They may not have my blood coursing through their veins. I may not know what it felt like to feel them kick inside me. But, I know a whole lot of other things. And, I know that they are part of me. William loves traditions and silly jokes because of me. He feels compelled to sing about what he's doing like I do. And, somehow he has inherited my ability to drop things, knock things over, and bump in walls. His appreciation for bad/corny jokes, though, is totally Brian's fault. Antwan makes the same sound with the exact same inflection that I do when he sees something cute. ("Awwww!") He gets grumpy when hungry and feels better when he's fed, just like me. His love for sports, though, is all Brian. Lizzie calls every living creature (except humans) "Baby" like I do. She gets intimidated in crowd settings or if everyone is focusing on her, like me. Her love for vegetables, though, is Brian's fault. ;)
When William gets picked on at school, I don't think "I want to protect my adopted child." I think "Where is that kid who is messing with my baby?!?!" The fact that I haven't gone up to the school and beat up a bully yet is also Brian's fault. (But, I don't want to be the grown-up!!)
When Antwan took his time and said his line in the Thanksgiving play so well; I wasn't beaming because the child who I adopted did a good job. I was holding back tears because my baby did a great job!
When Daddy and Lizzie met me for lunch yesterday and Lizzie woke up from her car nap and hugged me so hard when she realized that I was there; I wasn't thinking how glad I was that I adopted her. I was thinking about how much I loved my little girl.
And, I know they feel it, too. When William says whatever random thing that he says, he almost always adds "Right, Mom?" I don't usually know what he's talking about because he has a habit of assuming that I'm listening, no matter where I am in the house. But, I do hear how he says my name. He says it with love and a confidence that I am mom.
When Lizzie bellows for me at a park. She is secure in her knowledge that it is me who will come.
And when Antwan asks me about breast feeding him, it's because I'm mom to him, in every way.
Cue the back story....
Antwan has recently discovered "boobies." I blame his chatty big brother who has since had it explained that there are some things that you don't talk to your little brother about. First, we explained that it's an inappropriate word which it resulted in him constantly referring to the "b-word" followed by a giggle. So, then I tried explaining to him that the proper term is "breast." I explained that "boobie" is rude and not a nice thing to call them. That it is a normal part of a girl's body and no, you shouldn't touch them because it's not your body. I didn't discuss breast feeding with him. So, when he said this to me during dinner, I was floored.
"Mommy, do you remember when I was a baby and I sucked on your breasts and I got milk?"
Several things went through my head and out of my mouth. Good job using the right word. (head) Who told you about that? (mouth) After Antwan ratted out his brother and William got another lecture, I explained to Antwan that when we adopted him, he was already drinking regular milk.
He seemed a little disappointed. And I felt sad because I wanted to say yes. Not because it bothered me that he wasn't biological, but because I want every part of him. He deserved to be lovingly fed as an infant. Just like there were so many things that William deserved to experience.
They deserved to belong to someone who wanted them. Well, they do now. That's the only thing that distinguishes them. If you have a child, they are your own and they always know it. When you adopt a child, they become your own. I have plenty of reminders everyday. My children look nothing like me. Their hair is different. Their skin is different. Their blood is different. Everywhere we go, there are curious looks and questions. But, when I look at them, all I see are my children. The children that were meant for me.
Yesterday, all five of us were walking into the boys' school for a meeting. One of the other black kids at William's school (there aren't many) was looking at us with a confused look on his face. We're used to that.
But, then he asked, "Is that your dad???"
And, Brian said, cheerfully, "Yep! I'm his dad!" Then he added, I assume for his own amusement, "I'm a little taller than he is."
And, I felt proud and I know that Brian did, too. We are so proud that we belong to them and they belong to us.
So, this Thanksgiving weekend and National Adoption Month, I can tell you that there is nothing in the world that I'm more thankful for than this. When we didn't get pregnant, we were smart enough to go looking elsewhere. We discovered foster care adoption and through that, we got the opportunity to make these (wacky, clumsy, silly, grumpy when hungry, freaked out by crowds, slightly obsessed with boobies) children---our own!