I get it. Please don’t read this and think I’m sour grapes. That’s not it. I know how it looks from the outside.
When I hear how lucky Penelope is I cringe a little. We hear it a lot. This isn’t meant to offend anyone. The support we’ve gotten has been overwhelming and much needed. However I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss it here. Saying Penelope is lucky glosses over the events that led to her ending up in our grateful arms. Unfortunately her situation is not unique.
I don’t know much but I know enough to say China’s “One Child Policy” is not the sole reason why so many Chinese girls (and boys) find themselves with parents other than the ones that gave birth to them. There is no single reason why families have made the decision to leave their child in a railway station, a hospital, or a street corner. Some parents relinquish their children out of extreme hardship (Haley’s story in “Somewhere Between” and Wyatt’s story here come to mind) and feel the loss every day. Still other families are torn apart by human traffickers. Regardless of the circumstance, a separation has taken place, causing someone or everyone involved a measure of grief.
“But she’s with you now, she has a family!” True. Right now we’re in the honeymoon period. I’m aware of it every day and I don’t take it for granted. I love it. Being called “daddy”, getting hugs and kisses, and seeing pure joy on Penelope’s face is priceless. But I also know a day will come when Penelope starts asking questions. She’ll want to know about her other mother and father, the ones in China. I don’t have a script for that day but I’m 100% certain it will not be “Why are you asking about your China family, you’re so lucky to have us!”.
“So what do you believe if you don’t think she’s lucky?”
Two things. For Jenn and I, we made a decision to adopt. We narrowed that choice down to a daughter. For a myriad of reasons China was our country of choice.
Penelope was born and shortly afterwards living at Shepherd’s Field Children Village. She was there for two years. One day she was placed in our arms. All of this was beyond her control. Everything in her life up to this point has happened to her. The day will come when she begins to shape her own destiny, to make her own choices.
That’s what I believe. Luck is not a factor in my mind.
There’s a documentary about aging punk rockers turned fathers called “The Other F Word“. Flea, the bass player for Red Hot Chili Peppers and occasional actor said the most remarkable thing in that 2:30 minute trailer.
The classic parent attitude would be like “I brought you into this world, I gave your life!”. I think the complete opposite. They gave me life. They gave me a reason.
I was floored when I heard that, and not because it was Needles from “Back to the Future” saying it. When people say how lucky Penelope is I tell them “Jenn and I are the lucky ones”. (I don’t have time to discuss luck with most people, so throwing my comment out there is the closest I can get to my thoughts without sounding like a jerk). We have a great marriage and love each other deeply. Having a child was like turning our hearts up to 11 or increasing the saturation on our lives. A new and amazing dynamic was added.
I’d love to hear from other adoptive parents on this. What are your thoughts and feelings when people say how lucky your children are?
Today is Sunday, January 28th 2013. It’s been several months since this was written. I recently found this post from a Taiwanese adoptee with the opposing point of view. Her post is thought provoking and brilliantly written.