I got together for a playdate today with some women I met posting on an online adoption forum. It was the first time I had done that, actually met someone face-to-face whom I only knew over the internet.
I imagine everyone wants to come into such meetings the epitome of put-togetherness: the confident woman with effortless wit and a well-behaved child. The other women acquitted themselves flawlessly. And me? Let's just say that by the end of the afternoon (to which I arrived late), while I gave a sticky Puppy a time-out on the strip mall sidewalk, everyone else's children were dutifully picking up the goldfish crackers he dumped next to his spilled smoothie.
If you told me one year ago that I would be doing something like this, I would have said you were nuts. Online forums seemed like a waste of time and I could barely gather the nerve to comment on someone else's blog. But one of the things we left behind when we moved last summer was our network of adoptive families. It was nothing formal, just friends and coworkers who had also adopted who were regularly in our lives. International, domestic, transracial, open, closed, public, private, family adoption--there was a bit of everything. There was always someone I could talk to without having to explain everything. And none of our kids were growing up as the only adopted person they knew.
When we moved, I had no idea how to go about adding adoptive families to our circle. I knew they were out there. But short of literally wearing my status on my chest or saying to strangers, "I notice your kid doesn't look like you. Was she adopted?," I wasn't sure what to do.
So I went online, hoping that it would one day lead to the kind of support I saw others enjoying and maybe even connections with some local-ish people. And, much to my surprise, those things have slowly started to happen.
We didn't go deep about adoption today, but that wasn't the point. It was enough that no one looked askance when the bottles came out or had to explain what they meant by "first dad." Everyone knew the freight carried by the word "wait" and the experience of coming into parenthood through relationship, not pregnancy. Being with a group that transforms your difference into similarity is such a restful thing. Even when you're the one with the overtired, messy kid.