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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Secrets of Adoption

shutterstock_101274232Does anyone know about your adoption?

For our family, adopting four older children from Russia meant children with accents appearing overnight.  First one boy, then his friend four years later, then two sisters after another year.  Kinda hard to cover-up.

As a very public family, most everyone knows our story.  Our kids generally resemble us in appearance, though not entirely in speech, so that’s where the questions arise.

Take, for instance, the Russian camp that they’re attending this week.  I don’t know of any other adopted keep_secretkids there.  Not that I am privy to everyone’s life story, of course.  However, we parents chat, and the conversation on my side of the fence is always unusual.

A young girl enthusiastically attaches herself to our girls, while my daughters studiously avoid her.  I’m embarrassed over their lack of social etiquette, and I decide to wade into the non-conversation myself.

“And what’s your name?”  I smile at her.

“Yael,” she offers.

“What a lovely name,” I compliment.  “And how old are you, Yael?”


Teengirls“Oh, the same age as Sashenka, here.  And this is her sister, Mashenka.”

“Maybe we’ll be put in the same group!” Yael suggests to Sashenka.

“Um-hmm…” Sashenka replies and I feel like kicking her.

I turn to the mother, and chat with her in Hebrew.  She says her Russian is better, and we switch to that.  She discerns that my Hebrew is better than my Russian and starts asking questions, most likely concerned that an imposter may be in their midst.

“Why do your children have Russian names?” she asks, picking up on the fact that I, unlike most of the storyother parents, am not straight off the boat from the Old Country.

“All four of my grandparents were from Russia,” I smile in rapid-fire Russian.

I’ve already discussed with the kids that this is their gig, it’s their life, it’s their business to tell or not to tell when they’re surrounded by peers.  We just watched a funny film the night before, “Mr. Troop Mom”, with George Lopez who had to be a stand-in “mom” at his daughter’s camp, and ends up doing everything wrong…. I tell them that they should be thankful that their parents are so cool, lol.

??????????????????????????I’m not sure if they’re buying that idea, or not.

They load the big bus and I kiss them all goodbye.  The boys are already surrounded by a group of friends, with outgoing Mr. Petya in the lead.  Some ask him if he’s a counselor, since he looks pretty mature.

I go toward our SUV to wave goodbye again and another mother approaches me.

“Your kids look so grown-up,” she starts in Russian.

“You’re right,” I laugh.

“Are they counselors?”

“No, no, we just want them to keep up their Russian, and the directors said it was fine for them to come.Group_Of_Friends_Huddled_Toget_Web

“How old are they?” she follows-up.

“The boys are 16, 16, and the girls are 15, and almost 13,” I reply, neglecting to mention that the boys will turn 17 in the fall.

“Oh, you have twins!” she assumes.

“Um, not really,” I hedge.

“But they’re both 16—how would they not be twins if they’re both 16?”

“Well, they weren’t born on the same day—they’re spaced apart,” I nod matter-of-factly, not wanting to lie and say that they’re nine months apart, when they’re really only two months apart.

In times past, when overly-snoopy waitresses or some other stranger asks, I simply confide, “It’s a medical miracle.”

And so, upon occasion, I cover for my kids.  All they want is a normal life.  Sometimes they decide to tell about their origins, and sometimes they don’t.

Do you keep adoption secrets?


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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Winnie says:

    I’ve become quieter about as my son has gotten older. The people that need to know, know and the ones that don’t I don’t offer up explanations. My older son has blabbed to several of his school friends but elementary aged kids only remembering 1/18th of what they are told so I doubt many make the connection. We have since had the discussion that it’s “Family Business” fine to talk about at home with family but outside of family I’ll tell who needs to know and adopted son can tell who he wants (frankly he has no memory and little curiosity about Ukraine currently). Of course we live in a small town and we showed up with a toddler out the blue – – most folks that know us already know. I don’t have the hurdles of accents, and same aged children to jump so I rarely get questioned.

    • avatar admin says:

      That sounds like par for the course, Winnie. As time passes, what’s the news anymore? Occasionally, we have to think about maybe a new doctor and no real medical history, etc., but as the years go by… and that feels good.

  2. avatar hoonew says:

    It’s a new school year, and I had to fill out school forms, and meet the teacher. The forms want his SSN, address, and birth place. So, I put the birthplace, but I think the SSN is none of their business (worried about ID theft, etc). I toy with the idea of telling his 2nd grade teacher about his roots- his first grade teacher knew, as he had a little trouble learning to read English (much better in Spanish, but that’s another story), so we mentioned when it seemed appropriate, that English wasn’t his first language. I’ll let the second grade teacher find out, if needed, but now his English literacy is as good as his Spanish, so it might not come up.

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s a smart approach, hoonew. Let them know when it’s needed. I would also bypass the Soc. Sec. #, unless they’re thinking of employing him, lol….

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