There is something to be said for people with big hearts. Throughout history we see bravery, courage, and heroism in many forms. We think these people are passionate as they break down barriers. They inspire, encourage, and uplift our spirits hearing about their bold tactics and world changing philosophies. We are all capable of becoming those people. My proof are my own personal heroes, they just have a silent sort of chivalry. They are my parents.
Being a parent is my highest priority in life. It makes you reach inside yourself and ask questions you never thought would matter to you and it starts to shape and create a new identity. Twenty-something years later I find my nonchalant phrase of, “Yes, we will adopt someday. Because I love all things adoption,” starting to twist my mind and heart a little bit with sad stories of people who have had a hard time adopting, which if I’m correct, is just about everybody that attempts it. My parents told me it took years to finalize papers with me, but not until I became a parent and realized the strength required, did I understand their big hearts.
An almost middle-aged couple in Alaska, of all places, wanted a baby. Little did they know that during her teenage years, that baby would cause them severe heartburn. Alas, they received a baby who came across the ocean from India. Even after saying that, it’s humorous, because I’m about as American as they get. As a teenager while visiting Nepal, I was trying to be on my way to board a plane to Thailand. Customs stopped me to ask if I was actually American or just trying to smuggle my way out of the country. Not hearing them very well (and while wearing my handkerchief Karate Kid style with a bad perm), I bleated, “WHAAAAT!??” They looked disgusted and stamped my approval to leave.
Being adopted as a baby and growing up with my family, I never felt an inner struggle or disconnect, just a normal and natural upbringing. When people ask me at what point my family told me I was adopted, it’s obvious they have never seen my family. There is no family resemblance. I’m like the Milk Dud in a bowl of rice. You’d have to be a moron to not pick up on something like that. And c’mon people, this is the melting pot called America. Even in Alaska there are minority groups. I went to a Native tribal conference once just because I could.
Many parents considering adoption have approached me with questions about being adopted. My case is pretty cut and dry, I was a newborn and have no connections to a birth family, because at that time in India, people dropped off babies at orphanages like you would an old lamp to Salvation Army thrift store. As a child when I realized Calcutta (now Kolkata) was an entirely different world, with poverty and hunger, I was immediately grateful to be eating cupcakes in Sunday School in my nice frilly red dress. Sometimes when I didn’t get my way, I’d yell, “You’re not my real mom!”, but my mom looked at me like I was embarrassing myself and said, “That’s ridiculous. Of course I’m your real mom. Get used to it. Go to your room.” I was like, dangit, thought I had her that time.
My parents never instilled the culture in me, but it never bothered me. When I was a teenager I went to India, but wasn’t hippy enough to enjoy the culture really. But now as a mother thinking about the street kids is very sad. Because of two great people that raised me, when I was a child, I’d ride my bike around, eating an Otter Pop and yelling, “I am a champion!” Catch me on a good day, you still might witness a similar scene.
Here’s the thing: Like any family, my self-esteem was buried in a lot of love from them. That’s really the key. My identity was never an issue, because everybody’s family or friends were a little nuts and had problems. As far as I could tell, I felt bad for people that weren’t adopted. You can’t accidentally adopt a kid, right?
I’ll end the article with my favorite adoption joke ...
A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named “Ahmal.” The other goes to a family in Spain; they named him “Juan.” Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, “They’re twins! If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Ahmal.” (courtesy of www.greatcleanjokes.com)
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.