A few days a week, Puppy and Firefly go to a babysitter's house while Todd and I work. We had to find a sitter in a bit of a rush when we moved here two years ago, but we lucked out and the kids absolutely adore her. She is a former Montessori preschool teacher and has an uncanny knack for convincing children to move out of diapers. Babysitting gold.
She is also an adoptee. I'd say I find her story fascinating, but the truth is I find all adoption stories fascinating (granted, they're not always told in an interesting way, but the stories themselves draw me in). She was adopted as an infant at the tail end of the Baby Scoop Era and grew up in a closed adoption. By the time she was eighteen, both of her (adoptive) parents had passed away. (Can you imagine having both parents die before you're really even an adult? Wow.) That was when she started searching for--and found--her first family. She's vaguely mentioned that the reunion was bumpy at first, but for years and years now it's been happy and healthy. They are the family she visits for the holidays, the only maternal grandparents her children have known, the ones filling the role of extended family. I listen to her story and in my mind it is as if I see her moving from her first family to her adoptive family, then back again to her first. Reunion without any overlap between the two family trees.
I can't remember now how she and I first started talking about adoption, but it was very early on. To be frank, it was a bit of a relief. When I acknowledge our family's open adoptions with important new people in our lives, it is often with a slight holding of my breath as I wait to see how they will respond. Will they be unphased by our family's blurred boundaries? Or will they spout back the misconceptions we've all heard too many times before?
I never worry about what Puppy and Firefly are hearing about adoption while they are at daycare. I don't fret that they'll be chided for mentioning their first parents or taught that adoption is something to hide. Instead I know that they are seeing someone who is comfortable talking about blended families, and secure in her identity as an adopted person. At this formative stage, I believe kids should be surrounded by people who support their family structure without reservation; the time for learning to defend and deflect disapproval and ignorance comes later. To find a caregiver who not only equally values birth family and adoptive family, but has lived out adoption herself? What a gift.