Wow, the weeks are just flying by anymore. It’s Thursday again. Time for another list of thirteen things that apply to adoption as I know it. Last week I wrote a list of thirteen things I want for my relinquished daughter. However, like any parent, there are things that I don’t want for my daughter, too! Read through these and see how your wishes for things your child to avoid differ from my own. If at all.
1. Heartache. Silly wish, right? Her heart is going to be broken from time to time despite any protective actions taken by her everyday parents. That’s part of growing up and understanding what it is to love. So, while she won’t be able to avoid heartache, my flip-wish on this one is that she is able to go to her Mom (or Dad! or Grandma! or Someone!) to find comfort, tissues and cuddles.
2. Gender intelligence discrimination. I’m kind of big on this and my boys will be taught the same thing. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I wouldn’t be good at math or science because I was a girl. (Not by my parents! My Mom is a CPA!) Certain teachers spent less time with female students because they didn’t figure we cared or that their time would be well spent. It angers me now to think about it. Because, you know what? I’m just fine at math and, goodness, do I love science. I’m hoping that my daughter can either avoid or combat some of these negative gender stereotypes. If she wants to be musical and wordy, that’s fine. But I don’t want her to experience that discrimination so that she never feels “good enough” in a math or science classroom. (Or any classroom!)
3. Broken bones and/or serious illness. Like any other parent, I don’t want for my placed child to be sick or broken. I know the pain and, man, my ankle still hurts when the weather changes. Part of this is selfish, I’ll admit. I’ve seen my own boys experience minor illnesses and it breaks my heart but, well, I’m here to rock them, console them and nurse them back to health. If my relinquished daughter was to experience something “big,” I might go slightly insane pacing the floor of my own home, hundreds of miles from where she lives. The nurturer in me would want to rock, console and nurse her back to health but the reality of our situation wouldn’t permit it. And so, this wish is twofold: I simply don’t want her to be sick because I want her to be well (just like any parent) and, honestly, it would be really hard on me since I couldn’t lend a hand.
4. A bully or to be a bully. In middle school and high school, there were a few girls who went out of their way to attempt to make me feel bad about myself. Sometimes they succeeded, I’m sad to admit. I wish I could tell you that I had the self-confidence to tell one “Popular Girl” to go stick a sock in it when she made fun of my clothes. I wish I could tell you that I had the self-awareness to know that one mean girl was just feeling bad about herself and lashing out at me. But I didn’t. And I took it to heart at times. I hope that the Munchkin can avoid run-ins like I had during those years. If she can’t, I hope she deals with the situation in an appropriate manner. And, by far, I hope that she doesn’t bully others. I’m not too worried about that as I know her parents will raise her to have compassion for those who are bullied instead of a vice versa situation.
5. Low self-esteem. This one ties into a lot of “I Don’t Want That for My Daughter” issues. I had perpetually low self-esteem during my formative years. That lead to depression, an eating disorder, some self-destructive decisions, relationships that weren’t healthy and a myriad of other problems. While some unhealthy decisions were simply made because of various levels of stupidity on my part, I believe a lot of my “junk” could have been avoided had I believed in myself or possessed any form of self-confidence. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how to instill such a thing in a girl and I don’t envy her parents for having to deal with this specific topic. I know they’ll do their best, just as my parents did, and I know they’ll be there to support her if times get rough.
6. Sexual discrimination, harassment or assault. I thought that I would throw all of these under one heading. My daughter? Is beautiful. And I know that will leave the door open for any number of these experiences to fall at her feet. I’d move mountains so that she could avoid any one of them having experienced the lot of them. I don’t think any further explanation is needed as to why any parent would want their child to avoid such things.
7. Falling prey to her stubborn nature. Oh, she’s stubborn. Someone’s genetics might have something to do with it. (What? Me?) I know, all too well, how a “determined nature” can suddenly become “bullheaded stubborn stupidity.” It’s a fine line. A determined nature can get you far in life but you have to have the discernment to realize when enough is enough and you need to back away. I still struggle with this in my own life. I hope she learns when to admit that she is wrong (with grace even!) and when to throw in the towel without feeling like a “failure.”
8. An inability to communicate with her parents. Oh, I struggled with this in my teen years. I don’t want that for her! I want her to be able to go to her parents with anything. From homework questions to sex questions to friend issues to just simply needing a hug.
9. Sibling rivalry. Especially if it’s going to be compounded by adoption issues. Quite frankly, my brother and I didn’t get along until the past few years. We have an eight year age difference which attributed to some of the friction. Munchkin and her younger brother get along now. She also gets along well with my parented son(s). I hope that it can continue over the years. (Remember, I wanted her to have a relationship with ALL of her brothers in last week’s list which makes sense that this would be on this week’s list!)
10. Early loss of grandparents. I know about loss. But to be honest, I still have the majority of my grandparents in my life, even in my late twenties. In fact, all of my grandparents are still alive, as is one of my great-grandmothers. I had a great-great grandmother until I was nineteen! And the Munchkin has awesome grandparents. I hope they can be present at her wedding, hold their great-grandchildren and be a constant and loving presence in the Munchkin’s life.
11. Racial discrimination. I worry about this a lot. Because I know the things that her parents have overheard and have had said to their faces. I know the things her biological father has endured over the years. I know the things that I endured as a result of being in a relationship with her biological father. I know that our country is a long, long way away from racial harmony and equality. That saddens me to no end. I chose her family because they already had experience with biracial children. But experience in raising them doesn’t mean that those children won’t have mean things said to and/or done to them. It is my hope and wish that she will be able to use her above-wished-for self-confidence to combat anything that is said or done.
12. Adoption issues. HA! Well, I can hope, pray and wish, right? Quite frankly, due to the substandard “counseling” I received prior to placement, I didn’t even know that some adoptees have issues with their relinquishment or attached to their placement. I thought everything was happy-go-lucky for the child. (Ugh.) I know now that is not always the truth. And so, my wish would be for my daughter to have a well-rounded approach to her adoption issues. That’s why I work so hard to be a presence in her life. I want her to know that she was always loved and always wanted despite what others want her to believe. Her parents want the same things for her. Furthermore, I want to be always available to her should she need to discuss things about her adoption. I won’t turn her away like other birth mothers have done to their relinquished children. I will always be there, even if she needs time and space, just a phone call’s distance away. When/if she takes issue with the adoption, me, or anything attached to it, I hope she knows that she will always have my unconditional love and support.
13. An unplanned pregnancy. What? Does this surprise you? First and foremost, the presence of this point on this list doesn’t mean that I didn’t want my daughter. I wanted her, with every ounce of my being, from the moment I knew she existed. But it was a hard, hard time in my life. I was alone. I was scared. I was very ill at the time. And I don’t want those things for my daughter. However, if she does experience such a thing, I know that her parents would be 100% supportive and I would always be available to lend an ear, advice or a shoulder to cry on.
I don’t think my list differs much from any other parent maybe minus some of the reasoning behind certain ones. I simply want for my daughter to reach adulthood and have a well-rounded outlook. I don’t need for her to be perfect. She doesn’t even need to have a perfect childhood, set of grades or hair style. My biggest hope for her is to be happy. It’s a long, hard road for anyone to find happiness. (Trust me! I know!) I know that’s a “big” wish for her but she’s a pretty amazing girl. I have high hopes for her, her future and, yes, our future.
Fore more Thursday Thirteen on the birth/first parent blog, read these posts.