Parents are parents and they think about their children all the time. Whether you’ve adopted or given birth, your role is one of protector, teacher, and nurturer. In this role, you see everyday life through your eyes and the eyes of your child. You manage activities, meal plans, play dates, household affairs, family, friends, and community, and are always aware of the external environment surrounding your child and family.
Part of this three-ring circus is to keep your eyes on the ball at all times. Sometimes it sits quietly on the floor. Sometimes it is thrown into the air. Sometimes it is foisted onto a trapeze and flies high. But you NEVER take your eyes off the ball.
In your vigilance, you watch how each toss of the ball affects you and your child. You compare what you know with what you suspect. You sort through the options and choose carefully for what seems appropriate at any moment.
For adoptive parents, the adoption interweaves through daily activities. Sometimes you let it lie dormant. Sometimes you respond to a comment from your child, family, friend, acquaintance, or stranger. Sometimes you raise the issue and choose to throw adoption into the arena to be noticed.
It is common to think about birth parents when your child does something that seems alien to you. Perhaps she has a special talent that is not learned from you. She has an interest that does not match yours. Her behavior is not in sync with the norm in your family. It is not uncommon to think of birth parents when your child does something wonderful and you want to tell everyone who would care. She learned to play the piano. She sings like an angel. She won a prize. She had a birthday. It is also common to think of birth parents on Mother’s and Father’s Day, the day your adoption was finalized, and the day you first met your child or got your referral.
Thinking about the birth parents on any of these occasions or at other times is okay. It is more than okay. It is expected. It does not mean you are less attached to your child. It does not mean you are any less of a parent. It is actually a sign of parental strength that you are recognizing an important part of who your child is -- for all adopted children are a mix of nature and nurture.
Rejoice in your ability to be your child’s best advocate. You are able to see all sides of your child. You are the ringmaster. You can bring the members of the troupe out of the shadows. You can allow thoughts and feelings to be expressed, and some of you may even want to have your child’s birth family be part of your life and decision-making process.
If you need a lesson or two, ask for help from an informed counselor or from other parents who have successfully stepped into the ring. You can learn to juggle all the balls, and know when to grab one or let another fly.
So, will you think about adoption? Yes. But rather than worry about it, help your child and family embrace it.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW, has been Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA since 1992. For over 26 years, Ametz has helped singles and couples before and during the adoption process; as well as the day-to-day living once you adopt. Services include adoption homestudies, educational workshops, support groups, an annual conference, and Professional Training Institute. Kathy is an Advisory Board Member of AFA, was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001, and is the main contributor to Ametz’s monthly e-news. She formed her family through adoption. Kathy can be reached at or www.jccany.org/ametz. You can also follow her on TWITTER http://twitter.com/ KathyAnnBrodsky