June 28, 2007

Becoming Known

Puppy is in the middle of a vocabulary explosion. He babbles his way through the day, repeating what we say and practicing the words he knows. As his verbal skills grow, we're seeing more and more of his extroverted nature. He is constantly telling us little "stories" about his day, wanting to share things that have happened to him (usually mere minutes before).

"Nana! Hi! Hi! Nana! Buf! Hans!" (translation: "Nana came over! We read the book with the hands in it!")

"Truck! Baby! Truck! Uh-oh! Down!" (translation: "I was playing with the truck! I dropped the truck!")

I love seeing his personality emerge, observing the things he's interested in and the ways he connects with his world. Early in our marriage, T and I sometimes tossed out wishes for our hypothetical future kids' personalities and talents: T's musicality and athleticism, my love of learning. The projection goes both ways. Two generations of women in my family have wielded this curse when at the end of their rope with a stubborn daughter: "I hope someday you have a child just like you."

Of course, in adoption one never has a child "just like you." But because of that, we have a unique joy. There is a certain freedom in watching your child's personality unfold as an adoptive parent. I have no expectations for what he should be like, no unconscious hope that he will be a miniature version of us. I'm not eagerly waiting to see if the unique things I love about T were passed onto Puppy.

Karen of Chookooloonks once put it perfectly:

There's something quite freeing about being a parent to a child who was adopted-- you never have to look to see if your child inherited some special gift that you have, or an unusual talent that your partner has. Every unique, special and wonderful aspect of your child is revealed to you at the same time it is revealed to her, and it's as much of a surprise to you as it is to her.
My mind has been returning to that idea so often during this stage of Puppy's life. We do affirm the parts of his first parents that we see in him. But it doesn't carry the emotional weight for me that it would if he shared our genes. I'm not anticipating which traits of K and R he inherited, but rather acknowledging them as they emerge. There are no expectations, no pressures, no hopes to be dashed. Instead there is the thrill of having the unknown made known.

Puppy is unlike me in so many ways. My boy lives in exclamation points. He never walks when he can run, nor sits when he can move. His anger, frustration and hurt come out in a burst of pure, intense emotion--then he shrugs it off and moves on. Over the years we will discover more of him, the special gifts and talents that are just his. There is no blank slate here--he brought his own heritage and personality with him. And we have the joy of seeing it work itself into fruition, together with him.

1 comment:

abebech said...

This is so true. My daughter is such a wonderful surprise, though with my son too (bio) I love to watch it all unfold. I find myself endlessly amazed at who they are becoming.

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