Two week’s ago, while collecting Ava from school, we were once again approached by a child at the school, asking if I was Ava’s real mother and how was that possible because she was brown and I was white? Ava has become used to these types of questions and this time, instead of seeing hurt flash across her face, she gave a giant eye roll and a huff instead.
We’ve been faced with these types of situations a lot and on some level Walter and I always knew it would be this way when we chose to adopt cross racially. When we go out as a family, we get curious looks, we get stared at by children and some ruder adults and interestingly this reaction is not limited to any one race group but across the colour lines. The child from last week was Indian. One of my closest friends, who lifts Hannah from school each day, along with her own daughter, has also mentioned the curious stares she gets from other parents at the school when she collects Hannah. People are curious I guess.
So last week, Ava’s theme was different kinds of families and Ava decided that she wanted to tell her school friends during Show & Tell on Friday, that she was adopted. We were of course, very nervous about this, after all, children can be ruthless. But both Walter and I believed that allowing her to share her story, on her terms, without being blindsided by, at times, hurtful questions, may help empower her and also reinforce the idea that being adopted was nothing to be ashamed of or nothing that needed to be kept hidden or treated as a secret.
We discussed at length with her school teacher, because I wanted to ensure that the information was shared in an age appropriate manner without putting Ava at risk. I am so pleased with the amazing way Ava’s teacher handled the situation, she asked me to give her a day or so to think on it and to discuss with the school psychologist, they both agreed that if this was something Ava wanted to do, as long as she wasn’t being pushed into it, which she wasn’t, then there was no reason why she shouldn’t share her story with her class.
In Grade R, S&T is kind of like a mini weekly project, they cannot just bring a toy to discuss, there needs to be research done into the topic and some thought and preparation needs to go into an oral that must be a minimum of 30 seconds long. If the kids don’t prepare or don’t participate in S&T on a Friday morning, then the Friday tuck shop reward is withheld. So no S&T, equals no tuck.
Ava and I started talking on Wednesday evening already about what she’d like to talk about and I told her about how many Super Hero’s are adopted and how I thought that was really cool because she has something in common with all of them. She was super chuffed with this information and apparently couldn’t wait for Friday’s S&T because when I checked her comm book on Thursday evening, while helping her with her S&T project, I found this note from her amazing teacher:
I cannot tell you how proud I am of her. How brave, for my tiny little 5 year old to stand in front of a class of her peers and share about something that kids could very easily turn into a tool to hurt her. She was very excited to help with her project on Thursday evening, doing all the glueing and most of the cutting and glitter and telling me what her poster should say.
I was very nervous for her on Friday morning but apparently her speech went off very well, her teacher says she’s a rock star and proudly got up and shared her unique story with her class explaining once again that she has two mommy’s – a tummy mummy whose tummy she was born from and a heart mummy whose heart she was born from. Apparently her class were fascinated by her story and some had curious questions, which I’d briefed her teacher on so that she could step in should Ava need a helping hand but overall, the class were enthralled and loved it, they were also totally accepting of Ava’s explanation of how her own unique family came to be.
I can’t help thinking once again that choosing to be totally open with her and everyone around us, from early on, about her adoption was the best gift we could have given her and being able to talk about her adoption, question her adoption and be questioned on her adoption has empowered her on so many levels.
I am one seriously proud mama bear!