Our son Ben is adopted. Adoption is part of our family’s story, but it’s not the whole story, so it’s not something we talk about a whole lot, or emphasize. If it comes up, fine, we certainly don’t hide it, but it’s just not an every day focus for us. I know that other adoptive families have chosen to handle it differently, but this has been our approach.
I haven’t had many – if any – rude comments from strangers regarding adoption. I suppose that’s because Ben looks quite a bit like Wayne. The fact that Ben is adopted is not as obvious in our family as it is in, say, a blonde family who adopts an Asian child.
This week, for the first time, it came up in a hurtful way.
As I was saying good night to Ben, he asked, “Mommy? Why did you guys adopt me?”
My mind raced with ways to answer. Did he mean why did we decide to adopt at all? Why did we choose him specifically? I started to form an answer but he interrupted to explain.
He said some neighbor kids were talking about where they were born, and this led to mentioning that he was adopted.
“And then Max said my parents didn’t want me and that’s why you had to adopt me.”
I sat there with my mouth hanging open, stunned. To be honest, I was seized with the immediate desire to go knock on Max’s door and punch him in the mouth. What on earth would possess a child to say such a thing?
A few sentences of comfort and explanation from me seemed to be all Ben needed that night. Just a few words to refute the unkind, untrue, unconsidered words from the neighbor kid.
I imagine there will be other incidents like this in the coming years. May we have the needed wisdom to help him process and understand his story.
And grace enough not to punch the ones who hurt him along the way.