For adoptive parents – especially if your children were old enough to remember their Birth family like our two boys – it’s getting tricky to go to the cinema as most films nowadays seem to have some kind of adoption related theme, which may upset your children or your delicate family balance. For a long time we were resisting our children’s nagging to watch Kung Fu Panda 3 (trailer here), but today we decided it was time. It came out a while ago so I don’t think I am spoiling it anymore by mentioning the story line and linking it to our adoption story. Roll on a rainy Good Friday and here is what happened.
We always knew the boys remember all the bad things that had happened to them – lots of it were inflicted on them by their own birth family themselves so neither boys harboured any positive feelings towards them. But watching the panda’s father just show up one day in Po’s new home made us all pause and think… For me personally, this is my worst nightmare: anybody from their birth family showing up at my door! For the boys, naturally, it evoked a few positive memories of their first dad sharing his coke with them or first mum watching tv with them. As much as I personally don’t like hearing these stories I know for my children they are very important so I listened carefully. I even made comments (compliments even) on their dad being kind in that instance. When we got to the end of the story I hit play on the movie again. The story progressed and we got to the adoption messages:
Adoption gives MORE for our children!
When Po discovers his panda daddy is back in his life, Po’s adoptive dad is not happy, but eventually he comes around and says: ‘First I thought it will be less for me, but now I know it will be more for him!’ Adoption gives my boys more of pretty much everything! More parents, more grandparents, more opportunities, more exposure to different life style, food, religion or world views, more memories, more love! What a positive message!
I must confess though, I am dreading the day when my boys turn 18 and can legally look for their birth family. I hope they won’t, for selfish reasons… But as a mother who wants the best for her children, I hope they will find the courage in their hearts to look for them one day, to ask all those questions that keep them awake at night, to learn more about that side of their family history and perhaps to find nice blood relatives whom they can develop an adult relationship with. All these will add more to their lives!
Adoption helps the children discover who they really are!
During the final battle Po is wondering about who he really is. ‘Am I a son of a panda? Am I a son of a goose? A student? A teacher? It turns out, I am all of that!’ When it comes to my boys they do have their birth parents’ DNA; Snoops has his mother’s face, Goofs has his father’s eyes. But Snoops also has OUR love for everything geeky, Goofs has MY love for music! All these together makes them who they are! We create their personalities together! We guide their interests, encourage them to pursue their talents and open new windows to their lives. They are not defined by their past as we are changing their story. They might bring a certain set of cultural views and social values with them from their first home, but the string of Foster Carers and finally us as their Forever Family also bring in our own sets and as a result the boys are presented with a much wider perspective on everything! We do challenge a lot of learnt behaviour they have brought with them from a dysfunctional home (like hitting and shouting is not a way to resolve problems) so at the end they will hopefully have a more balanced attitude towards life.
Adoption shows what a Family really is!
Po’s panda dad and goose dad had nothing in common, nothing to do with each other prior to the adoption. It’s the same with me and her! But as part of the adoption process we had to sit down and meet Birth Mum last year, shake hands, even take a picture together that was supposed to go into the children’s Life Story Book. It didn’t for the time being, but that’s a different story.
Recently Goofs (6) told me that in his head there is a big house with lots of people living in it. ‘What kind of house is it?’ I asked. ‘It’s called a Love House for all my mums and dads and me!’ He went on to explain that in this very special house his birth parents, one maternal grandmother who was nice to him, a few of his nicest Foster Carers and my husband and I live there in harmony and ‘our job is to love each other and love him!’ What a beautiful representation of how he was able to reconcile the fact in his head that he cannot live with his birth family any more!
We also talk a lot about their sibling who was adopted separately into a family who already had children. ‘Naturally’ we explained that those children are considered my children’s cousins! Again, before our boys moved in with us, we didn’t even know about this family and now I am sending cards to them, we talk on the phone, share personal stories about our own lives… just because we consider each other now as our extended families!
When we were searching for a school for our boys many of our friends recommended a particular school. We checked it out and although it did seem like a great place for children, we knew it wasn’t the best place for our children, because it was too perfect! Their current school has a lot of broken families, classmates with half siblings here and there, complicated family structures so my boys don’t stand out! If anything, they stand out for being a ‘regular’ family with one mum married to one dad and all four of us live in the same home!
Our children know sometimes things don’t go as they should; sometimes bad things happen to good people. But they also know the hope that things can get turned around and adoption made this hope into a reality. They also know it’s perfectly OK to have 2 dads (like Po) because there are many types of families!