It’s interesting how many times I write a post and don’t hit publish. Or how many times I publish a post and instantly think, oh I forgot to say that. Or more often, I think about things I deliberately left out, and I wonder whether the post conveys, in essence, the whole truth, or at least enough truth to reflect the reality I choose to share here.
It happens most often when I write about adoption. You’ve heard it many times before, how I am reluctant to write much about our open adoption because it is not only my story to tell — i.e., it is also Kaye’s and our daughter’s, most importantly. There are parts of our story, of Jaye’s story really, that shouldn’t be shared with the world at large. There are parts of Jaye’s story that she should not learn from someone else. These pieces are hers to unfold some day, at the appropriate time and in the right way, however that may be. Some day she will take it all in, bit by bit, and try to make sense of it. My job is to provide those pieces, as best as I can, and help her process these little bits of herself, to help her integrate them, so she may feel whole. My job is to be secure enough in my role as her mama to support her in whatever way she needs.
Easier said than done, I think.
There are parts of Jaye’s story that I wonder how I’ll tell. By comparison, her birth story is easy. It’s beautiful and because we were there I can tell her about the love in that room when she entered the world. (Of course I hope Kaye will share her own version with Jaye, one day.) I tell her origin story which leads to her placement with us, at this point without much explanation. She knows she grew in Kaye’s belly, that Kaye asked us to be her parents before she brought her into the world, that we were all there to welcome her, that we all love her. For now, that seems to be enough. When I tell her that Kaye asked us to be her parents, she doesn’t ask “because why?” as she does with almost every other thing. Oh she will, one day, perhaps soon.
When Jaye sees a rare picture of herself as a baby with her biological father Tee, she asks who it is. I tell her his name, but I don’t yet explain his significance. As I understand it, until they can appreciate basic biology and reproduction, it won’t make sense. I said that Tee wanted to meet her but that we don’t see him often so she might not remember him, but maybe we will see him again some day. Some day we’ll have to find the words to explain who he is, and try to explain why he doesn’t keep in touch.
And how to tell about other facets of her story that could have resulted in a very different outcome? What about the reasons Kaye chose to place rather than parent? What about those who opposed the adoption? Or those who wanted even greater involvement than Kaye believed was appropriate? What about the extended relative who wanted to parent? Or how we had to terminate her biological father’s rights because he didn’t show up. How do you share that information? Do you share it? Personally, I don’t think those parts of her story are mine to tell. I’ve got basic answers, of course, but the reasons for Kaye’s adoption plan, for instance, are best told by Kaye.
So often I’m left accentuating the positive aspects of our adoption and relationships. I choose not to write about some of the more challenging aspects, the grittier more difficult stuff. I wrote a bit about the phenomenon of “shared experience” after Jaye’s first birthday party, when I caught a glimpse into how hard the day was for Kaye. It’s not that I want to portray adoption as shiny and perfect by avoiding the negative. Yet I know that leaving out the tough parts could convey a distorted image. Adoption is so complex. I think it’s impossible as an adoptive parent to portray anything but our own limited experience, and even that is shrouded by the things left unsaid.