Saturday, January 21, 2012


We all have them.  We have hundreds of them.  We have happy ones and sad ones.  Funny ones and serious ones.  Defining ones and mundane ones.  But they are ours.  They are ours to tell, to hold onto, to allow to shape our lives, to learn from, to share, or to hold secret in our hearts.

As parents, many of our stories involve our children and events that will one day be their stories.  We create moments so that our children have stories.  We plan vacations, we build snow forts, we create picture albums, we make special dinners, we uphold traditions, we laugh, cry, and whisper together, we play in the backyard on summer nights, we go on picnics, and we lay on beds together reading book after book.........and many of those moments get woven into what will become our children's stories.  Events they will recall to their children, their friends.  Events that will shape who they become.

Their stories.

One of the most significant stories in my life is my adoption story.  The story of adopting Georgia.  The story of deciding that we were throwing in the towel of infertility treatments because we knew there was something better.  The story of meeting Georgia's birth-parents.  The story of bringing her home from the hospital.  All of those adoption moments are mine--my story.

But somewhere in there, my story and Georgia's story start to overlap.  They are entwined.  Because her story was already in the works before Chris and I even chose to adopt....before our adoption story started. She'd already been conceived. Her story actually started first.

I'm not a secretive person.  I lay it all out there.  Some call it verbal diarrhea, I call it honesty.  I also believe that we all go through so much and so many times we feel like we're the only ones even though that's usually so far from the truth.  If more people talked--more people wouldn't feel isolated--and I'm not only talking adoption here.....I'm talking life.  I knew so little about adoption when we started the process.  I'd honestly never really heard anyone talk that open and honest about it--especially domestic adoption.  I really couldn't find any books on it (that were good), I couldn't find many blogs at the time, navigable web-sites, or anyone that was willing to be totally transparent about it--the good and the bad.  It's why I started to blog about it.  I wanted everyone to know.  Writing about it was also therapeutic and helped to sear in my mind what I believed about the process.  And I continue to write about it. 

Here, and here, and here, and here.  And there's more.....but you get the point. 

So yeah..............I tell everyone, anywhere, at anytime whatever they really want to know about adoption.  In the check-out line at the grocery store, at the library, at work, to the world, and to people who probably don't care.  I tell because I LOVE it.  And I tell because I think it's crucial to spill it as I work to cultivate a culture of adoption with those I see frequently and those I'll never meet but who read what I write here.

I'm reading an amazing book right now (full review and giveaway to come later this month on Mom Colored Glasses) about being an adoptive parent and what my role is in my daughters life--besides the obvious--when it comes to her adoption and telling her story.  It begs adoptive parents to build a life-story for their children--a story that starts before they were placed in our homes, as our children--because our kids need us to shape their beginnings for them in truthful, safe, and honest ways.  "We are our children's storytellers," "Reality is the best option," "Even bad news is good news because it is real news," and  "To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward," are just a handful quotes amongst hundreds this book has to offer adoptive parents regarding why it's imperative that we build histories for our children that start at their conception--even if the details are sketchy..........because it proves their importance, their reality, and their worth.  We start their stories for them.  It's what all parents do.

It's true we start them.......but they are not ours to finish.  They are theirs.  And I've been thinking a lot recently about how long they are even ours to tell.  And before you think I'm saying I don't feel like I can talk about my child, herald our adoption story, or recount incidents both happy and sad, hard and simple about being a parent--that's not what I'm saying.  I'm saying I don't know how long it's fair for me to talk about Georgia's adoption with strangers and even with people I know without her telling me it's okay--especially in front of her.  I don't want to recount emotions that might not be there for her.  I don't want to assume what she thinks about in regards to being adopted.  I don't want her to think she's some sort of "party trick" that mommy likes to tell everybody about.  I will never know personally what it feels like to be adopted; only to adopt.  I'm sure she will tell me.

She might think deep thoughts about it.  She might not.  Everyone is different.  But regardless--as she gets older, enters adolescence, and connects all the pieces that we've provided for will be her choice what I say and what I write about being adopted and I'm committed to that.  I can tell my story.  But hers is..........hers.

And I think it's true for all kids.  We need to provide a strong, beautiful, and honest start to their stories.  We need to tell them their stories over and over until they're really theirs.  And then..........those stories need to be told by them--because they are theirs.

So work hard.  Work hard to start stories that your kids will be proud and confident to share for years to come.

Stories make us who we are.

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