(Title apologies to Alan Sillitoe)
Readers, I’ve been feeling morose lately. I’m not quite sure why. I’m fairly sure it’s hormonal and maybe to do with those crazy chemicals rushing around my body, or work being a bit full on and then easing off, or breastfeeding slowing down a bit… or something.
In one way I’m my usual deliriously happy self. B is an absolute joy. I can’t believe I still have him, and get to be his mama, and all that stuff. I mean it’s like a little injection of happiness to every single day.
It’s not that I’m particularly unhappy with life. It’s just that now and again I feel a bit morose and this week happens to be it. Maybe it’s that the weekend went too fast, because we went to see both sets of grandparents and didn’t really get much downtime with just our little family.
Maybe it’s the work thing. Work’s going really well. I feel lucky to have landed a boss who I get on really well with and I mainly enjoy the work. But the gigantic bid I was working on hasn’t transpired yet and my boss wants me to go back to a day job (a decent job I can’t complain about – I’ve just been very full on with the bid for months and months and it takes up a lot of energy, so it feels a bit of an anticlimax to be tailing off that…)
I definitely think social media has something to do with it. I recently took a break from a big adoption group I’m very involved in. It’s something I keep meaning to write about but never seem to have the emotional energy. I’ve mentioned before that I kind of ebb and flow with it. Which makes me sound ambivalent but really it’s not that – it’s about self care and realising you can’t be on high emotional alert all the time.
The big adoption story in the news is something that those not in adoptionland probably aren’t aware of, but something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. And very upsetting to many transracial adoptees.
A couple of white adoptive mothers drove a car off a cliff, killing their six black adopted children. It transpired they had been somewhat evasive of CPS and concerns had been raised in multiple states. And one of the mothers had already been convicted of hurting one of the little girls who’d been beaten black and blue over the edge of a bathtub. Who does that to a child?
Moreover, one of the children was Devonte Hart, whose picture went viral when he was pictured crying and hugging a policeman. Anyone who knows anything about racial justice would notice the peculiarity of a black boy hugging a white policeman for the cameras – egged on by his white adoptive parents.
The more facts that come out about this story, the more hurt and triggers are piled up. As transracial adoptees we know that the narrative is heavily skewed in favour of white adoptive parents. And so much of the time that is manifested in benefit of the doubt and excuse making. It is upsetting because of the sheer amount of loss these young adoptees had. And to end their lives at the hands of those who called themselves their parents; the people who were meant to love them.
And the fact that there are many injustices still being perpetuated against adoptees, such as access to basic medical records and original birth certificates.
I guess you could say over time I’ve become awoken to these injustices. Part of me wishes I’d just stayed blissfully ignorant.
So – self care and social media. I’ve tried to take breaks but I find that it can be somewhat addictive. If I’m trying to stay away, I tend to hang out more in the Disney groups because how horrible can people be when it comes to Disney?! (It turns out you still do get mean people in all groups… sad!)
Mum groups can be one of the worst. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have felt really at odds since I went back to work and most of the mums I knew didn’t. It’s a lonely path to tread.
Mum groups online are kind of vicious. Even the ones that are meant to be non-judgemental and supportive. They have reams of nice supportive comments and then you’ll get the odd mean one, and depending on the day I find that can get me down (even though I don’t tend to post on them very often – I only try and comment supportively now and again). But anything based around an ideology, like motherhood is… well, it can be taxing.
Breastfed vs formula fed
Gentle parenting vs Cry It Out
Working mums vs SAHMs vs part time working mums
Only children vs sibling groups
It’s like everything mum related is shrouded in judgement. And maybe you join online groups looking for likeminded people because there aren’t that many in real life, but then they end up making you feel all heckled and I just wonder sometimes if it’s worth it.
Real life is another story. I do have some working mum friends because we have met other working mums through nursery (daycare). And it’s nice to see them because it makes me feel a bit less of an odd one out for working. The sad thing is, I think the SAHMs think I’m somehow competing with them or something when really I would have preferred not to go back to work! It kind of blows my mind I’ve been back for almost a year when if I’d had maternity leave like most people in the UK do, I would only just have gone back.
My NCT (antenatal) group makes me wonder as well. Out of seven mums in the only one to have gone back to work full time, and I feel like a completely odd one out. And I wonder if there’s any point in keeping on that friendship / contact when I usually end up feeling pretty negative about it.
An example (feel free to skip as I’m just venting here):
Before Christmas they wanted to have a meet up, and so I offered to book somewhere for a Christmas dinner, and we’d get the babies all dressed up and so on. They all agreed. Then when we had agreed a date, I got the details of the local pub and because it was Christmas they wanted us to pre-order, and give a deposit. Out of six other couples who had agreed, only two sent through the deposit and the other four just didn’t say anything. Nothing (on a whatsapp group). In the end I cancelled it. They didn’t even apologise. Just ignored it. In the end, the three couples who had agreed to meet had a meet up, plus one other couple. The others didn’t bother.
So now it’s April and they decided we should meet up. One of the girls (SAHM who quit her job after the baby was born and has got super involved in all the local baby stuff) decided to organise it. And found various non child friendly places. Bear in mind this involves seven kids. I found a place with a kids play area and high chairs and instead she decided we would go to a pub and the kids would just sit on our laps or whatever, and we would go for Sunday roast at the only time they have available… 11:30.
Then she says we all have to pre order and pay a deposit. Sound familiar? And of course everyone replies and says yes sure. That’s fine.
Just writing this out makes me feel super petty and ridiculous. I mean I shouldn’t even care. But I said it to T and he said he could understand why I’d feel upset. I mean the same people literally didn’t bother replying to me over the Christmas thing that they asked me to organise, and yet they’re falling over themselves to say yes to this arrangement of eating a roast on a Sunday morning. So strange.
I think maybe I’m just overly emotional lately because I don’t know what. (Hormones? Periods? I have to say I’m not happy about the Return of the Blob. It’s extremely unedifying.)
Also I had a health check at work because someone didn’t show up and the Health Champion guy really wanted someone to do it, so I did it. And I got weighed for the first time in forever and realised that I’m overweight and by way more than I want to be – 10kg minimum, and I suppose that sent me down a slight rabbit hole I had been avoiding. I finally dropped the habit of daily weighing when I was pregnant (after a slightly unhelpful obsession since my teens) and so getting back to that has mainly annoyed and upset me.
And I do wonder how much of it’s to do with breastfeeding. I have long thought it has an effect on mood. B is still nursing but less often now. Usually morning and night and I have one pumping session in between. So I’m sure that affects me. I know that pumping always made me kind of depressed and now he’s able to go longer between feeds even at the weekends, perhaps that’s depressing my mood a bit. (Don’t get me wrong. We still have fun. It’s impossible not to smile when you see a one year old’s joy on a swing.) Maybe I just need to ground myself more and try and rationalise it when I feel a bit low.
In the run of bad news, a close friend found out her husband of many years had cheated on her for the second time. I met up with her for a girly day and I just felt so sad for her. Two of my friends are battling cancer. One terminal. The world just seems kind of shitty some days.
Finally I guess I’m just feeling a bit run down and missing something. Maybe that’s it. Hay fever season is coming upon us and I feel a bit worse for wear. And I think often when you’ve been working hard and you suddenly ease up, that’s when it hits you. I feel kind of sad sometimes that I have to work and so I don’t get to see as much of my family as I’d like. I have such a wonderful time at the weekend that it maybe hits me hard when I have to go back to work on a Monday.
I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish with this post. I suppose catharsis.
I think what I mean to say is that I could have everything I ever wanted – and I do – but I still have down days sometimes, and today is one of them.
But right now I’m lying in bed – our superking sized giant mattress – and next to me is my little snorting baby-who’s-now-a-toddler, and further down the bed is my big boy Dog who’s turning five tomorrow, and on the other side is my partner T, my best friend, who I too often take for granted. And we are in my absolute dream apartment. I love it, with its little terrace, and summer is coming so we can spend more time outside and it’ll be lovely.
Today I have the blues but tomorrow is one step closer to the weekend…
I never seem to manage to make the time to blog much any more, and that’s a perfect microcosm of how it feels to be a working mother – there’s never enough time for anything. Which is crazy, because I have a million unwritten blog posts swirling in my head. Many of which are about the strange hinterland that is being a working mum (mom!) after years of infertility.
First things first: I am so grateful to be here. I still do a double take every single day when I wake up next to my beautiful boy and I realise that somehow, after all the struggle, I am a mother. How did this happen?, swirls through my mind every day. I thank all those people silently who helped that dream become a reality. And I don’t easily forget all the years where it didn’t seem possible.
Second things second: Being a mother after infertility is a strange thing to be… I feel like it’s almost a different thing from being a “normal” mother. I don’t think we post infertiles ever really forget the deep grief and fear, the joy-pain of pregnancy after loss, the hoping and wishing that something will go right after so many wrongs. My overwhelming emotion most of the time is deep joy and gratitude that I have managed to have this experience of carrying and giving birth to a human being… my first known biological relative.
Which brings me to the third point: Having a child after being adopted [in a closed adoption] is a huge thing. It’s monumental. Having a child after having been transracially, transnationally adopted – if you weren’t, you can’t even begin to comprehend the profundity of it. I couldn’t, before it happened to me, despite that person being me.
To look into my baby’s face and recognise my own – to feel that deep kinship, to feel joined to someone else when it has never happened before in my living memory – it’s the most gut wrenching joy-pain you can imagine. To realise what I lost as a baby. To realise what I’ve gained through having my baby. To realise my birth culture and language is lost to me and I can’t pass it on to him… To realise that matters – even despite the joy. To live in that complexity where joy can coexist with grief and loss.*
Of course – I don’t want to put that on him. He has no responsibility other than being my baby doing babyish things and hopefully drawing as much joy out of life as a baby can inhale. And yet – he is everything.
(*I already knew what I’d gained – prevailing adoption narratives always focus more on gain than loss. I can be happy and adopted and have suffered deep loss all at the same time. That’s adoption complexity for you.)
Fourthly: After so many other “Not like the other” categories, Working Mother has to be the most stark. I genuinely never knew that the battle lines of Motherhood were so entrenched. And none more than Stay At Home Mother vs Working Mother. I never wanted to be caught up in these battles, any more than I wanted to define myself by Crunchy Mom vs Gina Ford Mom, or Breastfeeding Mum vs Fed is Best Mum – and yet, if there’s one thing mothers seem to like doing, it’s defining themselves as a Mum Type. (I’m Haphazard, Intuitive Mum… completely disorganised and completely in love. That’s all really.) I realise in so many spaces I don’t really fit in. And the (relative) loss of my antenatal buddies – who fell by the wayside as soon as I went back to work – felt like a rejection of the old school kind. (And that’s not even to get into the whiteness of motherhood… and how that makes a transracial adoptee feel. A complex subject for another day!)
And yet, I think we’ve settled into our own niche. I’ve found mum friends – some of whom will probably last and some of whom probably won’t. Quite honestly, it’s hard to cultivate friendships when you work full time and other mums seem to have endless pools of time to do Mum things and they use their weekends to catch up with their husbands… My baby is at nursery during the week and so even if I’m working from home, I can’t really meet mum friends, because why would I want to go and spend time with someone else’s baby when mine is in daycare? Like I said, it’s a strange hinterland and we find our own way.
I have made some Mum buddies whose kids go to our nursery – their kids are a bit older, because I had to go back to work so soon. But it’s good because we have more in common. (I’m the terrible one feeding my child Ella’s Kitchen premade pouches instead of developing a varied baby menu and posting pictures of tot cuisine to our whatsapp groups. Our working mums group is a safe space for all of us who’ve ended up rushing across town all sweaty to grab our babies at the last possible minute. No Lingo Tots or prosecco in the play park for us!)
The thing is, I wish I could join those other mums. I’d love to be a stay at home mum, for even a time, and I find myself wondering whether it’s possible to have it all, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t – something has got to give. For working mums, it’s missing out on all the mundane stuff that our SAHM friends take for granted. The idea I might not see my child’s first steps.
Which brings me to: The Dilemma.
I’m doing not too badly in my job. Weirdly… It always makes me a little nervous when things are going well because I’m primed to feel like something is bound to go wrong. But I’ve managed to develop a great working relationship with my boss (the one I wasn’t happy that my old boss – who I love in a work platonic way – put in place). We seem to be quite symbiotic and complementary and work well as a team. And I am lucky that what I’m doing right now means I have the flexibility to work from home a fair amount and to continue breastfeeding/ pumping. (11 months next week. How did that happen?!) It’s important to me that I am able to do that. And coincidentally, I also get paid more than I ever did before, and my working hours are more reasonable. I honestly don’t know how that happened. I like to think it’s my karmic reward for putting up with so much **** in my old job!
Let’s not beat around the bush – I’m the main breadwinner. By a lot. I get paid almost double what T gets paid. We were lucky enough to have an offer accepted on our dream flat this year and it’s my salary that enabled us to get the mortgage (plus a fair bit of help from my parents with the deposit). So I need to work to continue to provide for our family. T is an awesome partner as he’s much more organised than I am and he figures out everything we need to do domestically. I just have one job – to earn the money. (Well, and to feed B!) Doing what I do helps keep us afloat. And getting promoted, earning more and doing well would help us reach our sweet spot (pay off debts and mortgage) sooner.
Our company is having a leadership summit in January, and I received an invitation. It’s a long way away – a transatlantic flight away. It goes on for four days plus travel. And only approved people get invited.
I got an invitation. It’s a big deal.
I asked my big boss if there was a mistake. (Surely not me!) My manager wasn’t sure either… She said our big boss had to approve all names so I must have been invited, but maybe not.
I emailed him to check there hadn’t been an error.
He called me. No error. I’m invited. “As a member of the leadership team.” Of course! (I’m like the most junior person in the team. They’re all one or two grades above me, or in his case, four!)
And when is this conference? Smack bang over my baby’s very first birthday.
He told me, You don’t have to come. Let me know and if you don’t want to, I’ll give your space to Andy. (Andy is another relatively junior member of the team. Hopefully not as well regarded as me.)
All the global leadership will be there… It’ll be a great networking opportunity. All expenses paid.
And… It’s my baby’s first birthday.
T says, He won’t know. We can move it a couple of days and celebrate then. I say, But I’ll know. I’d be on the other side of the world when my baby turns one.
My manager has asked me to work on a big piece of work over that time anyway, so the decision may yet be taken out of my hands, but the summit probably takes priority – if I want to go.
Every few minutes I change my mind about what is an obvious decision. And it comes back to my multiple identities and how the “obvious” answer changes according to which identity I’m cloaking myself in at the time. I am a mother. I am a working mother. I’m an adoptee whose baby is the most important person in the world to me. I am a mother after loss who realises how precious those small mundane things are. I am a transnational, transracial adoptee who finally made a family. I’m someone who was cut off from her roots who invests a huge amount emotionally in birthdays because they are the only link to my past.
I am all those things and I am my baby’s mother and I am a great worker and I want to do well so I can provide for him and make him safe, keep a roof over his head, keep him happy.
But he is not me. B is not me. He is himself, and he’s wonderful and joyous and giggly and amazing and cute. He doesn’t need to be anything for me, but I need to be everything for him.
How do we ever resolve our multiple identities? How do we decide what is best?
I don’t know if we ever can, but I’m going to have to try…
…sometimes I can’t find the words. And Facebook is such an instant kind of interaction whereas blogging has some sort of responsibility associated with it, to have a subject or theme rather than just stream of consciousness rambling… (although anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will be used to that!).
I guess it’s a bit hard to think of pithy subjects for blog posts when there’s such a lot going on in the world. And I have a lot of other outlets for discussing that, and others have done it far more justice than I ever could, so I’ll just say I’m saddened and kind of scared with what’s going on right now. It makes me wonder if one day in future we will look back on these days and think they were peace time. I hope that isn’t the case.
We all have a responsibility to speak out. As a transracial adoptee I feel my “foreignness” more than most people, and I’m astounded and saddened by what is happening in America now.
B turned seven months old! I can’t believe my baby is over half a year old. It’s gone by so quickly. I’m sure this happens to every parent but I feel like this time I’m sort of at peak love with him. Although probably next month I’ll think I love him even more. He’s at a great age now where he gives a fair amount of feedback, smiling and giggling, and he’s almost confident at sitting up (only falling over occasionally and slowly) and trying to crawl (but only succeeding in moving backwards, generally under the sofa). He’s tried food but doesn’t like it much. Which means: We’ve now reached seven months of breastfeeding!
One of my biggest surprises about this entire journey is how much I’ve enjoyed breastfeeding. I started out thinking I’d probably end up doing formula, because my body manages to cock up everything else, but for some reason I seem to be made to nurse my baby.
It’s an amazing feeling to think that my milk has nourished him to seven months. And he’s really pretty healthy. He’s quite big for his age – we know other babies who are a few months older and he doesn’t look significantly smaller. And aside from the occasional snotty nose and nursery bug, he’s been really well.
Also as an adoptee who wasn’t breastfed, I feel that it’s a very healing thing to be able to nurse my own biological baby. That’s not to say I wish I’d been breastfed. I really find that difficult as a concept from an adoption standpoint. We have had many discussions about it in adoption groups – suffice to say that pretty much all the adoptees were against it and all the people supporting it were adoptive parents. It’s a very emotive subject for adoptees and led to me deciding to leave my local LLL group. (I really support breastfeeding but adoptive breastfeeding is something else. I understand different people have different views and I can only speak for mine as an adult transracial adoptee, that it is deeply taboo in our community.) It’s a shame as we have had such a good breastfeeding experience and I was thinking of becoming a peer supporter. But still – we are still enjoying it and will probably end up doing the extended breastfeeding unless he decides to wean himself earlier! I’m not particularly worried as I guess most 15 year olds aren’t into it!
We are starting to wean B, but we are a bit lacksadaisical about it. We wanted to do baby led weaning, but he really isn’t very interested in food, so we’ve ended up doing some mush as well. I have to say I’m grossed out by mush. Especially banana. I hate bananas but it turns out babies love them. B doesn’t seem averse although he never voluntarily goes for food. He’ll eat mush offered to him on a spoon but stuff in his hand he just waves around. Apart from the baby chocolate biscuit. He’s clearly a man after my own heart.
We decided to hold a naming ceremony. I guess really we would have had a christening but neither of us is religious and so it felt like it would be a bit hypocritical. We wanted to mark B’s entrance to the world somehow… I guess it’s a natural inclination to want some sort of significance to it. Anyway I was going to do it myself and then thought about it and how I’d probably turn to mush and start crying, so I found a humanist celebrant who’s going to do it. Quite excited as we’ve been to humanist weddings in the past and they are really nice and personal. Anyway will have to write more about that on another post!
We are finally completing on our new house! Wow, it’s been an insanely long wait. We first made an offer that was accepted back in April. It’s been a bit frustrating – like what are they actually doing? – but feels amazing to think we will get our dream home this week! I actually feel a little sad for our lovely tiny current flat, but we are keeping it and hope to rent it out. I would love for us to keep it for B so he has some security for when he’s older, but we shall see. The new place isn’t actually a house but another flat very nearby – it’s just that it has a terrace so we will have some outside space, and it has two bedrooms so B can have one of his own! And a slightly bigger living room so he can actually learn to crawl! So exciting. It’s funny when I see people’s homes outside London and they are massive! We have low expectations for space here! I absolutely love London though and can’t really see us moving until much much later. Maybe when we retire to Disney World!
We have booked B’s first Disney trip! Before I was pregnant we went to Disneyland Paris each year during the Christmas season, and last year was the first time we missed it as I was heavily pregnant at Christmas. We decided because we both have our “big” birthdays this year (don’t mention it!) and it’ll be B’s first Christmas that we would go all out. We always go past the Disneyland hotel and sometimes even pop in for a drink or dinner. Well we have booked a posh room there with a park view! So excited. Now to find some good outfits for B…!
Stuff is actually going okay at work. The funny thing is, I made a decision to try and get on with The Woman (my new manager) and actually we’ve been getting on really well. She went on holiday and left me in charge of a piece of work and I caned it (up till 3am one night finishing it!) so I think she appreciated that I was pretty good even though I’m working from home most of the time. So although it’s hard work, I do tend to enjoy working hard periodically. I like that I have other days when I have hardly anything! Anyway it’s sort of nice to be able to take pride in my work!
My sister had her baby! I now have another niece. She was absolutely tiny weeny (a bit over 6lbs) and she’s super skinny… I don’t think B was ever that tiny! She ended up having a really similar experience to mine – ending in an unplanned caesarean. On the flip side she doesn’t really seem super happy about it – I think it has all gotten on top of her. I may have mentioned before she is quite highly strung… So I think the whole thing has traumatised her. I’m hoping that it’s going to pass and she won’t end up having postnatal depression – although I can see it happening. Luckily baby is fine and hopefully with a period of adjustment my sister will get into the swing of things.
I was finally a bridesmaid! They do say, “Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride!” So I kind of thought seeing as I’ve been a bride, maybe never a bridesmaid. Anyway it was such a fun day. Our bridesmaid crew was just the three of us and it was a great experience. I mean really all you have to do is turn up and have your hair and makeup done and wear a dress. It was kind of great. I even managed to nurse in the bridesmaid dress although it was a bit of a “wap ’em out” situation. Also I almost gave people an eyeful during the ceilidh dancing when the boob tube part of the dress came fully down! Fortunately I had some fabric over my boobs but there is no time during Strip the Willow (energetic Scottish country dancing, lots of spinning) to correct it. Ha! It was wonderful to see my friend so happy and to get married to the perfect guy for her. (I take full credit for persuading her to do internet dating!)
I think that’s about up to date with the news. Oh aside from the fact that I woke up today with what feels like horrendous whiplash. How did that happen?! Who knows. I’ve barely been able to move my head all day. I’m in agony. I’ve been taking painkillers in between pumping and feeding (as B is at nursery I have a safe-ish gap) but I am in massive pain. I don’t know how to do make it go away. I have a feeling it’s from side sleeping (co sleeping and feeding during the night) as I tend to get a sore back, but usually that’s manageable lower back pain rather than crippling under neck pain. I had a sports massage which helped a bit but ow!
I guess there was too much good news so I had to have a bit of pain mixed in!
I was looking at old photos of myself on Timehop (God bless Timehop, the regurgitator of past lives!) and realised that I was really skinny. This was something of a surprise to me as I spent a good proportion of my life and most of my adult life feeling fat.
It's like a lot of my old life is something of a shock to me now. I remembered with a jolt the other day that I didn't wear trousers for five years because my ex told me my legs looked a bit like sausages in them. Five years! When did I allow someone else to have such agency over my body?
Even before I met my ex, I think I had some pretty disordered eating. Not quite anorexia – I never really was one for seeing things through – but I did maintain a pretty low body weight that is significantly lower than I am now. (For context: I am around 5'2", and I used to be a UK size 8-10, and now I'm about a UK size 12. Generally not considered "overweight".)
I'm not sure when my disordered eating and strange body image first started. A lot of people (especially girls) start this around puberty, and perhaps that's what happened for me. I think it's a bit deeper than that, though. I was adopted as a baby, transracially, and I grew up around white people so all my life I've looked different from most of the people I was around growing up.
When I went to a predominantly white school, all of this got amplified. I remember that it was a shock because I slowly realised that I was "less than" because of my race. I realised that I was supposed to be blonde haired and blue eyed and I was about as far from that as possible. I started to find myself ugly (and people started to tell me I was ugly to my face). I never had the skinny white girl legs. Mine were muscular and I was just a different build. Really average for my race, as it turns out. But you don't know that as a child if you grow up with people who don't look like you.
Adoption is complex, and I don't know how much of this was tied up in adoption, but I do know I can't separate out being a different race from my overall experience of growing up. My feeling of not fitting in, even though that was all I knew. Anyway, I got kind of chubby. Although looking back, I wasn't chubby. I don't think I was ever actually chubby – I was just short, and not lanky.
Then one time when I was around 16, I went away on a holiday (to learn a language) and when I was there I got pretty sick and I couldn't really eat anything. And I dropped a load of weight. When I got back, suddenly everyone said how amazing I looked because I was skinny. I was suddenly approved of, and I liked it. So I maintained it.
I maintained it for a really long time. The thing is, I'm not naturally meant to be that weight. (It's about 20-30kg lighter than I am now. I don't know exactly how much as I don't know how much I weigh now.) So I got by on some disordered eating that kept me at my magic weight. My magic weight crept up over time… I kept in a 5kg weight range through school, and then it kind of crept up during my time at university, until it was +10kg, and then it was about +15kg in my last few years with IVF and everything. And even +20kg post miscarriage.
For me, I always thought I was "happy" when I was a lower weight. But when I look back, I was always kind of unhappy. I was happy that I'd managed to keep my weight down but I always felt a kind of anxiety about it. I used to weigh myself every day. The number on the scales made me feel like I was achieving something or I was failing something.
When I met T, after I'd split up with my ex – I had to adjust to a new way of being. I was always very controlled with my ex. He wouldn't think he was, but he controlled a lot about me. He had a huge effect on my feelings of self worth (or not). This was someone who had always dated very skinny women and even told me I was the fattest person he'd ever been with. It made me feel pretty bad about myself that I was that. The whole thing with my ex was that I never felt good enough. With T, I felt good enough. He really didn't care about weight. I actually met him when I was still pretty skinny and I piled on the relationship pounds… I let myself go.
I'm still conflicted about how I feel about it, because I recognise that my magic weight wasn't magic at all, but a strange idea of how I was supposed to look. And T tells me he loves me the way I am. But it was hard in the beginning putting on pregnancy weight – not just because of the weight itself, but the fear that it might be for nothing, like our first IVF and pregnancy was.
This pregnancy that gave me B also gave me a lot of weight. Firstly I had to take IVF drugs which make you put on weight. And also I had to take steroids which make you put on weight also. I got to halfway through pregnancy in a state of fear that it wouldn't work out, but then when I got halfway I decided I was going to try my best not to fear it any more.
I also decided to stop weighing myself. I have weighed myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day, since I was a teenager. I even recorded my weight every day in an app so I could see how much weight I put on. It's a bit crazy obsessive.
When I was properly pregnant, I gave myself permission to stop weighing myself. And I let myself relax into the pregnancy.
And you know what?
The strange thing is, I have no doubt I'm at least magic weight +20kg. Possibly +30kg. And I definitely have my moments of feeling a bit concerned about it (especially if I catch a glimpse of myself coming out of the shower – stretch marks and overhang and pendulous mammaries hanging out) but I generally feel absolutely awesome.
I don't know how it works for other people but for me – my body was always this thing that failed me. I wasn't the same as my white friends. I looked different. I was ultimately not enough – I wasn't enough for my birth mother to keep me; I wasn't enough for my ex to love me how I needed to be loved; I wasn't thin enough or attractive enough or whatever.
But having B was like all vanity went out of the window. I love myself now, because I know I'm just the same as anyone else – I'm fallible and imperfect, but my messed up body gave me B and I love myself for that.
I love my ridiculous humungaboobs that feed B like a dream… when his dad "flies" him over to me for a feed, he giggles and opens his mouth to latch on. They may be saggy and baggy but they do exactly what they need to do to feed my baby, and I'm proud I've been able to do that and even to pump for him so he's been exclusively breastfed for his entire life, for half a year.
I love my saggy stomach. (This one requires a bit more imagination!) I love that it carried B safely (even though he needed cutting out at the last minute!). I love that I got to experience being gloriously, amazingly pregnant. I once had a big bump that I never thought I'd get to have, and I grew a human in there, and if it looks like a fleshy deflated balloon well – so be it. My bikini days are over anyway and I have an awesome very flattering swimsuit with tummy panels!
I love my fuller face. (Again this is a hard one!) I love that it's the face that my son loves. His eyes light up when he sees me. He giggles and reaches his arms out. We even had to hide the cushion with my face on because he kept staring at it! Yes, I don't have the cheekbones I used to have but they'll come back one day. Or maybe they won't. But I refuse to hate my face because it looks a little bit like my boy's and I love his.
Anyone who sees me now probably thinks I've "let myself go". And I really have.
I've given myself permission to breathe out. (You kind of have to if you had a caesarean, just saying.)
I've given myself permission to not care. I don't have to listen to the whispering voices of bullies from the past, who said I was fat and ugly. I'm not fat and ugly. I am the size I needed to be to carry my baby into existence. I'm the face of my ancestors, who I'm finally beginning to connect with through adoption forums and same race groups, and I refuse to be ashamed of my non-whiteness because I don't ever want to see that shame in my son's face.
Of course I don't advocate being unhealthy. (Well, chocolate notwithstanding.) The thing is, I'm a size bigger than I was pre-pregnancy. But there's a freedom in letting myself have this. I have told myself I won't diet until I finish breastfeeding. Right now, I don't know when that will be. I want to do at least a year. In fact I'm enjoying it so much (never thought I'd say that!) that I joke I'll do it till he's 15… although I think he might decide to wean himself before then! (We have started baby led weaning but B is not interested in the least… It's a messy business!)
I will start exercising again when I have the time, for sure. But it will be just for myself. I miss the enjoyment I used to get from exercise, a bit, but then we are pretty active as we walk almost everywhere and we have Dog, and he gets us out and about. Plus I do swimming with B once a week, if bobbing around in the shallow end counts. (Yes it does!)
The important thing is that I want B to have a healthy self esteem and be happy. And a huge part of that is having happy healthy parents. I don't want him to see his mother dieting or hating the body that he changed by coming into existence. I don't want him to hate half of his race that came from me. We've taken steps… He's in a diverse nursery in the diverse area we live in. So he will never have the experience of feeling the odd one out, like I did.
And his parents are currently happy together and don't argue that much! (And when they do, it's his mama's fault… Hopefully the hormones will have died down a bit by the time he's more aware!) We are hopefully moving to our new place soon, so he'll even have a bit of outside space. And he has an awesome Dog for a buddy, and a load of new buddies at nursery… Life is good… and we are going to focus on the good things we are grateful for, rather than the bad things we wish we didn't have.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know we are massive Disney fans. We have booked to bring B to Disneyland Paris this year, because even though he won't remember it, it's our happy place (and we will save Orlando and the transatlantic flight for when he's older!). We have been every year apart from last year (heavily pregnant) as a couple and now we're going back as a family.
And of course, one of the best Disney songs ever is from Frozen: Let it Go. I don't tell that many people this, but I can barely ever listen to that song without wanting to cry. It's the perfect song that sums up so much of how I feel. (Which is strangely embarrassing given I'm an almost-40 year old definitely not Scandinavian most likely not a princess archetypally buttoned up British-by-adoption person.)
Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
So here's the thing… I never was perfect. But I was trying to be, and it was exhausting.
And I never realised that all this time I needed to find acceptance. Not from other people, but from myself.
I mentioned a while back that an adoption group I am in nominated me to receive a free DNA test. Some kind donor had donated money for several adoptees to receive DNA testing kits, and they chose me as one of them.
For those of you who aren’t adopted, this is a kind of fun thing… and for those of you who are, you’ll know what a pretty big deal it is. I have written quite a bit about adoption, given that I started this blog primarily to talk about my feelings on infertility and my hopes that maybe one day I’d have a biological child. I guess that thinking about your own fertility (or lack thereof) brings up feelings for adoptees about being adopted.
I know that I could start the search for my biological family. I’ve written about it here before… I am more fortunate than many adoptees that I have my original birth certificate and certificate of adoption signed by my first mother. So it’s not like everything is closed off to me. But right now I’m not yet ready to do that, to ask officials in my birth country to search. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like once B is here that I will feel more ready – more complete? I don’t know. I think if you’re not adopted you won’t understand the feeling of wanting to feel worthy and complete before possibly wanting to try and meet your birth family.
Anyway, the money arrived in my account from the adoption group, and I duly sent off for my DNA test. A few weeks ago, it arrived. I ordered two – one for my sister and one for me. And I sent the one to my sister as an early christmas present – I know it’s really early, but I think maybe she might want to process it or think about it or even not do it, so that’s why I sent it early. Mine has been sitting on the coffee table for a few days. I still haven’t opened it.
I know once I open it that I’ll have to produce some saliva and package it up and send it off. But I don’t know if I’m ready yet. This seems crazy really, because I’ve had 30-something years of life to be ready.
What are the implications?
I will find out what my racial makeup is. I’m pretty sure I know, and it’s fairly obvious from looking at me roughly where I come from, but it will tell me the genetic breakdown.
It will tell me if there are any diseases I’m genetically predisposed to. Most adoptees don’t have a medical history. I’ve always had to say, “I don’t know – I’m adopted.”
Maybe – very long shot – it will tell me if I have any relatives (however distant) who are registered on the database. I can even take the DNA data and register it on other databases and it will tell me if I have a distant cousin, or even a sibling.
So, yeah, the box is here, but I’ve yet to open it.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m a transracial adoptee, and I live in the UK. Fortunately for me, this means that I have British citizenship (as a result of being adopted by British parents) and have had a British passport since I was a baby.
Meanwhile, my fellow transracial / intercountry adoptees in the United States do not all have similar privileges. In fact, 35,000 of them fell between the cracks when Clinton granted post hoc citizenship to adoptees in 2000. This act, the Child Citizenship Act, granted retroactive citizenship to adoptees born after 1982 (ie, who were minors in 2000 when the act was passed) but did nothing for the adoptees who were over the age of 18 at that time.
Let’s think about this for a minute. 35,000 – thirty-five thousand adoptees who were brought to the US as babies and young children and adopted into American families, and brought up as American and never learned or forgot their birth languages are not American.
Why does this matter?
Imagine for a minute that you don’t have citizenship of the country you’ve lived in all of your conscious life. Imagine there’s a country you were taken from as a child where you don’t speak the language, don’t know people there, and don’t “belong” to.
And imagine, because your adoptive parents failed to file the necessary paperwork in all the excitement of importing you that they left you completely vulnerable to being deported back to your country of birth. A country you don’t know.
Imagine that a racist endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan has just been elected President of the country you grew up in. A president who ran on a ticket of preventing immigration, deporting “illegal” immigrants, not to mention all the mysoginistic, homophobic, minority-hating extras.
Oh yeah, and you’re one of those “illegals” he’s talking about when he talks about deporting immigrants.
Because your adoptive parents forgot, or didn’t know, or couldn’t be bothered to file your paperwork.
This is what happened to a Korean adoptee called Adam Crapser this week. (I’ve already posted about Adam, who was adopted aged 3 and survived two sets of abusive adoptive parents, and whose crime was to break into the latter set’s house to retrieve his belongings from Korea after they’d kicked him out. Oh and his adoptive dad was later prosecuted for child abuse. Doesn’t this sound like he already had enough to deal with?!)
Adam is not the only one. 35,000 adoptees that Americans took into their families, treated well or badly, and didn’t bother filing paperwork for are now at risk of being deported in Donald Trump’s attempt at ethnic cleansing.
If this seems crazy and unjust to you, do something about it and join the campaign.
I am adopted. I am not less than. I do not deserve to be treated as less than a citizen – and I’m not, because I live in a country that recognises that adoptees are “just as much” as biological children.
35,000 adoptees do not.
A post I wrote on a transracial adoption discussion group a few days ago. Seems pertinent today…
I work in an American company (even though I’m in the UK) and I know people who are intending on voting for Trump. It genuinely scares me that a country I love, holiday in and where I have lots of friends (including people of colour – POC) would seriously be considering voting this guy in for president.
I’ve heard a lot of Americans liken this to Brexit. This is nothing like Brexit. Brexit is the decision to consider leaving the European Union (which has been challenged in parliament and which a significant minority voted against). Yes, it has some xenophobic undercurrents but it is not about enforced deportation. It is not about violence against women. It is not the same thing at all.
If you think Brexit sounds bad, imagine an America led by Trump. It is not the joke that people think it is. It’s a very real threat.
And then take a look at the POC you know, and the ones in your home. I imagine there are people in [this transracial adoption group] who are considering voting Trump, who have performed some mental gymnastics to justify why there’s no connection between voting for this guy and the POC sitting in their home.
Let me be clear: Even a Brit can see this.
Voting for Trump is an act of violence against your adopted child.
Voting for Trump is an act of violence against POC.
Voting for Trump is an act of violence against women.
Tonight we went to see our private doc for the 29 week scan. (Couldn’t do the recommended 28 week, as we were on holiday, so it’s all pushed back a week.) The good news is…
- B is looking nice and normal and healthy and it turns out that the private doc measured his abdominal cavity 5 times and could not replicate him being in the top percentiles for that. He is above average (the little chubster!) but it’s still well within normal range, more like 70-75th percentile from eyeballing the chart, and he said he wasn’t worried about his size as it was consistent with our previous scan with him.
- We talked about how the NHS uses lots of different sonographers and they also measure the abdominal cavity (where they told me B was measuring high growth in the upper percentiles) in a different way, by trying to fit it into an oval whereas the private doc measures height and width separately to calculate the circumference.
- T and I could see B moving around and saw his little face. He has definitely chubbed out since the last time! The doc said that until 28 weeks your baby is developing and then after that he starts fattening up. So it was really nice to see he looks more like a baby. Bit worried as he seems to look like me! Doc even tried to get a few 3D pics but unfortunately B was not playing ball and had his face pressed right up to my uterine wall, which meant you could only see his face in a blur. It was still cool though.
- I got my 29 week mails from various places (The Bump, Mothercare etc) and they keep talking about Braxton Hicks (practice contractions). I looked it up to understand what they were and I realised this weird sensation I get is that! I’ve had those for weeks though. It is weird to think that strange sensation is an actual thing rather than just what I imagined was my weird body.
Overall I feel quite reassured by these, although I’m supposed to go in for the glucose test on Friday. Neither my private doc or my midwife think I’m diabetic. We shall see!
Really horrible news arrived via FB – a friend’s brother had died. I looked into it a bit more as he was young (like half my age) and it seemed like a horrible shock. Apparently it was very sudden and the circumstances were that it was possibly related to an accident that happened a few weeks ago. It seemed so horrible that such a young guy could have his life wiped out so suddenly. I suppose it reminded me of the fragility of life. And how everything turns on a dime. One day you can be here and the next day not, and it’s worth remembering to make the most out of life and be grateful for our health.
Finally, I experienced a random act of kindness today. I may have mentioned I’m part of an online group of thousands of people regarding transracial adoption. I guess I’ve been pretty active there lately – not sure why. Maybe it’s that being pregnant has made me think more about being adopted. One of the things that has hit me pretty hard is the idea that B will inherit some of my racial characteristics, but as a transracial adoptee, I have none of that cultural background to give him. I guess I have come to terms with being “ethnic” but I feel helpless when it comes to imbuing my child with any kind of racial identity.
One of the things the group I am in does is a sort of fund where they give money towards adoptee causes, relating to specific needs of adoptees in the group. And they just had a donation that was to go towards the DNA testing kits which give you your genetic breakdown, allow you to find possible DNA matches (if people have registered) and an idea of your medical history. This is something that is a missing piece of the jigsaw for adoptees in closed adoptions as you don’t have your parents who can tell you this. I was thinking I would do it for my adopted sibling and me for Christmas, but the cost is pretty high – around £300 for the both of us.
Anyway this evening a couple of the admin team messaged me and told me they had voted and picked me as one of the recipients of the funds to pay for the DNA testing kits. Initially I messaged back saying there must be more deserving causes, but they told me they’d all voted and picked me!
I was so touched that when I told T on the train back from the ultrasound, I actually cried. It’s not so much about the money, which is substantial and makes it much easier for me to buy it for my sister for christmas. It’s the idea that someone out there who doesn’t know me in real life cared enough to do this. The donor who gave enough money for several tests for adoptees, knowing this is a big deal for adoptees. And the admin team who decided that out of thousands of people in the group, they wanted to give it to me.
So yeah, a pretty poignant day for me today.
If you are in the USA and you haven’t heard about the case of Adam Crapser, you need to read this. If you are an adoptive parent or a prospective adoptive parent, you need to read this.
Adoptees brought in from other countries to be the sons and daughters of American citizens have been denied the rights of Americans. They are being deported “back” to countries they were taken from as children, not knowing the language, away from the only families they’ve ever known. The case of Adam Crapser isn’t an isolated one. He is just one of the victims of the US system that places inter-country adoptees below the rights of citizens. In limbo, until something comes up on a check and they realise they’re not a citizen of the country they grew up in, after all.
America should be ashamed.
This was a question on one of the adoption discussion groups I’m a part of. I started writing an answer, and then it turned into a pretty long answer, and I thought I would share it here.
Q: Should you adopt if you also have biological children?
There is so much more I could say about this than could ever be said in a brief comment. It’s complex, and what happened happened and cannot be undone, so it’s a strange thought exercise to pretend it could.
I am the eldest child of my parents; they adopted me shortly after birth after ten years of infertility. They were living in my country of birth at the time and they realised that there were a lot of babies available for adoption – it was a pragmatic decision on their part rather than any sort of “White saviorism” that I’ve become aware of. They genuinely thought it made sense. I’m still loathe to say it didn’t. They adopted my sister (non bio, “like the washing powder”) a year later and thought their family was complete.
However, five years later, like the well known adoption cliché, my mother went to the doctor concerned she was putting on weight.
“You’re five months pregnant!,” he said.
My brother was born a few months later. The Golden Child (as he’s still known). And then – surprise again! – my youngest sibling was born another two years after that.
My feelings on whether people should adopt if they also have bio children are complex, because I love my siblings and I love my parents and on balance I have had a good life. My parents’ pragmatism and “colourblind” approach is clearly not de rigeur nowadays. We were treated pretty much the same as the bios, allowing for individual differences in personality and interests. And it’s hard to say you wish your siblings were never born. We had a childhood as a gang; moving around different countries for my dad’s job meant we always had friends in each other.
BUT – as I’ve grown up I’ve been very aware that the “natural order” was changed through our adoption. I’ve always been extremely emotionally needy and battled for attention (and got it, within the family) and played The Oldest to the best of my abilities (leader of the pack). I’m aware I stole the Golden Child’s birthright. In many ways he acts as an “oldest”. I clashed with him growing up. I was overwhelmingly jealous of him in the way I wasn’t of the youngest, who I doted on (and still do).
Realistically I love all my siblings but #3, the first bio, the miracle, the Golden Child, is the least close to me emotionally and character wise. He is the very epitome of white privilege, and I admit that I resent that everything comes so easy to him. He’s never had a day of difficulty in his life, and the slow realisation that he would have an easier time progressing even though he’s a mediocre student compared to my battling for acceptance as a straight A scholarship student was a tough lesson to learn. For me I guess he stands as a sort of emblem of white male privilege. The sad thing is, he’s a really nice guy and I don’t give him enough credit because I’m blinded by envy and the differences in our personalities. We have a healthy respect for each other but rarely seek out each other’s company. That said, I’m sure it’s the same for some bio siblings.
I’ve waxed and waned with my adopted sibling. In many ways we tried to plough our own furrows because the assumption was always that we were twins because we were roughly the same race (we don’t look remotely alike; it’s the racism of “they all look the same to me”) and we are extremely different personalities. I was a bullied geek turned fighter/leader. My sibling was always appeasing and popular and assimilated but maybe lost for a while in doing that. We were best buddies as young kids, separated at school and rebelled in our separate ways, and have gradually come back together. We are good friends now. For many years my sibling struggled and I’m sure adoption had a lot to do with it. I always thought I was the coper and my sibling was the screwed up one; lately I’m thinking maybe one of us just processed it first.
My youngest sibling is my favourite. Even though we are furthest in age we always got on best. I’m not sure why I’m not jealous of the youngest in the same way… I think it’s because of personality and also that my youngest sibling is gay. I feel that this means my sibling is much more empathetic than most people and knows what it’s like to be a minority. My sibling is also probably personality wise the kind of person I would like to be – doesn’t let bad stuff win and always perseveres to make dreams come true. And probably is the one who gets on the best with everyone. I guess this is often a factor of the youngest.
The complexity in mixed adoptive/bio families is that even if you resolve to treat them exactly the same, the outside world won’t. When people tell me that [my race] don’t get racism, I feel like I’m always the one rocking the boat or trying to forge a new path, acting differently from “normal [my race] females” (whoever they are – hardly any in the UK). For me our family is a perfect microcosm of a controlled experiment: white male privilege vs female of colour. And it hurts.
As an adult I don’t blame my mother for being overjoyed at having a biological child after 15 years of infertility. He WAS a miracle. But I was reminded for all of my childhood that I wasn’t, and I never felt good enough, despite her constant reassurances. He was a mini version of my dad. I didn’t resemble my parents and that hurts. Especially with my dad. Everyone thinks a mum with two little ethnic kids is cute; an adult male with a non-white female is seen as some sort of power play. It hurts like hell that the role of [my race] females is so tied up in sexuality that my relationship with my dad is seen as something else from the outside. If we go to dinner, it’s assumed I’m his girlfriend at best and a prostitute at worst.
The other thing I would say is that environment matters, and there may be compromises to be made that benefit the children differently. When we lived overseas we were in a diverse, multicultural and expatriate (mainly American) environment. Maybe it was privilege and/or youth but I never noticed racism until I moved back to the UK, and it took me a while to figure it out. Overseas all the kids were more or less treated the same (we were at least special and cool in a way, as adoptees, and we probably all were treated with privilege as expats) but back in the UK, it was a shock to be treated so differently from white family members. The move back to the UK disproportionately affected the adopted kids (racism) but I would temper that with getting a British education which has enabled us all to get “good” jobs and be self sufficient. I found British education miserable and racist but… it did prepare me for life and work as a British adult (less miserable but still a lot of racism).
One thing my parents did do with varying degrees of success was to try and make us all special and recognised in our own different ways. I was the smart one, one of my siblings was the musical one, the golden child was the sporty one and the little one was the politician (got on with everyone!). They really did make each of us feel that we were The Best at each of “our things”. (The problem comes when over analytical adoptee me would be thinking that society values sports more than academic prowess.) I do think it’s important to give each child something to be proud of and best at. Also, I always felt very wounded by the miracle of the golden child but my dad would try to make up for it by pretending I was his favourite. I do think that helped. I just think some children are more emotionally needy than others. I used to try and add up how much each parent loved each of us, which is stupid but shows how my mind worked. (Probably still does.)
The hardest thing I’ve dealt with as a grown up is that realisation that I may be a genetic island. As the oldest, I got married first and I should have had a family first, but – irony of ironies – I’m infertile. So I’ve struggled with that for years whilst the golden child did everything “right” – married his childhood sweetheart and had the perfect two naturally conceived children, one boy, one girl. To me that is the hardest thing to deal with right now and feels like one more thing that has been taken away from me. I always felt like there would be some healing in having my own family, a child who looked like me, and I can’t describe how painful it is to think that likely won’t happen – especially when everyone’s response to infertility is “Why don’t you just adopt?” Neither of us adoptees wants to adopt. I think that maybe says something.
We often vied for position in our family. We’d all defend each other to the end but the fact is, with four kids you have to fight for attention. From the outside we are all pretty pushy. I’ve had a lifelong battle to feel special and I’ve gotten into some bad relationships because of it. But is that adoption, or is than just me? I’ve always wanted to feel chosen and to be someone’s favourite. I think a large part of coming to terms with it was meeting my partner, who was also adopted as a baby (same race adoption). For the first time I had someone other than my adopted sibling who understood and was willing to talk about it. It’s helped me unpick a lot of my feelings because it’s almost like having a control group for race/adoption.
My partner was adopted as the younger of two (non bio) siblings and is extremely close to his sibling, even though on the surface they have very little in common. I think this is because (aside from the fact that he’s an amazing human who invests in others) they only had each other. I think that and the same race adoption cuts the complexity somewhat. They also had a much easier time searching for their bio parents which I think eases some of the questions that come up, whereas I feel that’s an almost insurmountable obstacle for us.
Honestly, I’ve always joked with my dad that they should have stopped with me. And whilst I would never get rid of my siblings – I do think it would have been easier if I had been an only child or if my adopted sibling and I had been the only kids. I think adopted children need to feel more than anything else that they’re not second best, or a backup, or a charity project – but the fact is, they are one or all of those. A fundamental fact that I’ve always lived with is that if my parents hadn’t suffered with infertility, I wouldn’t be here in this life. That’s a lot to grow up with.
Some things I think potential [transracial] adoptive parents should consider with mixed adopted/bio families:
- Can you trust that you’ll be able to value each child as special and make them truly understand, to their core, that you love them equally?
- Do you realise that might not mean demonstrating it in the same way to each child? Adopted children, especially transracial adoptees, are likely to need more support and grounding and help developing their identities than your bio children.
- Many adoptees I’ve met have had “issues” with feeling like they belonged and are second best – how are you going to help deal with this?
- Are you willing to advocate for your child? Second guess and elicit how they’re truly feeling, and get beyond their adoptee desire for acceptance and people pleasing? (Adopted children often demonstrate more people pleasing behaviours than others, because they are afraid of further rejection.)
- How will you react when they’re Othered and how will you help them cope? What happens when it’s your biological child who’s othering them?
- When it comes down to it, are you willing to have exactly the same loyalty to your adopted child as your biological child?
From my point of view, I’m not in the position to tell people what to do with regards to growing their family. If you are going to do it, you’re going to do it and some random person on a blog isn’t going to affect that. If you’re already in that position then I hope you are still considering these questions and understanding that adopted children and bio children do not feel the same and will not be dealing with the same sorts of identity issues – particularly if they are transracially adopted. That’s not to say all is hopeless, but it is complex.
I am happy and generally okay but that’s in spite of the experiences I’ve had and not because of them. Growing up different is hard, no matter how much your parents love you (and mine do, a lot). Their love cannot protect you from the rest of the world and if you’re the different one, you have to learn to navigate the world and your difference within it on your own.
Another thing: adoptees are not static. They are not perpetual children. They grow up, they experience and learn and change just like other people. And so it’s important to understand that your child’s feelings about adoption won’t remain static throughout their lives. Their desires to connect with their birth culture may wax and wane too. One of my biggest regrets is that I resisted learning my birth language as a child – my parents encouraged me to, but I didn’t want to – I didn’t want another not-very-fun-sounding task to do. Now as an adult it is a big blocker to me revisiting my birth culture.
So what’s the answer? I have no answer. I only have my own lived experience.
If you don’t have experience of adoption or race then I urge you to the very large number of adult transracially adopted voices and testimonies so that whatever you do, you go into it with your eyes open.