Before I start, I must say a heartfelt thank you to all who welcomed me so warmly into the blogging world. I was incredibly moved by your comments and emails. This really is an extraordinary place filled with extraordinary people. I am overwhelmed and grateful.
When I was a child, my parents used to read me this book entitled The Chosen Baby. It was incredibly old-fashioned, which is ironic, since I think the version they read to me was updated in the 50’s to replace the original one from the 30’s. Still, it was outdated in the mid 1960’s, which is when it was first read to me, and seems impossibly so now.
It was a happy little tale about Mr. & Mrs. Brown, who lived so very happily, except that they had no babies of their own. So they adopted – a boy first, and then a few years later, a girl. The Browns loved these babies, and introduced them to their extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Mrs. Brown took care of the children (one assumes Mr. Brown was out earning a living) and everyone lived so very happily.
Okay, it sounds lame, I know. Even to me. Still, it was a very important book in my life, and I want to tell you why.
The Chosen Baby was only one of dozens of books in our bookcases at home. We had just about every kind of children’s book suitable for infants on up to the ‘chapter books’ I couldn’t wait to be allowed to read (I was an early reader, and my mother questioned whether Nancy Drew contained too ‘adult’ material for my tender age!). My mom was a teacher, and she would rather spend money on books than food any day.
Anyway, every night my brother or I chose a couple of books from the bookcase and Mom or Dad read to us (more often Mom – Dad liked to ‘rest his eyes’ while she was reading). The Chosen Baby got picked every so often, but so did Peter Rabbit and Thumbelina. No extra emphasis was ever placed on the message in that story. And that’s the important part.
As a child, I never felt that being adopted was weird or bad, or something to be ashamed about. To me, it just was. Like having brown hair and blue eyes. Or being part of a family where one parent was musically gifted and the other one couldn’t carry a tune to save his life. I don’t remember being told I was adopted, or that my brother was. It was always just known – no secrets, but no extra emphasis either. I tell my friends with adopted kids who ask what age their child should be when they tell them: if you have to sit them down and ‘break the news’ you’ve waited too long. It should just be part of your family story, like how your aunt was in labor for 3 days with your cousin, and Uncle Jack was born during a hurricane... or that you were adopted and so was your brother.
We all should be part of the family story that unfolds every day while you’re doing laundry, or playing cards, or driving to school, or reading a bedtime story.
This was a precious gift my parents gave me. Thanks, Mom and Dad.