I took my daughters to the playground one day last summer. They caught the eye of a slightly older girl, who, after watching them play, came over to ask me if they were Asian. “My best friend is Asian,” she explained, “and she has a swimming pool and a trampoline and a puppy andandand.” Although I knew she meant no harm, her words stung.
We celebrate family day in April to mark the date we became a family forever. We spend that day together in an activity all four of us enjoy. It’s not supposed to be a gift-giving holiday, but we usually sneak one in nonetheless. After all, the girls do have winter birthdays. The first family day brought baby dolls; the second, two new bicycles; and this year, tickets to see The Lion King on stage.
At dinner before the performance, we shared the reason for our celebration with the waiter. He was from China, and the father of an only son. “These girls have won the lottery,” he exclaimed.
It is true that our daughters were probably placed for adoption in order to make room for a brother, a brother who, ironically, will most likely never live as privileged a life as his sisters. As adoptive parents, we not only cherish and adore our children, but we carry with us every day the memory of promises made to social workers, government officials, and ourselves to be attentive and responsible parents. We’ve dedicated our time, our emotions, and our savings to starting a family. And we’ll do whatever we can to assure our children a strong foundation to life.
Do we indulge our children out of eagerness to cement our family? Are we trying to compensate for losses our children suffered early in their lives? Or are we hoping for insurance against the maelstrom of emotions that may surface in years to come?
Last year, my camera broke just as we began opening gifts on Christmas morning. We paused while my husband ran out to buy a disposable camera. The girls were so happy playing with the video and stick pony they had already opened that the pile of waiting gifts was unimportant. In truth, their most cherished possessions are a tattered bear and a blanket, the gifts we gave them the day we met.
This year, we’ve vowed to cut back at Christmas. Well, perhaps it wasn’t a vow, but at least a serious intent to try. Then again, they are children for such a short time.