoping that one day they’ll look back and become really aware of just how very much they are loved.

Interestingly, my kids also thought that the kids adopted from China at the Playshop had nothing to do with them. Adoption is something they seem to associate only with themselves, which makes me shake my head wondering what they have thought all this stuff was about all this time! Kids!

Anyway, I was able to swallow, count to 10, and talk somewhat rationally with them. I told them that I don’t make them “always” go to “adoption stuff” but, this time, I felt it was important. I said I was sorry they didn’t feel the same way, but they were entitled to their own feelings.

My eldest actually went for a one-and-a-half hour nap once we arrived back home, claiming he didn’t “feel well.” He was fine when we left Burnaby. Later, he ate a full turkey dinner with no obvious ill effects. I guess emotions come out in different ways. One of my kids was unusually quiet, and another was being really silly. But after our little post-playshop chat, they had no interest in discussing anything related to adoption.

Wow! That was a powerful eye opener for me. What you see, and what they think, are probably about as closely related as east is to west—they are both directions, but not going the same way!

As a transracial family, you get used to being in the public eye. Sometimes parents can forget how raw, overwhelming, and intense everything can be to a child, especially a teen. I guess my husband and I figured that since we had gotten used to being our family, our kids had too. Wrong! They experience life in a totally different way. 

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