4 Things Adoptive Families Might Have In Common

You know you’re an adoptive parent if you dread school assignments that involve the “family tree.”

My brother is adopted. Three of my cousins are adopted. It was a normal part of “how you got kids” when I was growing up. I got married at the tender age of 42 and the fertility ship had sailed. I have a biological daughter, but when the question of adding more kids to our family came up, my husband and I decided adoption was the answer.

Here are four things parents who have come to parenthood through adoption might relate to:

You know you’re an adoptive parent when you have an arsenal of canned responses to any question or comment that resembles the following:

“…are they all yours, are they brothers, I mean real brothers, what happened to their real mother, how much did they cost, can’t you have any of your own, do they know they’re adopted, are you afraid they’ll turn out to be crazy, my friend’s sister adopted from Russia and that kid was cuh-ray-zee, we adopted a dog so I totally get what you’re going through, now that you’ve adopted you’ll get pregnant they’re so lucky…”

Your mileage will vary based on your mood, time of the month, how much caffeine or chocolate you’ve consumed, and your perception of the question-asker’s motives. Someone genuinely interested in adoption is probably going to get a different response than a straight-up nosy old biddy in the pet food aisle.

You know you’re an adoptive parent when you spend the night before Mother’s Day quietly celebrating another woman who is the reason your kids call you mommy. 

You might have an open adoption. You might know nothing about the woman who chose life for your child. You spend time before church, brunch, or opening presents made from pipe cleaners and elbow macaroni thinking about a woman who made sacrifices so you could be a mom. You might know her name, her face, or her Twitter handle (although I think the Twitter thing would be awkward). You might know nothing, zip, zero. Regardless, this woman holds a special place in your heart and you think about her every Mother’s Day.

You know you’re an adoptive parent if you dread school assignments that involve the “family tree.”

Adopted children may (or may not) want to include the genealogy of their birth families. If they do, they’re singled out. They might want to include this info but might not have it. This assignment may conjure up hurt or feelings of loss and spark difficult conversations at home.

My kids were adopted when they were toddlers. I don’t have baby pictures, and this makes “baby picture day” uncomfortable. I don’t know how old they were when they took their first steps or said their first words. When the time comes to plot these kinds of milestones as a lesson on how to chart and graph, I’m not sure what we’ll do. We’ll figure that out as we go along, I guess.

You know you’re an adoptive parent when quotes like this make you tear up:

“You may not have my eyes or my smile, but from the beginning, you had my heart.”

“Not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone, but still…miraculously…my own.”

“Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it.”

And if that doesn’t give you at least a little tear, you must be a card-carrying member of the Tin Woodsman “I don’t have a heart” club.

Jill Robbins is a wannabe wine snob and sometime runner from San Antonio, Texas. She has a degree in social psychology which has so far been unhelpful in understanding the behavior of her husband and three children. She writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Jill is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Blunt Moms Babble, and Mamalode.  She’s also been published in The Washington Post’s On Parenting and is a proud member of the 2015 cast of Listen to Your Mother, Austin. Her work has also been featured on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia Voices, In the Powder Room, SheKnows Parenting, Midlife Boulevard, Beyond Your Blog and other places around the internet. Her print publications include the December 2014 issue of Mamalode and three upcoming anthologies about motherhood. She someday hopes to write the books that are living in her head. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.

This originally appeared on Ripped Jeans & Bifocals. Republished here with permission.

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