Post Adoption: How Can I Teach My Child to be Gentle and Kind?
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How I Prepared My Sons for their Newly Adopted Sister
“By words we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life.” – Jean Baptiste Girard
This month my husband and I celebrate 19 years of marriage! I have been reflecting back on our life regarding all the wonderful things we have done. There are 2 that share the top spot: the birth of our twin boys, Colin and Sean and the adoption of our daughter LeAine. As a couple wanting to have a family, I cannot think of a better gift to a marriage than to share parenting of such amazing gifts from God.
This past week we packed our vehicle and met up with another Kansas City family to travel to Tennessee. We were meeting two other families for a unique reunion we celebrate with who we call our “China Family.” This all started in China, April 2007, as five couples, strangers to one another, began a three-week journey together. We met in a conference room at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, China to meet with our adoption coordinator. Later that day we would be taken to the Chinese adoption bureau to get our daughters…this day is famously known as “Gotcha Day.”
Upon looking around the room, I saw the same excitement, nervousness and anticipation in everyone’s eyes. Here we sat, halfway around the world, with regular couples like ourselves, anxiously waiting to meet and hold our daughters for the first time. Once we made it to the building, we were placed in a classroom-size room that was painted white and had white tile flooring. The walls were decorated with beautifully photographed Chinese children. There were five couches; each couple took up residency on their individual couch and sat talking quietly to their spouse. You could hear the soothing sounds of babies just beyond one of the four doors in our room. Each time resulting in an exchange of glances and giggles from around the room.
Time seemed to have ticked by ever so slowly, but eventually our daughters came out one by one. Our daughter, Wu Chan Fung, came out first. We had carefully chosen the name LeAine Elizabeth and as she was placed in my arms I whispered her new name in her ear and told her how much I loved her. My husband was behind me with his arms around us as we soaked in the moment of holding our daughter for the first time. There was no doubt, we connected with our daughter instantly, and she was truly meant to be ours. This process repeated with the other four couples as they received their daughters. Each time, we shed tears for each other and our bond as a ‘family’ solidified.
So, here we are, 7 years later and dedicated to keeping our families together. During this time we have traveled to St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago and this year just outside Nashville in Tullahoma, TN. One family, temporarily living in Adu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, even made the trip back to the States for our reunion.
Though we stay in touch via email, occasional phone calls and social media, it doesn’t compare to the times we are all gathered together in person. To watch the girls interact with one another and to hear the laughter and constant chatter of their young voices is priceless. In addition, they share this time with their siblings; 5 brothers and 1 little sister.
This year was slightly different for me personally, I observed the girls (they call each other ‘China Sisters’) more closely than before; I noticed the attention from bystanders and desires to have their curiosity about our girls answered. The questions asked were no different than what we have been asked since the beginning. What has changed is my sensitivity to the questions and the sudden awareness of the girls as we, their parents, answer the questions.
I decided it was time to share a list of questions asked, innocently, but how the word choices can have negative impacts to any adopted child and their overall self-worth. Words are powerful and can create a perception that may not have been intended.
Here are the top 5 questions I have been asked over the years, with innocent intentions, my typical response and why I responded that way:
Adoption is not for everyone, but for our family and the other four families that stood in that small white room seven years ago, we knew it was for us. We have dedicated our lives to raising our daughters, and all our children to the best of our abilities and to be well-rounded now and in the future. I pray for my daughter’s birth mother often, in hopes she has a sense of peace that LeAine is happy, healthy, and loved by her forever family; also, for my most sincere gratitude for my beautiful daughter.
If you encounter a family that has grown through adoption, it is ok to ask questions, just take time in forming your words appropriately and ensure they do not hurt the child you are inquiring about. There are a lot of children looking for their forever families, foreign or domestic. Once they are connected, the children need the reinforcement they belong and are treated as a member of their family.
If this resonated with you, or you know of others that could benefit from my words, please share!
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