“Grace and I can share popsicles because we have the same blood.” Annalise made this comment a few weeks ago and though it made me laugh, it also made me think. What did that mean in her young mind? That Trey, Addison, and Henry weren’t her siblings? No. That’s not what she meant. That we weren’t her “real” family? Maybe on a subconscious level, but I don’t think she meant that either.
What I think she meant was exactly what she said. Her and Grace share DNA so they can share food. In her 8 year old mind their germs are the same. Now, you should know something. There was a time this would’ve offended me. Truly. That’s how fragile I was as an adoptive mom. I would’ve felt the need to stand up for whatever injustice I felt this did to Trey, Addie, and Henry and I would’ve needed to make this right. Lest they feel left out.
Not long ago, Annalise did something that was the spitting image of something J.O. would do. I jokingly said, “oh my goodness, you are so much like your daddy.” To which Anna quipped back and said, “which one?” Because again…she’s smart. She realizes that she shares DNA with another man so technically she doesn’t get innate traits from J.O. Now, ashamedly years ago I would have said something like: “What do you mean, which one? You only have one dad.” But, we all know that to be a lie.
I was talking to a therapist years ago and told her Annalise continually told us she would live with us for a bit, and then go back to her other parents. This was right after the adoption and it was devastating to me. I still had the mentality of wiping out her past and rewriting it with only us. Because, I had a God complex apparently. And I will never forget what the therapist said to me. She said, “And so what if she does? What if she leaves at 18 and does just that? Will you have the kind of relationship that can survive it?”
Ouch. The answer was no. Would that be a hard reality if it happened? Of course. But, does it keep me awake at night? No. The truth is, Annalise and Grace have traits that are clearly from someone else. Physical traits aside, those girls can bend in ways that would literally snap Addie right in half. Henry spends his days in the dirt making truck sounds while Trey hates to be dirty. All kids are different. Biological or not. Trey and Addison could not be more different if they tried, but they get certain undeniable traits from J.O. and I.
I suppose the point is this. When you know better you do better. I feel like our world needs to hear this now more than ever. Don’t live on traditions simply because they make you feel safe. Truthfully, the very things some of us hold near and dear are the very things that make others feel threatened. Addie and Trey were not threatened at all when Annalise wouldn’t share her popsicle. Other than simply wanting the rest of it, there was no injustice done. There was no oppression to them by missing out. There was nothing holding them back from their dreams of getting their own popsicle one day. It was a perceived injustice that truthfully just made them irritated.
Obviously this is an exaggerated and silly example, but hopefully you get the point. I could’ve silenced Annalise that day and she no doubt would’ve conformed to my desires. She would’ve learned to hide the hard things and not speak up about things that make us uncomfortable. I would “win” and she would lose. Until the day she had her own voice and freedom to talk. And would people see a bitter, ungrateful adoptee? Or would they listen? Would they care about the history? The backstory? The therapist who advised her adoptive mom all those years ago to make better decisions? Or would they think she was threatening the entire system of adoption and try to silence her? Would she become an “angry adoptee” or a voice of reason?
Maybe it’s time to listen to those traditionally silenced. Even if we don’t understand. Or like it. Or even agree. Will our relationships withstand this? Are they strong enough? If your answer is no, it may be time to figure out why.