Dad’s Dialog: Lifting (by mistake) the awkward curtain of closed adoptions
My family lived in Charleston, South Carolina when I was a kid. We moved out west just after I finished kindergarten. Then one day, two decades later, the Navy stationed my brother out in that neck of the woods with his wife and their kids. They swung on over to our old stomping grounds and took pictures of things that he remembered- the huge old oak tree in front of the grade school, the swimming pool we used to splash around in, and of course, our old house.
While out in front of it, snapping a few photos, a young adult neighbor came out to see what they were doing. They chatted and talked about who still lived in the neighborhood and who moved away, etc. Suddenly my brother realized who he was.
“I remember you,” my brother said. “I remember when your parents adopted you.”
“I’m not adopted,” the young man corrected him. “You must be thinking of someone else.”
“Oh, well,” my brother said, “it must have been the people who lived there before you.”
“No,” the young man insisted. “My parents have lived here for a long long time.”
“Then it must be you,” my brother continued, not realizing that his wife was trying to nudge him into shutting up. “Yeah, it had to be you. I remember when they brought you home and we all went over to see you, and and and…”
He realized why his wife was trying to get him to stop talking and he changed the subject, “Oh, you’re probably right. I must be thinking of someone else.”
He wasn’t thinking of someone else, though. When he got home later on that day, he called up Mom and Dad and they were certain that he was adopted. He was the same boy.
Then there was that kid in my biology class- we were learning about blood types and we all took our blood types there in class. When the guy realized that his blood type didn’t match the possibilities handed down from his parents, the can of worms was open. He was in high school before he even found out he was adopted.
What’s the big secret about? I’m not adopted, but I have adopted both of my children. And guess what- I couldn’t possibly be more proud of the fact! I love my two little miracles more that I could have possibly imagined, and I couldn’t possible love them more if they were a genetic mixture of my wife and me. They’re my kids and I love them more than I love life.
So why the big secret? Why keep it from them? Times change, that’s why. My adoptions were both pretty recent (One born in 2010 and the other 2011). I don’t know what it was like to adopt a kid in the 1982 when my Charleston neighbor was brought home, but I do know that “open” adoptions were almost unheard of back then.
Adoption is something that I celebrate every morning when I wipe my little boy’s poopy butt. Adoption is something that I cherish every time my little girl spits up on my slacks during church. Having children didn’t “just happen” for my wife and me, so we embrace every little thing about having kids. And that may never have happened if it weren’t for some wonderful people who placed our little miracles into our arms. It is my life goal to help my kids embrace and cherish and love adoption as much as my wife and I do. It won’t be a secret. They won’t discover one day that their blood type doesn’t match ours. We celebrate the crazy and winding road that got us here. Hooray for adoption!