The Secrets of 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 kids 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?”
“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.
“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.
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?”
“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?
———–Tags: adoptive families blog, adoptive parenting blog, awkward adoption moments, do you keep your adoption secret?, do your kids let others know they're adopted, don't ask don't tell about adoption, questions about adopted kids, questions about adoptive families, should adoption be secret?