A lot of readers have commented that perhaps we should not tell people that Ava is adopted. I wanted to respond to this sentiment in an posting because it’s easier than responding to everyone individually in an email.
It’s not as if we advertise that Ava is adopted, we’ve chosen to be open about it and I’ll cover that in more detail below, but we haven’t kept it a secret and our story was also featured in our local Living & Loving magazine a few months back. But it’s not as if we go around being introduced to people as Walter, Sharon & our adopted daughter, Ava. That piece of information is shared at times when it is appropriate to do so.
There are two main reasons that we have chosen to be so open about Ava’s adoption. The first one is simple: I’m proud to be her mommy. I’m proud to say I survived 7 years of hell! I’m proud to say that we were chosen for a path less traveled. I’m proud to say that we were blessed by something as extraordinary and miraculous as adoption.
The second reason is that we feel that by treating her adoption as if it is a secret, we are, inadvertently, sending her a message that it is something to be ashamed of, which, in my mind, it is not. It is not in anyway shameful for us, for her BBM or for her. We cannot continue to tell her she’s special because she’s adopted. She’s special because not only does she have a mommy and a daddy who loved her so much they walked to through hell to find her, but she also has a tummy mummy that loves her so very very much that she gave Ava this gift. Adoption IS love. There is nothing selfish about it. But we cannot drive home that message of how special she is, if it’s necessary to keep it a secret. That would contradict the message we are trying to instill in her, of her specialness, her uniqueness. I feel that would cause her to question herself and her value when she is old enough to understand and interpret the non verbal messages that she is receiving.
We want to raise a confident, self assured child and adult. I believe the only way to do that is through openness and honesty. I feel the quickest way to destroy her self confidence and damage our relationship with her, would be to send her mixed messages.
Of course, she will come across people who are less than understanding of her situation, who are ignorant or just plain mean. But I’ve faced people like that in my life too and I’m not adopted. Isn’t that part of growing and learning? Part of our life experiences? Walter and I thought this through in depth before embarking on the adoption path. And the conclusion we came to is that everyone in life will be made fun of, have mean stuff said about. Didn’t we all growing up? I was teased because of my big teeth! I had huge teeth as a pre-teen before my face grew into my teeth. I was teased for my acne when I was an teenager. Walter was teased about his big nose, he was teased about the home they lived in. Everyone is teased or bullied for something. But we cannot allow our lives or our decisions to be based on what may or may not happen, we cannot base these decisions on negativity.
That obviously doesn’t give anyone permission to look her in the face and wonder out loud how her mother could just give her away. Those people will be set straight. But I won’t, I can’t hide something that is an integral part of who she is.