This past week was parent-teacher conference time at school! I always look forward to meeting with teachers (not because my kids are perfect angels. Sorry to disappoint). I look forward to it because teachers are spending nearly all day, five days per week, with my children. They watch them interact with others, learn their quirks, discipline when required, and encourage when needed. That’s big, people.
Yesterday’s conference started out like most other ones. We reviewed grades, etc and then my child’s teacher asked, “How is the school year going?” My reply went something like this, “(Child) is having a hard time. Not wanting to do homework, lots of behavior issues, threatened to run away this week, questioned a lot about adoption…”
The teacher shoved the grade card aside and we sat and talked about my child and what is going on. At one point, the teacher showed me an assignment that my child wrote titled, “My Favorite Person”. She then read it to me.
Here is some of it:
“My favorite person is my parents. They protect me. They make sure I am safe on the streets. They watch me when I am playing outside. They are respectful of me. They have manners. They listen when I am talking to them. They forgive me when I say sorry to them. They don’t let me down. They adopted me. As you can see, I have a very good Mom and Dad.”
While the teacher was reading it, I started to cry. Soon after, she did, too. She said, “You’re doing a good job, Momma.” I cannot stress enough the importance of the timing of this. My child has been questioning a whole lot about our adoption history and I’ve had to answer some pretty tough questions. This parent-teacher conference was not just about reading, writing, and arithmetics. It was about life and I needed to read the words: They don’t let me down.
Some people have questioned why we chose to tell our children immediately about adoption. (Like as soon as they were adopted – age 20 months, 14 months, and 13 months). We knew they didn’t understand or comprehend it, but the word became a part of our language and adoption, a natural part of the make-up of our family. My husband and I have come to realize that if we hide or mislead our children about the smallest of details of their adoption stories, then we shouldn’t expect them to trust us with any of the details.
We know that if we chose to hold tightly their adoption stories, it would have been a mistake. Even with our openness, it is tough at times. There is nothing like watching your child grieve for a mother that one has never met, or felt. It is heartbreaking, deeply moving and can render one at a loss for words.
When your child spits venom at you that encompasses the full measure of grief, anger, and confusion, it does cause you to question whether you are good enough and if you have this whole adoptive parenting thing down. After reading my child’s letter, I know that while we are not perfect, we are good enough. Just good enough. That’s fine with me.
Surely, we will have tougher days ahead. Perfection was certainly not promised when we signed on the line for adoption. It is not guaranteed for any family, regardless of how children come. With adoption, though, I’m learning that we do have more to prove, we do have to be intentional about our efforts, and we must work hard at never letting our children down.
I’m also learning that while perfection is not a guarantee, love is.
That’s just fine with me.