Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chinese New Year

Each year the Dad and I sponsor Chinese New Year celebrations in each of the girls' classes. I read a story, figure out a craft and usually we bring in some very tame dim sum for the kids to try. Most of the kids refuse it, but a few kids think it's the best day of the year.

This year had a totally different spin in La Nina's class. Her classmates were completely clued into the fact she's adopted from China. At 7, 8 and 9, kids have figured out she doesn't look like us. They've started asking questions, which are completely natural. And they've possibly developed some biases about race. This is a potentially scary time in La Nina's life.

This year before I went into the class, I put a load of thought into how to handle adoption questions should they come up. The first person I consulted was La Nina. I asked her if adoption came up, what would she like me to say?

"Nothing," she answered.

"Nothing?" I asked.

"Absolutely, nothing," she said certainly.

Okay, fair enough. It's her story. She should control what her class hears and if she says nothing, nothing it is. However, the reality is "nothing" would make kids more curious and I didn't want my answer to make her life worse, I wanted to make it better.

I talked to the Dad. We both agreed that whatever the questions were, our first priority should be La Nina's privacy. Yet I would have to acknowledge La Nina was adopted. These kids aren't dumb. If both the Dad and I are in a room with her, her adoption is pretty obvious. Our second priority should be to send the message La Nina was loved dearly. But how to get all that across to a group of squirmy kids? I didn't want to talk over their heads. I didn't want to sound like a stiff boring grownup. I wanted to gently persuade them adoption was okay. I wanted them to know that it was okay to ask questions, and I wanted La Nina to know it's okay not to answer questions. Yikes, how to do this in 3 minutes or less? The whole thing made me want to cancel the party, but I knew La Nina was looking forward to it.

I spent the hour before our party running through scenarios, and when I finally came up with my spin, I actually practiced it two or three times in front of the mirror. I was hopeful that I was wrong. That the kids wouldn't ask me anything and it would be standard Chinese New Year party.

Yet as soon as I sat down to read my book about how the Chinese Zodiac was put together, a kid asked if La Nina was adopted. So, here's my answer for all the adoptive parents who read this blog. After I said this, La Nina blushed but I received not one other question on anything but Chinese New Year. (Because this is written, it sounds much better than it did when I delivered it.)

"I'm not here to discuss how La Nina joined our family. We consider that a private matter. But let me tell you something about adoption in general. Adoption is a very special and a really cool thing. La Nina's Dad and I are very lucky to have gotten the chance to adopt not once, but twice. We are very proud La Nina and her sister are our daughters and we love them very, very much."

La Nina later told me she like my answer and in the end, that's all that matters.

PS I asked the Magster how to handle the same questions if I got them. (This was theoretical, we had already had her party and there were no issues.) She said next year she wants to bring her photo album, her quilt, her adoption certificate, her referral pictures, etc. Privacy was the least of her concerns. I don't know if that makes it easier or harder.


  • At 8:59 AM , Blogger Marci said...

    That's a great response! They are lucky to have such a smart mom who is able to answer the classmate's question and respect her daughter's privacy at the same time!

  • At 9:17 AM , Blogger Ani said...

    Your answer rocked! And it made me tear up... And then I read Maggie's PS and just burst out laughing :) Thanks for sharing.

  • At 5:48 PM , Blogger One Lucky Mom said...

    Give me the birds and the bees question any day. Biology is cut and dry. We all know how it works. Adoption questions are much, much harder. Especially in public. Especially with little feelings on the line. I think way longer and harder about how to answer anything adoption related than I do about anything else. I just hope in the long run, my answer holds up.

  • At 11:45 PM , Blogger Welshie said...

    I cried when I read your answer .... so well thought out and just, well, lovely x


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home