Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meant to Be

I've never said my son was 'meant to be' part of our family. I have a hard time even considering it in my most private thoughts. Saying that he was meant to be with us sounds an awful lot like saying he was meant to lose his parents, his roots, his culture, his language, his Korean citizenship. No matter how I could try to slice it (rationalize), I just don't, can't, and won't believe it.

The meant-to-be conversation about adoption occupies a lot of my quiet thoughts, nonetheless, because acknowledging that my son wasn't meant to lose everything and wasn't necessarily meant to be my son, means that, since he has indeed been relinquished and adopted, he is currently (and is henceforth going to be) living a life he wasn't meant to live.

Doesn't it?

What does that mean for him? For my relationship with him (and by that I mean what are my responsibilities specific to this concept)? These are the questions I struggle with. I care relatively little about whether or not APs say 'gotcha day' or whether or not they circumcize their children, or whether or not they feed their babies peanuts at age 1 or age 3. When it comes to adoptive parenting, I'd much rather learn about these concepts that are bound to be all-consuming - - for my son, 'who am I?' and for me as his adoptive mother, 'how can I best support you?'

As a child, my thoughts would sometimes wander in daydreams such as what would it be like if they told me I was adopted? Maybe my real parents are gorgeous/handsome rich folks who spend their days traveling the world (going to every exciting destination, of course) with their children. Maybe I'm meant to be living in a mansion. Maybe I would have 20 Cabbage Patch Kids and plenty of Jordache jeans and charm necklaces, like my friend Nikki. Maybe I would live near the ocean instead of in the boring old midwest. My little fantasies were interesting to ponder, but in the end I had the security of knowing that I was pretty much right where I belonged ~ or at least that there was no real possibility that I ever had a chance of being anywhere else. It was pretty obvious that I was meant to be in the family I was being raised in. And that reality was comforting.

I feel like there is just no way that I can provide that security of knowing you are where you belong, for my son. When he so much as looks in the mirror, his own reflection will tell him that he is not where nature apparently intended him to be. I struggle with it. While many of my fellow adoptive parents are somehow able to claim they forget which of their children is adopted, I still, after almost two and a half years, hold my son in my arms and when I look into his eyes I am only filled with questions. Who are you? Who are you/were you meant to be? What can I do to show my love, my support, my commitment, even though it's possible that we are not meant to call each other 'son' and 'mama'? How can I help you feel that sense of security that *I* had as a child, that sense of belonging where one is - when, in my mind, you are a sweet baby boy who is meant to be growing up in Korea with your Omma?

And what shall I tell him in the future? "You were meant to be a part of our family" isn't working for me right now as any kind of concession for everything that has been taken from him.


At 8:04 AM , Blogger 3rd generation adoption said...

Your thoughts, concerns and candid self-examination prove you are a wonderful adoptive parent. Meant-to-be will come and go depending on the time, the situation and the emotion. As an adoptee, meant-to-be was mostly a disappointment until I left my adoptive family. As I grew outside the home, I've come to realize that tragedy and calamity are just part of my life. Was that meant-to-be? I'd have much rather been born to a millionaire's life and be raised in leadership and groomed to captain the ship when my time came. Ain't gonna happen. Yet hardship and tragedy have made me who I am. I lean on noone, I trust only a tiny few and I'm now learning to be an adoptive father of conspicuous children (Guatemalan twins) who will get to grow up in a life I'm sure they will at many times perceive as one not "meant-to-be".

Your unconditional love for your son will win out over all issues and deep emotional concerns we struggle with. I have no heritage, no tradition, no family members to give my twins. My best friends are their adopted uncles and aunts. (I was adopted by old parents and they are all deceased.) They have me, my wife and our unconditional love. They have all the openness they will ever need and they have the freedom to fly wherever they choose to fly as they discover life as an adoptee. My only advice is to not slight your love and desire to be there for him and to try and understand him. You cannot go where he will go, but you can hold his hand, assure him that you are with him in spirit and you have his back.

At 3:50 PM , Blogger Paula O. said...

Truthful and brave post. I can identify with so much of it.
Thank you, Zoe, for your words.

At 4:25 AM , Blogger cloudscome said...

I am thinking of the story of Joseph in the Bible. When his brothers came to find him in Egypt after they had sold him into slavery he told them "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." What bad things happened to bring us to this place don't take away from the joy of being the family we are together now.

I can compare it to concieving my first child from rape. Rape is a horrible crime you would never want to happen; the child that is born is perfect and wonderful and I would never want him not to be here and be mine. Is my son "meant to be" mine? Yes. Did God want me to be raped to concieve him? No. God wants only good. It's one of those things we can't explain but we live with. The good of adoption comes bundled with the tragedy. We still cherish the good and rejoice in our children.

At 7:53 AM , Blogger Momma Bear said...

I don't believe anything is "meant-to-be." Things happen, some bad some good. Through the adoptio process I was bombarded with the "it was meant to be" thing. If someone lost a referral then it was, "Well, it wasn't meant to be." I cannot imagine my world without my precious girl. But, if I had been matched with a different child, I doubt I'd be looking at her going, "No, that's not right." The reality is that there are children who need (I know need is not always the right word) homes and people who want to be parents and the way those two groups come together is not fate or God's plan or anything else. But, so what. My daughter is the miracle of my life. Her seperation from her mother was certainly no miracle but the fact that I get to raise her is a miracle. My boys could never have ended up anywhere but with me. They were born to me. If not for me they would not exist. But, my sweet girl could have ended up anywhere after her mother relinquished her. She spent nearly two year in an institution before coming home with us. I think it is chance that she ended up with us. That makes her no less the miracle of my life and it also doesn't erase the injustice done to her when she was seperated from her mother. Am I making sense. Yikes I feel like I ramble.

At 9:04 AM , Blogger Kahlan said...

Sigh... I am not one who believes in fate or "meant-to-be". I honestly hate that rhetoric in adoption circles. I know people mean well.

At 5:43 PM , Blogger Third Mom said...

Zoe, this is a beautiful description of the paradox of adoption. The older my children get, and me too, the more real that paradox becomes. I don't think I'll ever have an explanation for it, and don't really think such an explanation exists.

It simple is adoption, and the best we can do is acknowledge it, accept it, and nurture our children through it.

Best :)

At 12:45 PM , Blogger One Lucky Bastard said...

Zoe, thank you! I wish more adoptive parents could see it this way. It's so much more respectful to the adoptee than this whole "meant to be" thing, which essentially negates the adoptee's life prior to the adoption. As an adoptee, what you say is affirming.

At 9:46 PM , Blogger Adventurous Eaters said...

I was curious how I might contact you to dicuss reprinting this article on Informed Adoption Advocates ( I have not been able to locate any contact information so that I could email you.


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