Most of what I know about the inner workings of my kids’ minds I’ve gleamed by being their chauffeur. It’s as if they forget I exist if I stay silent and keep driving. This is especially true if they have a friend in the car and they are both in the back seat. I’ve been known to take the very long way home when the conversation is particularly insightful.
A number of years ago I was in my taxi driver mode schlepping around two eight year olds in the back seat. One was my daughter (L), who is an adopted child in a family with both birth and adopted kids, and the other was her good friend (R), who is the biological child in a blended family. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, so I’m not sure exactly how they got to this discussion, but my ears quickly tuned in when I heard the following:
R: I remember being so surprised when I found out that all families didn’t have adopted kids and other kids. I wonder why they’d want it that way.
L: It’d be so boring if everybody in the family was the same and not mixed up like our families.
R: Yeah, it seems weird. I kind of feel sorry for them.
Ahh, nothing like the clear eyes of children to cut to the chase. Maybe it just the lot of moms to worry, but I certainly did my share when we chose to have both adopted and biological kids and to adopt transracially. Shortly after our adoption, an unnamed relative commented that our decision to adopt wasn’t fair to our adopted or biological children. Now, all these years and four kids later, I think maybe I over thought it all.
Kids pick up their cues from the adults in their lives. They also think that what they see is the norm, which is one of the many reasons why it is important to hang out with other families formed by adoption and other transracial families. I’m not dismissing the possible hardships some kids may feel in not looking like their parents or siblings, but I think this is often a bigger issue to the adults than to the child.
Several years later, I overheard my two daughters (C and L) talking. They were clearly joking around, but I wonder if there wasn’t a kernel of seriousness to their teasing.
C: Other families feel fake sometimes, don’t you think.
L: Yeah totally. Like they aren’t as real as our family.
C: Yep, too small, too much the same color, too much the same everything.
L: They’re probably all nice and polite too.
C: Probably freak out at the first fart joke.
L: Total wimps.
Are you parenting a blended family? What’s been your experience?
P.S. If you are parenting a blended family or thinking about it, check out the Creating a Family resources on Combining Children by Birth and Adoption, including several podcasts, a video, Top Ten Tips for Blending Kids by Birth and Adoption, and Suggested Books for Preparing a Child for the Adoption of a Sibling.
Image credit: achelms4